Brit stars in Pairs win
Nathan Kay scored an unbeaten 17 as Leeds won the Club Pairs Championship for a second time, ten years after his starring role in the Jaguars maiden win. The England star partnered Anthony Rose to victory in SL14, and while Rose’s career has been on a downward spiral since—the now 34 year old currently without a club—Kay’s has gone on from strength to strength. A £700,000 transfer to Willenhall didn’t quite go to plan, for the Wolves at least, but still Kay reached two of his seven GP series while at the club, he rejoined the Jags last year for a figure close to £1/2million, his return a big reason why they were promoted back to the top flight as champions, while Kay himself finished as the top averaged rider in the country and in the top six of the World Championship. And now he’s won the Pairs alongside Kim Cedegren (10), the duo’s four 5-1’s taking them to victory in this weeks final by a six point margin over Stowmarket’s Grzegorz Kowalczyk (14) and Charles Knapper (7), the Witches the only side of Leeds’s opponents this week not to concede a heat advantage to them, even so Kay raced to one of his five victories when they opposed each other in heat six. Holders Peter Carl (9) and Matteo De Feudis (7) were one of the four duo’s to concede maximum points to the eventual winners, the Dudley partnership’s defeat in heat 20 ending their hopes of a podium finish. Third spot on the night in the end went the way of Willenhall’s Aaron Macaulay (14) and Ronnell Hawtin (6), their hopes of success curtailed with an exclusion for Macaulay when up against Leeds in heat ten.
The Pairs wins was just part of a successful week for Leeds, the period beginning with a 41-48 league win at Eastbourne and ending with a 24 point success against Brickhill, the latter recorded without Ekrem Muslic in the team. His absence from the win means the £25,000 pre-season signing will keep his 4.00 GSA for the next six weeks—he’s actually averaging 9.33—and it also allowed a seasonal debut for Daniel Lake, the 18 year old impressing with two wins in a score of paid nine at reserve. Earlier Muslic had scored 12+1 from the same position as Leeds earned only their fourth league win at Wilimington Gardens in their 33 meetings there, it was also their biggest. Having started the week level on points with Wimbledon and Brickhill at the top of the standings, the Jags end it two points clear, both their rivals losing ground with defeats against Cradley Heath. Brickhill’s came on home shale, with the Cobras 41-49 winners at Paxton Road, the victory their fourth in the league at the venue in six and was returned due to their greater firepower. Ten of the 15 heat wins went the way of the visitors, the top two of Matthew McGowan (14+1) and Gavin Moss (12) picking up seven of them, although it was Kieron Langmead’s first of the night in heat 14 which confirmed the league points would be going the Cobra’s way. Elsewhere there were second home defeats of the season for both Dudley and Stowmarket, the latter going down 44-46 to Willenhall after they conceded a last heat 5-1 to Aaron Macaulay (13) and Ronnell Hawtin (11+1) in a meeting they had led in for the previous ten races, the Heathens meanwhile trailed for the entirety of their clash with Huntingdon, the Hunters clinching the points in an eventual 41-49 victory as early as heat 13, that despite the hosts picking up the majority of heat wins!
Cradley Heath’s Matthew McGowan (13) and Ronnell Hawtin (13) of Willenhall led the charge of last years home nation GP contingent into this years British Final, the current world numbers 12 and five winning their respective semi finals at Beverley and Kelso. Fellow SL23 GP riders Nathan Kay, Aaron Macaulay and Charles Knapper also made it safely through to next months Huntingdon final.
Exeter picked up their first away win since their return to the second tier, the newly promoted Vipers adding to the woes of bottom side Earley with a 41-49 victory at The Cemetery. The Vipers book-ended the meeting they led in from start to finish with 5-1’s, Istvan Hanak (9+1) winning the opener, the unbeaten Marcus Linder (14+1) the decider. The Gravediggers poor start to the season means promoter David Grainger has plenty of room for manoeuvre in the transfer market, which has now reopened, his current top seven almost ten points adrift of the 47 point team limit. Of the second tier clubs only leaders Gorleston have exceeded the 47 point mark, the Ghosts suffered their first defeat of SL24 this week, they going down by two at Linlithgow. Elsewhere Telford won on the road for the first time since their drop from the top flight, the Thunder picking up 5-1’s in heats 13 and 14 on their way to a 41-49 win at Beverley, while a Bartosz Gorczyca (14+1) maximum helped Cork beat bottom side Claygate 44-46 on the road in division three.