Elite League: King’s Lynn Stars 39 Belle Vue Aces 54
- Credit: Ian Burt
The Stars crashed to their first home defeat against Belle Vue since returning to the Elite League as the Aces fired a warning to their title rivals.
Lynn had won all nine meetings against the Manchester men since stepping back into the top-flight in 2011. But they never even came close to completing a perfect 10 at Saddlebow Road as they misfired badly against last season's runners-up.
Mark Lemon's visitors were in a class of their own as they showed why many expect them to push champions Poole Pirates all the way again. And it was painful to watch.
The Stars were out-gated, outpaced and outclassed almost all evening and were put out of their misery with two heats to spare. Had the interval not halted the Aces' momentum, the away side's victory could have been wrapped up even sooner than the 13th.
Some Lynn pride was restored in the final five races after the break but in reality it was only a case of damage limitation, having failed to make any sort of contest of the meeting.
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Captain Rory Schlein was as honest as ever when he was interviewed over the public address system during his side's mid-meeting slump. Unfortunately he was only telling the bemused crowd what they already knew.
The Aussie said: 'They're pulling our pants down. We're quick enough. We're just not gating. They're so much better out of the starts than us.'
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While the embarrassment was decreased somewhat by a string of shared heats in the second half, the gating masterclass had already made all of the difference.
The Aces made a complete mockery of their race-rustiness during their first fixture of the term time and time again at the tapes. In fact, on nine occasions out of 15, it was the Vue pairing who hit the first turn in control.
Containing a side packed with such classy operators as Matej Zagar, Craig Cook and Scott Nicholls, it was little wonder that Rob Lyon's home side often had no answer. Try as they might, and they did, they were too often second best.
Three successive 5-1 maximum race wins for Vue from the sixth saw them take complete command with most of their men, including reserve Steve Worrall, proving almost unbeatable – especially from the get-go.
It was even the same in the Stars' major highlight of the evening. Young German Kai Huckenbeck was deployed as a tactical but looked like he had made a massive mess of his chance to score double points as he found himself in third coming out of the first turn.
Somehow he got his act together and charged after Steve Worrall and round the outside of him before ripping up the inside of the man's twin brother Richie two turns later to record a fine triumph.
Yet that – apart from a couple of late victories for Niels-Kristian Iversen – was the only real bright spot on a night when heat leaders Schlein and Mads Korneliussen were comprehensively outscored by their impressive counterparts.
It's not time to panic yet for Lynn as they seek a top-four finish. But the truth is they will never keep with the league's top sides, including the Aces, if they're so slow out of the traps.
Judging on the evidence the Aces deserve their lofty pre-season billing as championship contenders while the well-beaten Stars are clearly a work in progress that need to go back to gating school.
Lynn: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen 12, 2 Kai Huckenbeck 9*, 3 Rory Schlein 4, 4 Mads Korneliussen 4, 5 Robert Lambert 3, 6 Carl Wilkinson 4+2, 7 Lewis Rose 3+1
Aces: 1 Matej Zagar 9+1, 2 Max Fricke 7, 3 Scott Nicholls 12+1, 4 Richie Worrall 6+2, 5 Craig Cook 9+3, 6 Joe Jacobs 0, 7 Steve Worrall 11+2