King's Lynn rider heads into the unknown
Paddy DavittKing's Lynn racer Kozza Smith takes a step into the unknown in tomorrow's Premier League KO Cup semi-final, first leg at Newcastle. (6.30pm)Smith has never raced at Byker in his British career to date but the EDP columnist is confident Rob Lyon's holders can overhaul the Diamonds.Paddy Davitt
King's Lynn racer Kozza Smith takes a step into the unknown in tomorrow's Premier League KO Cup semi-final, first leg at Newcastle. (6.30pm)
Smith has never raced at Byker in his British career to date but the EDP columnist is confident Rob Lyon's holders can overhaul the Diamonds.
'I've never ridden the track before,' he said. 'The first year I was here I had to go off and compete in the World U21s and then last year when we raced I was injured but from what I have been told it's a track with long straights and really tight corners so all I can do is get there and see how we go and just try to ride it.
'They are looking pretty strong if you check out some of their recent results, so maybe they have a little home track advantage like we do, but it's a semi-final. We have to look to at least keep it close and then we can really turn them over at home. We've got a full team now, which makes us even stronger, and we have had some great results up north so far this season.'
Smith has added a full point to his seasonal average after a string of consistent displays home and away but the Aussie wants to forget his paid seven struggles in the midweek 49-44 league battle against Workington.
'I'm reasonably happy with that,' he said. 'It's not too bad but, of course, I still would like to go higher. Kev (Doolan) has gone to number one and he deserves that but we all want the number one, so we'll be trying to push him as hard as we can.
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'I've been working on my clutch after Wednesday because it was terrible. I've had a fiddle with it because I wasn't happy and it feels good but we'll soon know when we get in and amongst it again. It felt like a struggle most of the night. The track wasn't ideal but you can't use that as an excuse - I just wasn't making the gates and it makes it tough. They had a couple of boys who knew the quick way round and they were making starts and putting it up to us with some good hard corners.'
Lynn's bid for another maximum home league win ended with a rare aberration from skipper Tomas Topinka trying to overhaul Chris Schramm in the finale.
'I think Tomas just wanted to get one over on Schrammy out of that last corner,' said Smith. 'We all want to race and that is part of being a speedway rider but it's certainly not like Tom to fall down. I've very rarely seen that when there are no other bikes involved - maybe there was slick spot out of that turn.
'We know if he had stayed on the bike and finished where he did that would've been enough to get another league point, but you can't lay the blame at Tom. It's a team effort. I didn't do the job I needed to do and there was a couple of other boys could say the same.'
Stars: 1 Kevin Doolan, 2 Joe Haines, 3 Kozza Smith, 4 Linus Eklof, 5 Tomas Topinka, 6 Darren Mallett, 7 Casper Wortmann.
Read Kozza latest exclusive column only on edp24.co.uk/sport