SHEFFIELD star Simon Stead raced to victory on home soil in last Sunday’s Premier League Riders’ Championship at Owlerton. Stead got the better of Danny King (Newcastle), Ulrich Ostergaard (Peterborough) and Richard Lawson (Redcar) in the Final having qualified directly along with King. Stead said: “It’s been an amazing day. I’ve got lots of friends and sponsors here, not to mention my family and all the supporters of Sheffield speedway so this is for them. “I’m a little bit lost for words, it just means so much. Thanks to everyone for their support, especially the Sheffield fans for their backing all year.”
*OLIVER Greenwood was crowned British Under-19 Champion after going through the card with a 15-point maximum at Kent. The Rye House and Coventry Storm rider edged out Josh Bates by a single point with Jack Kingston in third place. Greenwood said: “You don’t win a British title every day and I’m very proud to have done it. It is the biggest meeting I have ridden in so far after missing the British Under-21 Final for the past two years. “It’s my final year at this level so it was great to go out with a win. I don’t usually analyse my heats but I saw who I had first time out and I knew it was going to be pretty crucial. “I was surprised with the gate I made off gate three. I think I was a bit lucky, but you need a bit of luck on your side if you’re going to win!”
*BRITISH Youth co-boss Neil Vatcher has reflected on another hugely successful season of progress for the nation’s youngsters. Tom Brennan won the inaugural British 150cc Championship at Peterborough, adding his name to a list of Youth champions which also includes Luke Harris (500cc), Lewis Whitmore (250cc) and Kyle Bickley (125cc), and Vatcher says he and colleague Phil Morris have seen improvement at all levels during 2014. Vatcher said: “We are delighted with the progress that has happened this year, and with the Fast Track system in place in the Elite League this for sure has enhanced the careers of many young British riders. “For the first time in many years we had a really good World Team Cup campaign at Under-21 level, only missing out on the World Final by three points – a massive improvement on previous years. “The whole British Youth Championship, which is for riders under the age of 16, again has been a great success and at this level the standard goes up every year. 2014 was no different, which of course is great news for the future success of British Speedway.”
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BELLE VUE finished the season with a 48-42 win over King’s Lynn followed by a 40-53 defeat in Monday’s double header at Kirkmanshulme Lane, leaving the Aces eighth in the Elite League table. Skipper Scott Nicholls said: “It’s not been the successful season we had anticipated back in March and naturally we're very disappointed about that. “Sitting near the bottom of the table for as long as we have isn't a pleasant place to be; it's not where we wanted to finish our year but there's nothing we can do or say to change anything now; our season is over.”
COVENTRY promoter Mick Horton says his side will be ready to face Swindon in the play-offs next week, having elected to take the home leg first by virtue of finishing above the Robins in the league table. Horton said: “We’ve chosen to go first at home as we want to get points on the board first and foremost if we can. “I think it will be a close encounter over the two legs but we want to get an advantage at home, and if we can go to Swindon with that then anything is possible there.”
EASTBOURNE promoter Mike Bellerby has thanked all concerned with the club with their future for 2015 uncertain, after the Eagles finished outside the play-offs despite not suffering a home defeat. Bellerby said: “We have a wonderful band of people at Arlington who contribute and do so much to put on racing. Much of what they do is unseen but I can assure you that it is invaluable. We thank everyone for what they have done this past year. “The riders have done their very best and we thank them for their contributions. We are fortunate here at Eastbourne that our fans are loyal and supportive and we thank them for that.”
KING’S LYNN boss Rob Lyon knows he must re-focus his riders after they just missed out on top place in the Elite League table, and now face Poole in the play-off semi-finals. Lyon said: “I had a feeling that Matt (Ford, Poole promoter) would pick us. I am pleased we have the first leg at home. The boys are a bit down at the moment but we will pick them up and get ready for the playoffs.”
LAKESIDE completed their Elite League season with a 35-59 defeat at King’s Lynn last Tuesday. Guest Stuart Robson, replacing the injured Lewis Bridger, top-scored for the Hammers with ten points as they finished sixth in the table.
LEICESTER rounded off their debut Elite League season in ninth place with a home defeat to Poole last Wednesday, with the match going away from the Lions in the closing stages. Manager Norrie Allan said: “It was a close-run match until the final two races when they scored nine points to our three. The lead changed hands five times in the first ten races, that's how close it was.”
POOLE promoter Matt Ford admits his choice of second-placed King’s Lynn in the play-off semi-finals was not a straightforward one after the Pirates topped the table on points difference. Ford said: “It was a difficult choice to make but having weighed everything up we felt that we might just have a better chance against King's Lynn than Coventry, despite us having won at Coventry last Monday. “I felt that maybe we were a bit fortunate in that they lost Kyle Howarth so early in that meeting and we took the advantage from that. Overall I think that our lads are marginally more suited to King's Lynn but in choosing them in no way are we saying the task is going to be easy.”
SWINDON boss Alun Rossiter is confident his side can come out on top as they prepare to face Coventry in the Elite League play-off semi-finals. Rossiter said: “I’m not really surprised to be honest, I half expected us to end up with Coventry. It was never in our hands, who we were going to face, so we’ve just got to beat what’s put in front of us. “We are riding well and feel confident at the moment, so we definitely believe we can come out on top over the two legs.”
WOLVERHAMPTON wrap up their Elite League campaign with a trip to Coventry on Friday, but the club still have one big date to come at Monmore Green. The hugely popular Banks’s Olympique, run on the handicap format, will be their final meeting of the season on Tuesday October 14. PREMIER LEAGUE LATEST…
BERWICK boss John Anderson accepts double defeat to Edinburgh last weekend makes the task of finishing top of their play-off group a tough one – and one which relies on results elsewhere going in their favour. Anderson said: “We have to make the best of our visit to Workington and their visit here, and hope the Comets can buck the form guide and hammer a couple of tight wins past the Monarchs, but it's a steep hill to climb now. We have to cure the inconsistency that plagues us at the moment."
EDINBURGH enjoyed a successful opening to their play-off campaign with back-to-back wins over Berwick – coming from ten points down to snatch a 48-45 victory at Shielfield Park, with skipper Derek Sneddon returning from missing the home match due to illness by scoring double figures. Sneddon said: “I knew the team needed me so I did what I had to do. It was a great night for the team.”
GLASGOW boss Stewart Dickson says the 2014 campaign ranks as an improvement on last year as the Tigers prepare for the second leg of their KO Cup tie with Newcastle. Dickson told Speedway Star: “Just because I said it was better than last year doesn’t make it great, because last year was terrible. But I think we’ve had four home defeats this year and we’ve taken some big scalps along the way. I certainly think we’ve been a bit more competitive, certainly than we were last year, but we’re so inconsistent. We don’t know what we’re going to get.”
IPSWICH star Morten Risager is targeting success at Foxhall to get the Witches through their play-off group where they face Somerset and Scunthorpe. Risager told Speedway Star: “The key will be to gain big home wins and ensure we pick up six points from our two home group meetings. And this will apply to the Final if we can hopefully get that far, and also in the Final of the Knockout Cup. Scoring well at home is going to be so important.”
NEWCASTLE manager George English is optimistic the Diamonds can defend their 16-point first leg lead when they head to Glasgow on Sunday for the second leg of their KO Cup quarter-final. English said: “We’ve given ourselves a good, fighting chance of reaching the semis. I’d have preferred a few more than 16 to be honest, but when we were 20-16 down I’d have gladly taken a 53-37 win if offered it at that stage.”
PETERBOROUGH boss Carl Johnson says he has no complaints over the club’s narrow failure to reach the Premier League play-offs – although they still have the League Cup Final against Edinburgh to go for. Johnson said: “We have failed to pick up the results we wanted. We dropped too many points at home and our away form of late has been nowhere near the level we expect. But I can’t think of too many other clubs who have had the amount of bad luck we have with injuries.”
PLYMOUTH are aiming to put on a show for their supporters when they face Ipswich in the KO Cup semi-finals on Friday – trailing the Witches by 40 points from the first leg. Devils boss Lee Trigger said: “We know it will be a hard task against Ipswich. But we will be going for every point and put in a good home performance for our supporters. Ipswich will come down here thinking the tie has already been won, but we have to take each race as it comes and get as many points as we can.”
REDCAR’S Jan Graversen held off team-mate Aaron Summers to win the Teesside Silver Helmet in the club’s season finale last Thursday, with Newcastle’s Ludvig Lindgren in third place.
RYE HOUSE complete their 2014 season at Hoddesdon with the staging of the National League Riders’ Championship on Sunday. The meeting, sponsored by Paradise Wildlife Park, often throws up drama, and the line-up includes club asset Ben Morley and current Rockets reserve Oliver Greenwood, who recently won the British Under-19 title.
SCUNTHORPE open their play-off campaign with a trip to Ipswich on Thursday before entertaining Somerset the following evening in a repeat of the 2012 Final. Promoter Rob Godfrey said: “This is what the whole season has been building up to. The points are reset to zero; we have to score more points in our four play-off meetings than Ipswich and Somerset. It’s as simple as that. “We built a team we believed would get stronger as the season went along. We showed our best spell of the season directly before the play-offs, and it’s now up to us to continue that in these matches.”
SHEFFIELD will be without PLRC winner Simon Stead for their final match of the season against Edinburgh on Thursday as he suffered a shoulder injury in his after-race clash with Josh Grajczonek last weekend. Co-promoter Damien Bates said: “As a club we are extremely proud of Simon winning the PLRC, and we are just delighted for him. He has been absolutely fantastic for Sheffield this year, and the success is thoroughly deserved. “He picked up a shoulder injury during his accidental clash with Josh Grajczonek, and we wish both of them well as it was a shame to see both injured after what was a purely accidental incident.”
SOMERSET step up their defence of the Premier League title when they face the first of their play-off matches at Scunthorpe on Friday, with Ipswich also in their group. Promoter Debbie Hancock said: “All six teams are in the play-offs for a reason in that they are the best six sides in the league, and if you want to win Championships then you have to beat teams like that, to borrow a sporting cliché, there are no easy matches when you get to this stage of the Championship. “At the start of the year I set reaching the play-offs as our target for the season, but now having got here the riders are determined to make it through to the Final and retain the title we won last season.”
WORKINGTON go into their tough first round of play-off matches against the table topping Edinburgh Monarchs this weekend with injury problems once again following the loss of their number one Josh Grajczonek with a broken left collarbone at last Sunday’s PLRC in Sheffield. Comets team manager Tony Jackson said: “It really is becoming a year to forget with injuries once again for us; however this is probably the first time I can recall us losing a rider after a race. “Josh was understandably not very happy about the hard move Simon Stead made on him on the opening lap of their heat and while he was making his feelings known after the race they were so busy talking to each other they weren’t watching where they were going. Unfortunately this led to Josh’s footrest getting caught in Simon’s wheel and down they both came; where despite hitting the track at low speed Josh broke his collarbone as he landed. “We now need guests to cover for Josh while we are also still sweating on the fitness of Kyle Howarth, who crashed heavily when riding for Coventry last week, so all in all not what we wanted going into the play-offs!” FIXTURE PICTURE…
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 23: NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAY-OFF S/F 1st leg: Cradley v Mildenhall 7.30THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 25: ELITE LEAGUE RIDERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP: King’s Lynn 7.30 PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS: Ipswich v Scunthorpe 7.30 PREMIER LEAGUE: Sheffield v Edinburgh 7.30FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 26: ELITE LEAGUE: Coventry v Wolverhampton 7pm PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS: Edinburgh v Workington 7.30, Scunthorpe v Somerset 7.30 PREMIER LEAGUE KO CUP S/F 2nd leg: Plymouth v Ipswich 7.15 NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP S/F 2nd leg: Coventry v Cradley (follows EL fixture)SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 27: PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS: Workington v Edinburgh 7pm NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP S/F 2nd leg: Stoke v King’s Lynn 7pmSUNDAY SEPTEMBER 28: NATIONAL RIDERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP: Rye House 2pm PREMIER LEAGUE KO CUP Q/F 2nd leg: Glasgow v Newcastle 5pmMONDAY SEPTEMBER 29: ELITE LEAGUE PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL 1st leg: Coventry v Swindon 7.30, King’s Lynn v Poole 7.30WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 1: PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS: Somerset v Scunthorpe 7.30THURSDAY OCTOBER 2: PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS: Ipswich v Somerset 7.30FRIDAY OCTOBER 3: PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS: Scunthorpe v Ipswich 7.30 NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAY-OFF S/F 2nd leg: Coventry v Kent 7.30SATURDAY OCTOBER 4: NATIONAL LEAGUE: Devon v King’s Lynn 7.15 RUSTY HARRISON TESTIMONIAL: Workington 7pmSUNDAY OCTOBER 5: LEAGUE CUP FINAL 1st leg: Peterborough v Edinburgh 2pm NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAY-OFF S/F 2nd leg: Mildenhall v Cradley 3.30 NATIONAL LEAGUE: Buxton v Scunthorpe 3pmMONDAY OCTOBER 6: ELITE LEAGUE PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL 2nd leg: Poole v King’s Lynn 7.30, Swindon v Coventry 7.30