Speedway: Rampant Aces Make Return Trip To Grand Final


Belle Vue Aces   63  – 28   Lakeside Hammers 

(Agg: Belle Vue win 112-69)  

Belle Vue on Wednesday night booked their place back in the Elite League Grand Final with a demolition job on the Lakeside Hammers at the National Speedway Stadium with a magnificent team performance throughout and winning 63-28. 

The Aces came into the second leg holding an 8 point advantage from their win down in Purfleet last week and from the first race it was all Mark Lemon’s side hammering home (no pun intended) the final nail into their opponents coffin. Both teams had a guest rider due to Belle Vue’s Max Fricke & Lakeside’s Andreas Jonsson involvement with Rospiggarna in the Swedish playoff final, and won, it saw the Swedish meeting taking precedence over the two semi-finals that was on-going. With Lakeside drafting in King’s Lynn rider Robert Lambert as their replacement for Jonsson, it saw Lemon bringing in former Ace and Leicester Lions man Patrick Hougaard back wearing the ‘Ace of Clubs’ logo.

The Aces started as they meant to go on with a maximum 5-1 in Heat 1 through Steve Worrall and Matej Zagar, as both riders flown passed Rob Lambert in the opening race to see them increasing their aggregate score. Heat 2 saw a similar result for the hosts when a back in form Richie Worrall made a rocket start out of the gate and was joined by Joe Jacobs who faced a stiff test from Robert Branford of the Hammers but kept second. Belle Vue then shown their pass capabilities too, when the Aces reserved a 4-2 scenario into a 4-2 advantage for themselves with Craig Cook and Patrick Hougaard getting the better of Eddie Kennett and Kim Nilsson of the visitors.

Captain of the Aces in Scott Nicholls then joined in on the action in Heat 4, when he and Joe Jacobs passed Rob Branford on the third and fourth bends of lap one to see another 5-1 for the home side and move 14-points ahead on the night and stretch their overall lead to 22 points. Despite the scoreline being heavily in the Aces favour the racing was anything but and was arguably the best racing seen at this new circuit all year, with some exceptional passing and team riding to boot.  The race of the night came saw an British- battle between Lewis Bridger and the two Worrall brothers in Steve and Richie in Heat 5 as the Worrall’s made the initial gate and had Bridger flying passed Steve on the final bend of the opening lap before chasing down Richie with the two passing and re-passing for the rest of the race.

Lakeside boss Jon Cook saw him picking the wrong rider to use his tactical points on, as Kim Nilsson was given that honour in Heat 6 but his team mate in Rob Lambert took the chequered flag ahead of Nicholls for the Hammers and saw Nilsson just managing to beat Hougaard who struggled in his first two outing for the Aces. The result was the Hammers first and only race advantage on the night as they scored a 5-2 with Nilsson doubling his point to two for beating an opposing rider. Belle Vue struck back in the following race with a Zagar and Cook 5-1 and with Nicholls and Jacob collecting a 4-2 themselves in the following race it saw the Aces grinding their playoff opponents into the dirt and saw the Hammers having no answers for an team keen to make amends for last year.

Victorious Aces side   Pic taken from ManchesterEveningNews

Heat 9 saw Lakeside’s third race winner of the night in Richard Lawson take the win ahead of the Worrall brothers and saw the Scottish rider hanging on for the win with Steve Worrall edging closer and closer to the Hammers man who just had enough to hold him off in a stunning race. Belle Vue then banged in a couple of successive 5-1’s before the interval to see the meeting over at 46-21 and leave the overall tie well and truly over after the opening four races of the night.

New Zealander Robert Branford then got a well deserved victory in Heat 12, after the Kiwi-born rider raced Joe Jacobs hard to the turns and see his hard efforts pay off for a race win. Heat 13 saw Craig Cook flying away from the tapes for an easy win while his partner in crime in Matej Zagar made a ruthless move on Kim Nilsson to see the Slovenian forcing his way into third place and securing a 4-2 advantage for the home side. The Manchester club warmed up for the grand final with two more maximum race advantages to see the Aces hitting the 60 points barrier and see the home side roaring into the final against a familiar title foe in Wolverhampton over two legs next week, starting at Monmore Green next Monday with the return on Wednesday night.

For Wolverhampton it will be a case of revenge for the men from the West Midlands and a chance to erase that famous night back in October of 93’, when a last heat decider saw Bobby Ott securing the league title for the Manchester club on Wolves home turf. So they will want to extract revenge for sure and with World Champion Tai Woffinden in their ranks it is going to be an extremely difficult final for the Aces. One interesting side note to the Grand Final is that Peter Karlsson who will be riding for the Wolves was actually one of the riders in that final heat that saw Belle Vue taking the trophy home up the M6. 

For Belle Vue the final will be a way to banish the memories of last season’s disappointment against Poole and also Coventry back in 2005, with the Aces just always finding it difficult to crossing the finishing line. They will be hoping to finally lift that league title that has eluded the most decorated Speedway club in Britain for 23 years, after their last league success came back in 1993 when they ironically beat Wolverhampton for it.

Could there be a repeat performance of 1993 perhaps ?

Belle Vue Aces = 63 (112)

1. Matej Zagar – 2*, 3, 3, 1 = 9+1
2. Steve Worrall – 3, 1*, 2, 2* = 8+2
3. Patrick Hougaard (G) – 1, 0, 2*, 3 = 6+1
4. Scott Nicholls – 3, 2, 3, 2*,2* = 12+2
5. Craig Cook – 3, 2*, 3, 3, 3 = 14+1
6. Richie Worrall – 3, 2, 1*, 1* = 7+2
7. Joe Jacobs – 2*, 2*, 1, 2 = 7+2

Lakeside Hammers = 28 (69)

1. Robert Lambert (G) – 1, 3, 1, 2, 1 = 8
2. Lewis Bridger – 0, 3, 2, 0 = 5
3. Edward Kennett – 0, 1, 0, 1 = 2
4. Richard Lawson – 1, 0, 3, 0 = 4
5. Kim Nilsson – 2, 2, 1, 0, 0 =5
6. Ben Morley – 0, 0, 0, 0 = 0
7. Robert Branford – 1, 0, 0, 3 = 4



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