Photo gallery: Elite League: King’s Lynn Stars 51, Lakeside Hammers 39
- Credit: IAN BURT
Maximum-man Niels-Kristian Iversen got over his Grand Prix disappointment to inspire the Stars to all three league points.
The Dane was unhappy with his six-point haul from Saturday's world championship opener in New Zealand but he couldn't have been anymore pleased with his and Lynn's first Elite League fixture of the campaign. The Stars' number one went through the card with ease and picked up five wins to record a faultless 15-point haul.
Iversen's fantastic display spearheaded Lynn's push to win by seven points or more – which they comfortably achieved in the end thanks to a fine second-half of the meeting. Supported ably by captain and fellow heat leader Rory Schlein, especially in the nominated race, the pair excelled as Rob Lyon's troops picked up five maximum race wins, by five points to one, in the last seven.
It inflincted Lakeside's first defeat of the campaign and ensured the Norfolk Arena outfit got their term off to a flier.
For so long, it had been nip and tuck between the two teams that are expected by many to seriously challenge for an end-of-season play-off place. Lynn started well, with Iversen and reserve Lewis Rose triumphing in the opening two to put the Stars in front. A 5-1 involving Kenneth Bjerre – who performed well on his return to the GP scene on Saturday and looked quick for most of Lynn's curtain-raiser – and Schlein opened up a six-point gap. But a string of errors and sloppy gating allowed the Hammers back into the meeting. Nicklas Porsing's two retirements and Lewis Kerr's struggles to get to grips with turn two slowed their side's momentum as Lakeside – powered forward by Fast Track talent Adam Ellis – pulled it level after six.
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Senior debutant Kerr nearly fenced his machine in heat two and came off while leading in the fourth. And his former Young Stars team-mate Robert Lambert, on his big debut in speedway's top tier at the age of 16, also struggled to keep pace early on – especially from the tapes.
But both of their nights, and Porsing's, improved considerably. Teenage talent Lambert lifted, again, in the eighth but shot around the outside to pick up two confidence-boosting points. Better will surely come from Lynn's big hope once he gets used to the grippy nature of an Elite League track at the start.
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Kerr pushed out Ellis in the ninth to allow his fellow reserve Rose through as the Stars started to turn the screw. Back-to-back 5-1s, this time involving the supremely quick and classy Iversen and Porsing – who had the door opened for him delightfully by the superstar – gave Lynn a four-point advantage going into the interval.
It was a lead Lyon's troops never looked like relinquishing. While hot prospect Mikkel Bech split Schlein and Bjerre to ensure the 11th was shared, Porsing showed why he has an equally impressive reputation by darting between Richard Lawson and Ellis to help Kerr record another 5-1.
Two more were to follow in the final three races as the Saddlebow Road club sent out a statement of intent to their Elite League rivals. It did look like the gritty Lakeside, who had won all three of their 2014 meetings before last night's clash, might go home with something as they hammered in a max of their own to take the points-scoring issue, if not the result, down to heat 15.
But with Lynn only needing a race winner to pick up three points, and not two, it looked unlikely, especially with Iversen in such phenomenal form. The 31-year-old drifted out to the boards to pick up grip and raced away to make sure his unbeaten record for the evening remained. And Schlein followed him home to complete a great start to the term.
Lynn: N-K Iversen 15, N Porsing 4+2, R Schlein 9+3, R Lambert 4, K Bjerre 6+2, L Kerr 7, L Rose 6+1
Lakeside: P Karlsson 6, R Lawson 5+1, D Watt 6+1, M Bech 10+2, L Bridger 1, B Morley 0, A Ellis 11+1