Timo Lahti proved to be the out and out star of an emotional night at the Arlington raceway on Saturday evening.
Proceedings began with a perfectly observed minutes silence followed by rapturous applause around the stadium in honour of the memory of English speedway great Lee Richardson.
He was a young man who represented both the Eagles and the Robins during a magnificent career but who so sadly lost his life in a track crash in Poland the previous weekend. As has been witnessed on a number of occasions at Arlington in 2012, it was the Eagles who were tardier than their visitors out of the starting blocks.
Swindon began with a 4-2 to kick proceedings off, that result being muted from a 5-1 in the latter stages as Eastbourne guest Scott Nicholls overcame Simon Stead in the latter part of the race.
A brace of shared heats followed but the home side exerted control as Lahti joined with Lewis Bridger for maximum points ahead of Troy Batchelor in the fourth.
The 5-1 which was swiftly followed by another as Simon Gustafsson and Cameron Woodward outgunned Hans Andersen in heat five handing the Sussex side a lead (18-12) that they were never destined to lose.
The Robins remained in the mix however, due largely to the efforts of reserve Peter Kildemand, unbeaten in each of his first three outings, along with those of Jason Doyle and Andersen in particular.
Back to back 4-2’s in heats seven and eight pulled them to within two-points (22-20) of their hosts at that stage. This margin remained in place at the conclusion of heat 11 (34-32) as a further 4-2 to the visitors countered a similar strike by the Eagles in the ninth to ensure a nail biting final few races.
It was at that point that Lahti made his impact on proceedings with some truly electric starting.
The Finn took control of heat 12, sharing a 4-2 with Gustafsson ahead of Nick Morris to extend the home lead to four-points, 38-34.
And then, following a shared 13th race as Nicholls outpaced both Andersen and Batchelor, Lahti returned not only to win the match in the penultimate race but also safeguarded all three Elite League points thanks to a similar result in the last.
Eagles Team Manager Trevor Geer was delighted at the result and the Eagles performance in what he stressed were difficult circumstances for all.
“We expected the toughest of meetings against Swindon, a team who have already won away this season, and that is exactly what we got
“With a reserve like Peter Kildemand going so well in the early stages, winning his first three races we could easily have been up against it.
“But we had our own star reserve in the guise of Timo Lahti who romped home in his final three rides to win us the meeting.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with him and the rest of the lads right now”
Mads Kornliussen of King’s Lynn will guest for Eagles at No.1 as they go to Belle Vue for a rearranged meeting on Monday night.
See Friday’s Eastbourne Herald for match report, reaction and pictures.