Belle Vue 52, King’s Lynn 42
Spirited King's Lynn went down to a battling defeat at Belle Vue last night on their long-awaited Elite League return.
Stars' Danish duo Kenneth Bjerre and Mads Korneliussen led the way on the scoresheets with a paid-13 haul each but reserve Morten Risager and young Aussie prospect Sam Masters also impressed.
A bumper crowd at Kirkmanshulme Lane delayed tapes up but the hosts flew from the traps in the opener – Berwick top boy Charlie Gjedde and British number one Chris 'Bomber' Harris too slick for Bjerre.
Risager responded in style to claim the reserves but Czech team mate Filip Sitera hit the shale in the rear as Tomasz Piszcz and Craig Cook squared off the heat. Patrick Hougaard's throttle-perfect night began with a smooth gate although Olly Allen subdued Ricky Kling. Niels-Kristian Iversen was excluded for the visitors in the next as he tried to dive up the inside of Piszcz but Sitera was able to split the Aces' duo in the re-run when the Pole's sickly machine forced him to tour round for a point.
Masters tried an ambitious wide arc to reel in Hougaard but the wily Dane responded after the Aussie had dictated from the tapes. Harris oozed class with a confident heat six trap with Gjedde's first bend assault to overhaul Iversen and Risager raising the decibel levels further.
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Stars' team boss Rob Lyon deployed Korneliussen on a tactical foray in the next but Rory Schlein prevailed as Lynn's Dane had to work overtime to fend off the attentions of Cook to anchor a maiden heat advantage for the visitors.
Gjedde's impressive early season form continued with a routine heat eight flag to move the hosts ten clear before Hougaard and Harris looked to put the north west side out of sight.
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The Cornish racer underlined his credentials as Britain's best with a top bend surge in heat ten to stun Korneliussen after Harris had trailed plumb last into the first turn following a sluggish gate.
Bjerre approached the tapes in heat 11 on a tactical mission but Schlein responded in the fastest time of the night with Cook having too much gas for Masters in the battle for the minor spoils.
Kling eased to the next but Lynn refused to go quietly with Allen and Risager more than a match for Piszcz. Bjerre then broke the spell of home flags in heat 13 – inflicting first defeats on the night for Schlein and grand prix rival Harris. Hougaard completed his full set in the penultimate tour but Bjerre and Korneliussen ensured Lynn signed off with a flourish ahead of Belle Vue's Norfolk Arena visit tomorrow.
• Aces: Harris 9+2, Gjedde 9+1, Kling 4, Hougaard 12, Schlein 12, Cook 3, Piszcz 3+1.
• Stars: Bjerre 12+1, Masters 4, Allen 4+2, Korneliussen 12+1, Iversen 3, Risager 5+2, Sitera 2.