Reigning champions Wednesfield Aces made no mistake at home to early leaders Coventry in round three of the 2016 British Cycling Cycle Speedway Elite League Series, and with Ipswich winning away to Horspath, the title race has been thrown wide open.
The Aces of Wolverhampton, who suffered a disappointing defeat away at Ipswich in round two, put to bed any doubts over their capabilities with a convincing performance against their local rivals, Coventry.
Coventry arrived at Ashmore Park with confidence high after securing two early series wins at home to Ipswich and away to Poole. Round three provided their toughest task yet and it proved to be too difficult to over throw the 2015 champions on their home track.
Missing one of their star riders, South Australian champion, Bobby McMillan, Coventry were up against it from the off, with Ben Higham receiving a tapes exclusion for moving whilst under orders.
Things quickly got worse for Coventry as the Aces registered heat advantages in the early exchanges to pull away.
Coventry held their nerve midway through the first half though, with Polish teenage superstar Michal Sassek teaming up with Jake Read for an impressive 7-3 of their own and bringing the match back to just a point.
Coventry’s resolve was short lived though, as the Aces closed the first half with their own 7-3. After the break, they turned the screw on the visitors, who made mistakes, including a costly double exclusion in race 13, which saw the Aces return home a 7-0 and gave the visitors far too much to do for the remainder of the match.
It was an excellent performance from the home side with Team GB captain Paul Heard and Ben Mould the stand out riders for Wednesfield.
Coventry team manager Lee Marsh said: “That was a tough match and we knew coming to Wednesfield was going to be hard.
“There were moments of hope but their strength showed and the Wednesfield lads were the better team this afternoon.
“I thought Michal rode fantastically well once again and Andy (Angell) held his cool after an unfortunate exclusion to pick up three heat wins.”
In Oxfordshire, former champions Horspath Hammers took to the track against Ipswich Eagles with a strong team for their first fixture of the season, after their round one match-up with Poole was postponed.
They welcomed Polish residents, former world champion, Lukas Nowacki and reigning European Champion, Marcin Paradzinkski into their side.
Ipswich failed to make a good start in the first half of their matches against Coventry and Wednesfield, however a fine second half against the latter ensured the round two points stayed in Suffolk.
The Eagles rectified their tardiness this time and took control of the match in the first half. By the half time interval they sat on a healthy six-point cushion over their hosts. Not before Ipswich’s Charlie Rumbold managed to snap his machine in half whilst attempting a pass on the Hammers’ Lewis Osbourne.
The second half proved to have its controversial moments for both sides. Ipswich’s ability to pull away was hampered by some costly exclusions, allowing Horspath back into the match.
Going into the final heat, the scores were level at 93-93. Nowacki raced away up front, hotly pursued by Ipswich’s Australian star Cody Chadwick. The Eagles’ Ashley Hill kept Mark Carmichael at bay for a couple of laps, with the Welshman throwing all but the kitchen sink at the Suffolk rider.
On lap three, Horspath’s Carmichael attempted a late dive on Hill going into bend three and was judged to have crossed the inside line with both wheels in the process. He made the pass stick, but was disqualified from the race for making the move off the track, handing Ipswich a dramatic victory of 98-97.
In the match race trophy, Cody Chadwick took on the holder Lukas Nowacki from the inside grid and successfully won the trophy off the former champion to cap off an excellent afternoon for Ipswich.
Today’s results really open the league up. Ipswich are tied in first place with Coventry, whereas Wednesfield are just two points behind with one match in hand over the leaders. All teams have now lost on match, the 2016 series is sure to go down to the wire in October.
Round four of the Elite League takes place on Sunday 12 June, with Horspath hoping to bounce back away to Coventry, while Poole travel to Wednesfield, Wolverhampton.