Eastbourne Eagles 49, King’s Lynn Stars 40
Elite Speedway League
Match report by Kevin Ling
Eastbourne ‘Lifestyle’ Eagles bounced back to their more usual home supremacy with a decisive 49-40 victory over current runaway Elite League leaders, the King’s Lynn Stars at Arlington stadium on Saturday night.
Following the draw against South Coast rivals, the Poole Pirates at the venue just five nights earlier, there remained some concerns that the powerhouse Norfolk outfit would prove just too tough a nut to crack. It was to prove a total contrast however and with the majority of the Eagles number stepping back up to the plate, as the match unfolded it appeared ever more likely that the hosts could and would become the second team within the space of three days – Swindon achieving the feat on the previous Thursday – to dispatch the Stars back to Saddlebow Road with no reward to show for their efforts.
Bjarne Pedersen was back to something like his Arlington best while skipper Cameron Woodward never stopped battling, his last gasp second place to deny Lewis Kerr arguably seizing the three league points for the Sussex side.
As for the visitors, opening pair Niels-Kristian Iversen and Niklas Porsing both fought hard but falls for each undoubtedly inhibited their scoring, reserve Kerr gave a fine account of himself but heat leaders Rory Schlein and Kenneth Bjerre’s return fell below that which might have been envisaged by the King’s Lynn management and the undeniably talented Robert Lambert’s potential really only demonstrated itself in winning his final ride.
The tapes rose for heat one and as the Stars duo hit the front, it appeared from the off that they might be heading for yet another travelling victory. Porsing lifted heading down the back straight however, allowing both Pedersen and Timo Lahti a route through. Iversen continued to record an untroubled win but the points remained shared.
That was to set the pattern for the next few races, the first four resulting in 3-3’s, the conclusion of heat four revealing a 12-points apiece scoreline.
The second race witnessed a win for Kerr but Adam Ellis, guesting in place of Eagles free scoring Lewis Blackbird who was ruled out at the eleventh hour having sustained a cut eye, remained close at hand.
Mikkel Michelsen contained the combined threat of Schlein and Bjerre in the third and then Woodward exerted sustained pressure on Porsing in heat four though to no avail, Ellis following in third place to keep the scores deadlocked.
The teams were finally separated as Eagles secured a 4-2 in the fifth thanks to another industrious effort from Woodward. This one saw Iversen suffer a third lap fall, but hopes that Joonas Kylmakorpi, holding third place over Bjerre at the time would sweep through for the 5-1 proved unfounded as the Dane quickly found his way past the Finn, who’s unchallenged point would remain his only input of the night in what was to prove a most disappointing display.
Eastbourne were handed maximum points in the next however, Lambert and Kerr being disqualified in separate incidents, thus resulting in an awarded 5-0 for Danny Halsey and Lahti, a result that undoubtedly derailed the Stars ambition.
Firstly Lambert suffered a first bend fall, immediately ruling him out but Kerr looked set to take the win in the rerun. Unfortunately for him thought, a loss of control on the third lap saw a hoarding on the fourth bend dislodged leaving referee Dave Robinson little option but to ignite the red stop lights, the result being awarded with the Stars rider duly excluded.
The Eagles now led 25-16 but the visitors hit back as Porsing posted a fine win over Woodward in heat eight, Schlein remaining untroubled in third place ahead of Kylmakorpi.
The hosts countered in the ninth, Ellis denying Kerr for first place, Halsey getting the better of Stars own guest Marc Owen to secure a 4-2 of their own to return the difference to 9-points, 31-22.
Pedersen romped to his second win in race ten, Schlein and Bjerre again following for a share of the spoils but King’s Lynn would snip 2-points from the home advantage in the next as Iversen headed home Michelsen, Lambert doing likewise against the totally out of sorts Kylmakorpi for his first point of proceedings.
The tit for tat game continued, Lahti seeing off Kerr in heat twelve while Ellis took third, Porsing having suffered a second bend fall to again hamper the King’s Lynn chances of taking something from the night.
Iversen blazed to a third win three races out but Pedersen and Michelsen blocked the minor places ahead of Bjerre to protect the Eagles 9-point lead, one that now stood at 43-34.
The win was effectively now in the bag, but whether it would be a two or three pointer was still up for discussion and King’s Lynn still looked likely to snatch back a point for themselves as Lambert led all the way in the penultimate race, Kerr riding shotgun ahead of Woodward for what seemed set to be maximum points. The final bend saw the Eagles Captain mount his challenge, riding around Kerr on the run in to claim the verdict by half a bike length, the home lead now being reduced to 7-points, 45-38 with just one race left on the card.
The final outcome still remained poised, but it was Pedersen who led in the last looking to wrap things up neatly for the Eagles; however a bizarre twist was set to unfold as Iversen appeared to unseat his team mate Schlein between the third and fourth turn.
Many expected the Dane to be disqualified for being the cause, but as referee Robinson correctly pointed out, the relevant rule states that unfair riding only seems to relate to an opponent. As Schlein was Iversen’s team mate, by the letter of the law, it was he who was the subject of what appeared an unwarranted disqualification.
In either case, the matter was settled and Pedersen duly secured the win from Iversen in the restart, Woodward following on for third place and the 4-2 that would see them run out 49-40 victors.
Eagles: Bjarne Pedersen 13(5), Cameron Woodward 10(5), Mikkel Michelsen 7+1(4), Adam Ellis (Guest for Lewis Blackbird) 7+1(5), Danny Halsey 5+1(3), Timo Lahti 6+2(4), Joonas Kylmakorpi 1(4). – 49
Stars: Niels-Kristian Iversen 11(5), Lewis Kerr 8(5), Rory Schlein 7(5), Niklas Porsing 6(4), Kenneth Bjerre 4+2(4), Robert Lambert 4(4), Marc Owen (Guest for Lewis Rose) 0(3). - 40