I had been eagerly awaiting this day for a long, long time. The first meeting of the season brings a fresh team along with fresh hopes. One of the pleasant aspects of this fresh team is the familiarity… Danny King, Ben Barker, Josh Auty, Nico Covatti and Martin Smolinski all being retained from last season with just Chris Harris and Jason Doyle as new guys. The only thing I wasn’t looking forward to was… you’ve guessed it… the weather! The press and practice session last week in bitter cold conditions was a stark reminder that March is on the back end of winter and invariably hangs onto cold wintry conditions. As I entered the stadium the temperature was a bone-numbing 3 degrees centigrade with a sharp wind ensuring that the cold would permeate my many layers of clothing and render my thermals useless! But… 7.30 arrived and the roar of the engines and the intoxicated smell of speedway fuel soon lifted my spirits, the 2013 season was soon to commence. On with the meeting… Belle Vue were operating rider replacement for Matej Zagar. Brummies won the toss and elected to go off gates 1 and 3 for heat 1.
Heat 1. Ales Dryml taking the first r/r for Zagar. The Brummies didn’t make the best of gates; Ales Dryml led from the tapes, followed by, Josh Auty, Kevin Wolbert and Chris Harris. Chris rapidly moved up the placings by passing Wolbert out of the first bend of lap 1, Wolbert kept the pressure on Chris and momentarily took the position back, but some gutsy riding from Chris saw him reclaim the 3rd place and then pass Josh into 2nd place. Wolbert kept up the pressure and eventually relegated Josh into last place. While the action was happening in the minor places Ales Dryml confidently led the race from start to finish.
Dryml, Harris, Wolbert, Auty
Heat 2. Once again the Aces were sharper away from the tapes as Ales Dryml led out of the first bend followed by his teammate Kauko Nieminen, with Martin Smolinski and Nico Covatti in 3rd and 4th place. Smolinski edged past Nieminen out of bend 3 of the first lap and Covatti did likewise just one lap later on the same bend. Once again Dryml in total control of the race to take his second win.
Dryml, Smolinski, Covatti, Nieminen
Result 3-3 (5-7)
Heat 3. Into bend 1, Ben Barker, Magnus Zetterstrom, Danny King, Craig Cook. Danny moved past Zetterstrom out of bend 2 on lap 1 but Zetterstrom reclaimed the position as they exited bend 3 of the same lap. Danny pushed hard for the next couple of laps but couldn’t better his position. On the final lap Zetterstrom took up the challenge on Ben Barker but to no avail and Ben won the race.
Barker, Zetterstrom, King, Cook
Result 4-2 (9-9)
Heat 4. Covatti reared up as they left the tapes entering the first bend in 3rd place behind Jason Doyle and Kauko Nieminen with Artur Mroczka in last place. Nieminen edged past Doyle on bend 3 lap 2 but one bend later Doyle reclaimed the 1st place and then managed to hold the position to the end of the race.
Doyle, Nieminen, Covatti, Mroczka
Result 4-2 (13-11)
Heat 5. R/R Craig Cook. Craig Cook gated like a rocket, followed by Danny King, Ben Barker and Kevin Wolbert. And that’s exactly how they finished. No position contested by any rider and well strung out by the end of the race; with Cook have a quite sizeable lead over the other riders.
Cook, King, Barker, Wolbert
Result 3-3 (16-14)
Heat 6. Ales Dryml was once again the sharpest gater and led into bend 1 followed by the Brummie pairing of Chris Harris and Josh Auty with Artur Mroczka at the back. Chris Harris pushed hard behind Dryml and completed the pass on the home straight at the end of lap 1. This is the point in the evening where the cold got the better of my concentration levels and I didn’t notice where Mroczka had snuck past Auty, but at this point it wasn’t too important as Josh took back 3rd place on the back straight of lap 3.
Harris, Dryml, Auty, Mroczka
Result 4-2 (20-16)
Heat 7. Zetterstrom followed by Jason, Doyle, followed by Craig Cook, followed by Martin Smolinski into the first bend. Cook roared from 3rd to 1st place down the back straight on lap 1. Martin Smolinski fell on the 3rd bend of lap 1; he quickly re-mounted but never got back into race contention and remained in last place. Jason Doyle had no answer to the fast flying Aces and had to settle for 3rd place. The first 5-1 of the night, regretfully not for the Brummies, and our slender lead gone! cryer1
Cook, Zetterstrom, Doyle, Smolinski
Result 1-5 (21-21)
Heat 8. The Aces yet again giving a master class in gating as Kevin Wolbert followed by Kauko Nieminen led into the first bend with Josh Auty and Nico Covatti trailing in their wake! Things went from bad to even worse as on bend 3 of lap 3 Nico tangled with Josh bringing them both down. The race was stopped and as nearly 3 had been completed the race wasn’t re-run, with Nico being excluded as the cause of the stoppage, Josh was awarded 3rd place. But… for the second race in a row the Brummies were on the wrong end of a 5-1! saddi1234
Wolbert, Nieminen, Auty, (Covatti excluded)
Result 1-5 (22-26)
Heat 9. Exiting bend 1 of lap 1 Artur Mroczka has the lead over Ben Barker, Danny King in 3rd and Ales Dryml in 4th. Ben swoops around the outside and passes Mroczka on the back straight just a few wheel turns later. The race positions remain unchanged until the 2nd bend of lap 2 where Mroczka slows down and retires from the race with engine problems, promoting Dryml into 3rd place. The result? At last, a 5-1 to the Brummies! brumscarf brumscarf
Barker, King, Dryml, (Mroczka e/f)
Result 5-1 (27-27)
Heat 10. The Aces once again reign supreme from the gate as Craig Cook and Magnus Zetterstrom storm into the lead, Chris Harris in 3rd and Josh Auty in 4th. Chris kept up the pressure behind Zetterstrom but couldn’t find a way past; meanwhile Josh was well off the pace at the back. Advantage back to the Aces with their 3rd 5-1 of the night and once again take the lead. saddi1234
Cook, Zetterstrom, Harris, Auty
Result 1-5 (28-32)
Heat 11. Kauko Nieminen R/R for Zagar. The Brummies duo make a superb gate with Jason Doyle and Martin Smolinski hitting the front into the 1st bend, but Kauko Nieminen swoops around the outside of bend 1 & 2 passing both Doyle and Smolinski like they are standing still! Smolinski takes to the front 1 lap later, and just as it looks like a certain 4-2 is on the cards Jason locks up on bend 3 of lap 3 and falls off while in 3rd place. The race is stopped, Race awarded with Wolbert promoted into 3rd place due to Jason being excluded as the cause of the stop Nieminen, Wolbert Doylll excluded)
Result 33 (31-35)
Heat 12. Ales Dryml again making a superb gate to lead into the 1st bend, Danny King 2nd, Nico Covatti in 3rd and Magnus Zetterstrom 4th. Nico passes Zetterstrom on the back straight. Zetterstrom chases hard, Nico exits bend 4 of lap 1 really wide in an attempt to hold Zetterstrom from passing, this resulted in Nico colliding into the fence on the home straight with bike parts flying in the air as he falls off. The race is stopped and amazingly Nico immediately jumps to his feet looking none the worse for this alarming fall. Race to be re-run with the exclusion of Nico Covatti.
Re-run. From the tapes, Danny King, Magnus Zetterstrom, Ales Dryml. The four laps are completed with no change of order and by the last lap a very well spaced out field. Points shared and Belle Vue continue to hold a 4 point lead.
King, Zetterstrom, Dryml (Covatti fell, excluded)
Result 3-3 (34-38)
Heat 13. Kevin Wolbert R/R for Zagar. Into the first bend Chris Harris leads, Kevin Wolbert 2nd, Jason Doyle 3rd and Artur Mroczka in last place. Jason gets some grip and storms around the outside of Wolbert and Harris to take the lead, and all importantly a 5-1 position for the Brummies! Jason & Chris team ride for a while and trade place with each other with Chris the eventual 1st place rider, with the Belle Vue pair out of contention. The match once again level.
Harris, Doyle, Wolbert, Mroczka brumscarf brumscarf
Result 5-1 (39-39)
Heat 14. Craig Cook anticipated the tapes a little too well… race stopped all four back.
Re-start At last a Brummie makes the gate… Martin is flying! Martin Smolinski and Ben Barker in 1st and 2nd into the first bend, followed by Craig Cook and Kauko Nieminen. Cook, who has been riding exceptionally well all evening, splits the Brummie pair as he rides past Ben on the back straight. With no further changes in positions this is also the result as the Brummies edge back into a 2-point lead with just 1 race to go.
Smolinski, Cook, Barker, Nieminen,
Result 4-2 (43-41)
Heat 15. Nominated riders: Chris Harris, Danny King, Artur Mroczka, Magnus Zetterstrom Brummies off gates 1 & 3
Positions into first bend… Chris Harris, Artur Mroczka, Magnus Zetterstrom, Danny King. Mroczka and Zetterstrom trade places out of bend 2 and on bend 3 of lap 1 Danny King also passes Mroczka. This final heat turns into a somewhat processional race with a well spaced out field and the Brummies take a 4-2 to final clinch the win by 4 points.
Harris, Zetterstrom, King, Mroczka
Result 4-2 (47-43)
Meeting summary I really thought we were going to loose this match! Belle Vue outgated us all night. The bizarre thing is… the inclusion of Mroczka in the nominated race? He had not scored a single point from his four scheduled rides, so why use him over Cook, Dryml or Nieminen? I know it was just a challenge match but why did Belle Vue throw away the potential to win the match by appearing to ‘throw in the towel’ and not contest the last race… most strange! Oh well, it was much needed track time for the whole team, and I’m sure they have all highlighted where the can make improvements in time for a ‘proper’ match against Coventry next Wednesday. On a personal note I was quite proud of the teams’ efforts in the match, only Josh and Nico had low scores, and it wasn’t due to not trying, in Nico’s case I think he was trying too hard! Martin Smolinski deservedly named as ‘man of the match’.
I hope that proper spring temperatures aren’t too far away, I don’t want to contemplate too many more meetings as cold as this one! I trust that I haven’t made too many errors in this report, but at one point I was so cold I think my brain cell was frozen. On top of which I’ve also discovered it’s nigh on impossible to handle a pen, notepad, programme and torch with numb fingers while wearing two pairs of gloves!