Hosts have to settle for race-off after Lynn thriller

A packed King's Lynn stadium and the Sky television cameras last night witnessed defending World Cup champions Poland breeze through to the final and Team Great Britain reach the race-off.

Led by world champion Tomasz Gollob, the Poles' lead was rarely threatened.

But the bumper 5,000-strong Norfolk Arena crowd watched Team GB finish a deserved second on a perfect and memorable summer's evening. The race-off is on Thursday at Gorzow in Poland, where the top two will also qualify for the final, also at Gorzow, on Saturday.

It was not a happy night for the Lynn Stars' two Czech riders Tomas Topinka – who has only just returned from injury – and prot�g� Filip Sitera as their team missed the race-off by a point and finished last behind Russia, who were a man short.

Three of Topinka's and Sitera's King's Lynn teammates were already through to the final as Kenneth Bjerre, Niels Kristian Iversen and Mads Korneliussen of Denmark topped Saturday's first event.

The host nation gained a dream start in the opening heat with Great Britain captain Chris 'Bomber' Harris having a furious duel with Russia's Roman Povazhny before forging ahead. Polish captain Tomasz Gollob thrillingly passed Povazhny on the final lap, to leave the Czechs and Ales Dryml pointless.

Russia gained their first win straight away via Sergey Darkin beating GB's Scott Nicholls.

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Team GB were up against it in Heat 3 when Tai Woffinden was excluded for a spectacular first bend collision with Lukas Dryml. Thankfully both riders were up pretty quickly, and Poland's Janusz Kolodziej won the re-run.

Winner of Heat 4 Piotr Protasiewicz of Poland beat former King's Lynn teammate Topinka, who was last in his first race.

Heat 5 was the first of the three-man races as Russia fielded no number five rider. It was won by Krzysztof Kasprak as Poland looked like early favourites to take the meeting following their third successive victory.

Lukas Dryml lost control of his bike on the first bend and was excluded from Heat 6 in a night of many spills and thrills.

Woffinden recorded his first points following two exclusions in Heat 12 with a timely win for GB which put them clear in second.

A hat-trick from Krzysztof Kasprzak, followed home by Edward Kennett, made the scores Russia 13, GB 23, Poland 33 and the Czech Republic 9 at the halfway stage.

The twice re-run Heat 15 was outstanding. Darkin was excluded after tangling with Lukas Dryml, who was excluded in the re-run for sending Harris into the fence. In the second re-run Jaroslaw Hampel, edged out Harris, who had just sensationally beaten the world champion for the second time.

The desperate Russians played their double-points scoring 'joker' in Heat 19, but Renat Gafurov could only manage third.

The Czech joker immediately followed, from which Lukas Drmyl bagged four points, but the Czech attempt looked doomed when Sitera was relegated to last in Heat 21.

Russia failed to score in four races, which gave the Czechs a lifeline going into the three-man final outing two points behind. However Gollob's crowning victory and Topinka's third spot behind Woffinden meant Russia sneaked through.

• Final points: Poland 62 (Krzysztof Kasprzak 15), Great Britain 49 (Chris Harris 16), Russia 21 (Roman Povazhny 8), Czech Republic 20 (Lukas Dryml 9.)

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