Elite League: King’s Lynn Stars 40 Wolverhampton Wolves 52
- Credit: Ian Burt
The Stars' Carl Wilkinson was on cloud nine even though Lynn were brought back down to earth with a hefty bump.
Rob Lyon's side arrived back at the Adrian Flux Arena last night on a huge high having stunned Elite League leaders Belle Vue to pick up a shock 49-41 win 24 hours' earlier.
But it didn't take long for the bubble to burst, with Wolverhampton cruising to a 12-point victory during a meeting they were in control of all evening.
It started badly for the hosts with an opening-race maximum 5-1 deficit setting the tone for a display which has become all too familiar on their own shale this season.
Poor starts, inconsistent individual showings and a lack of points scoring across the board had resulted in four Saddlebow Road defeats in 11 matches. And it's why another came against Wolves.
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In truth it was another shocking night for out-of-sorts captain Rory Schlein and heat leader Troy Batchelor while Kai Huckenbeck – who had starred at Vue – left supporters scratching their heads. How could the German have performed so outstandingly in Manchester and only chalked up paid two from three rides back in Norfolk?
As always, Niels-Kristian Iversen, Robert Lambert and Lewis Rose did their best to carry Lynn but for once even they were upstaged by one of their own team-mates. His name was Wilkinson.
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The veteran journeyman has raced thousands of laps throughout his long career but none will probably be as memorable as the four he enjoyed last night while taking to the tapes alongside world champion Tai Woffinden.
Heat nine, August 25, 2016 will forever be etched in his memory after the Boston-based 35-year-old left the sport's biggest star for dust at the tapes. Woffinden was probably even less shocked than 'Wilko'.
As the crowd's stunned silence turned into raucous delight, 'Woffy' tore after the reserve with everything suggesting he would catch and pass him. But Wilkinson had other ideas. This was his moment and he was going to seize it.
For three-and-three-quarter-laps the well-travelled racer gave it everything to hold off the man who is adored by millions. Incredibly it's exactly what he did, with Wilkinson even finding time to punch the air in pure elated joy as he crossed the finishing line first.
His celebratory lap said it all. It was the Lincolnshire man's best race of his career. Probably his most famous win. And it put a smile on everybody's face – perhaps even Woffinden's.
It was really about as happy as it got for Lynn who would have been hammered by more had it not been for the exploits of Rose, Wilkinson, Iversen and Robert Lambert.
Too many passengers has been the theme almost all term and last night three more stepped upon the Stars bus and stayed there pretty much all night.
The problem is it hasn't always been the same trio – especially as Lyon and co-promoter Dale Allitt have, for a variety of reasons, struggled to field the same seven-man line-up for weeks. With the latest threesome barely pulling up twigs, let alone trees, and sensational guest Rohan Tungate chalking up 14 points, it was a breeze for Wolves.
They look destined for the play-offs while the Stars' season is definitely one they will want to forget. Although Wilkinson will want to remember the night he beat the racer considered to be the best on the planet.
Lynn: 1 Iversen 11 (includes tactical), 2 Huckenbeck 1+1, 3 R Lambert 8, 4 Schlein 2+1, 5 Batchelor 3, 6 Wilkinson 8+2, 7 Rose 7
Wolves: 1 Lindgren 9+4, 2 Tungate (Guest) 14, 3 Woffinden 14+1, 4 Rider/replacement N/A, 5 Masters 4+1, 6 Howarth 7+1, 7 Clegg 4+1