Photo gallery: Elite League: King’s Lynn Stars 47, Poole Pirates 43
- Credit: IAN BURT
Lynn demonstated their championship credentials again tonight by putting last year's title-winners to the sword.
The Stars extended their unbeaten home start to 2014 with a heat to spare against the Poole Pirates who have won two out of the last three Elite League Grand Finals. But, for just the second time in six Norfolk Arena meetings this term, the hosts failed to pick up the maximum three points on offer as a result of triumphing by seven points or more.
Not for the first time during this highly-successful start to the campaign, Rob Lyon's in-form riders had to ensure they enjoyed a positive result in the evening's finale to max out. Yet this time they flopped in the 15th as disappointing guest Tai Woffinden and Rory Schlein – who gave everything to the line – were on the wrong side of a 5-1 reverse as the Pirates sailed to a losing bonus point.
Two points was still a pretty decent return for a Lynn side whose top-scorer on the evening was not one of their heat leaders. Niels-Kristian Iversen fell and struggled to four, paid seven, from as many rides while only Schlein got near double figures. So credit had to go to second-strings Nicklas Porsing, Robert Lambert and sensational reserve Lewis Kerr, the biggest-hitter of all 14 racers on show with 12, for ensuring their team didn't lose their proud home record.
If it wasn't for owner Buster Chapman's amazing ability to prepare a track the action would have never even got underway. A heavy downpour threatened to see the mouthwatering fixture get postponed at about 5pm but the Lynn chief worked his magic.
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The well-known circuit curator worked tirelessly to remove all the sodden shale and replace it with fresh dirt. And after almost two hours' worth of hard work Chapman's efforts were finally rewarded. Supporters may have been forced to wait for 40 minutes later than planned but they were as pleased as anyone when it was tapes up at last.
Those fans were not left disappointed as the outstanding surface produced some extremely quick action with former Star, Poole number one Ward, winning the opener inside a minute. The home side's Iversen was unusually caught cold and ran a shock third.
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But Saddlebow Road success was resumed in the second and third as Lynn recorded 4-2s thanks to race victories for Kerr and captain Schlein. It became an eight-point lead when Woffinden, for the only time during his evening's spell in Lynn colours guesting for Kenneth Bjerre, showed why he is world champion, followed home by Iversen. Lambert produced a sublime sub-60 ride to beat Pirates' heat leader Przemyslaw Pawlici.
Unfortunately that advantage started to be clawed back when the visitors picked up two successive heat advantages, including a big 5-1 in the 11th. Yet the brilliant Kerr and the improving Porsing hit back with one of their own to leave Lynn on course for carrying on their theme - that three is the magic number.
A 4-2 from Lambert and Kerr left their experienced team-mates of Schlein and Woffinden only needing a 3-3 to do the business. But they failed as former Stars Maciej Janowski and Ward triumphed to spoil their former club's party.
Lynn: N-K Iversen 4+3, N Porsing 8+1, R Schlein 9, R Lambert 7+1, T Woffinden 6, L Kerr 12, D Mallett 1
Poole: D Ward 11, J Grajczonek 4, P Pawlicki 4, V Milik 5+1, M Janowski 11+2, K Newman 7, B Hopwood 1+1
- A gallery of Ian Burt's pictures will be added to this report soon.