The 2018 British Cycling Cycle Speedway Supertrax Battle of Britain series got off to an exciting start on Sunday, with defending champions the South East and East getting off the mark with a win.
The 2017 elite men's champions eased out to an early 14 point lead midway through the first half, after the Midlands experienced a disastrous run of results - picking up three disqualifications in three races. Despite a late resurgence from the Midlands side, the South East and East were able to keep the visitors at arm's length, securing victory by 102-91 points against last year's runner-up.
The elite junior class fixture went down to the wire, but with the same result. The South East and East took command of the match through strong performances by Lewis Brinkoff, Pierce Bacon and Harrison Bacon - eventually sealing a slender five point victory by 99-94 points against last year's elite junior champions.
The second fixture of the weekend saw the North and Scotland secure two excellent victories at Harbourside Park, Poole against the South West and Wales team. Hampered by a number of absentees, including the late withdrawal of Dean Hook through injury, it went from bad to worse for the home side with top rider Maciej Ganczarek coming off at speed and playing no further part in the meeting. The North and Scotland took an early lead and survived a South West and Wales comeback to secure a 93-103 win and make a perfect start to the series.
Once again the elite junior racing was closely contested, with some elbow-to-elbow racing keeping the Poole crowd entertained throughout. An exclusion for Sean Bennett, the South West and Wales captain, proved critical - with the talented junior squad of the North and Scotland riding a mature penultimate race and securing the victory away from home.
So the 2018 Battle of Britain series is off with a bang and last year's champions the South East and East will be satisfied after making the perfect start in their bid for a second series title. However, with riders representing various regions still to return throughout the series, there is a lot of close competition and dramatic racing to be had over the coming rounds.