Monday, July 15, 2024
Oxford SpeedwaySpires

REPORT: Spires gain crucial point, but lose out in Super Heat against league leaders

OXS Oxford Spires gained a point with a 45-45 result, but then lost out in the concluding Super Heat against league leaders Ipswich Witches in the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership at Oxford Stadium last night (Thursday).

Ipswich had already won 48-42 at Sandy Lane in April, and picked up another victory after brilliant Russian Emil Sayfutdinov and Witches’ guest Scott Nicholls took a 7-2 over Maciej Janowski and Chris Harris in the additional Super Heat, with Nicholls fending off pressure from Janowski.

Across Spires, Cheetahs and Chargers, there have already been 19 completed meetings at Sandy Lane this year, and Witches are the only visitors to emerge victorious and have now done so twice. The three Oxford sides have won the other 17 meetings.

In a meeting of changing fortunes, Ipswich led 14-10 after four races, but Spires levelled with a 5-1 after Charles Wright and Janowski over Nicholls in Heat 5.

Spires took the lead for the first time with a further 5-1 from Harris and Erik Riss in Heat 7, after Harris burst around Adam Ellis.

In Heat 8, 16-year-old Ashton Boughen flew out of the tapes to head home Jordan Jenkins as Spires pulled four points ahead with a 4-2, with Drew Kemp fending off Dan Thompson for third place.

A 5-1 from Boughen and Rohan Tungate in Heat 10 extended Spires’ lead to eight points, after Tungate’s persistence paid off, when he forced a route under Ellis on the final lap.

That put Witches into tactical territory and Sayfutdinov came into Heat 11 to join Nicholls for a 5-1. It was the first of three successive maximum heat wins for Witches, as they moved from eight points down to four points in front. Heat 13 was spectacular, after Tungate and Harris led from the start, but the race was turned upside down by a superb cut back by Sayfutdinov, as Nicholls also battled through in a 5-1 to Witches.

The meeting seemed to have edged away from Spires when Witches got out for a 4-2 in Heat 14. But third-placed Keynan Rew fell in a battle for the minor positions and was excluded. Ellis again led in the re-run, but Riss pushed under him on the second lap, and Wright followed a lap later, as Spires levelled the scores with a 5-1.

Heat 15 provided more drama. Riss led from Sayfutdinov, but Tungate and Nicholls collided on the third turn and both came down. Nicholls verbally berated Tungate in front of the Oxford supporters spectating on the fourth turn, and led to the unusual occurrence of Nicholls – skipper of the Oxford Cheetahs – being booed by the Cowley support.

Nicholls was deemed at fault by referee Christina Turnbull and was excluded, much to the annoyance of Witches’ team manager Ritchie Hawkins.

In the re-run, Riss and Tungate trapped, but Sayfutdinov was in irresistible form and swept around both Spires on the opening lap to complete a brilliant full 18-point maximum and take the meeting to the extra race.

Erik Riss top-scored for Spires with 10+2. The German star said: “I’m really pleased with my own performance tonight. It’s been a long time coming, because I’ve really struggled the last few weeks – not just at Oxford, but also away from home.

“I had some mechanical issues that I couldn’t get to the bottom of, but it feels like I finally have. Today I felt comfortable on the bike and I had speed.

“My bike was working very well on the inside tonight. After Keynan (Rew) was excluded in Heat 14, we knew that if we could beat Adam (Ellis) in the re-run, we still had a chance to take the win, which we did after I came through to pass him and then Charles also did.

“It was a shame we ended up in losing in the Super Heat. We did get one point for taking the meeting to that race, but it’s still gutting not to be the winning team at the end of the evening.

“The track was slick tonight, but there were still plenty of lines – you could use the outside by the fence or the inside on the white line. It was really close racing and we all chipped in. But Ipswich are the league leaders and have a very good side.”

Spires remain in the crucial fourth place in the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership table, two points ahead of Leicester Lions.

Spires are next back in action on Monday, when they travel to Birmingham, where they previously picked up a 48-42 victory on April 1. The Birmingham promotion have put on a special promotion, where Oxford supporters can obtain both travel by coach and admission to the meeting for £30. Details are on the Oxford speedway website at:  https://oxfordspeedway.club/2024/07/special-deal-for-fans-to-attend-birmingham-v-oxford-on-monday-july-8/

The next action at Oxford Stadium is a week on Sunday (July 14) at 3pm, when the Real Mini Company Oxford Chargers powered by SD Timmo Car Sales host the Scunthorpe Stags in the WSRA National League. Tickets will be on sale in due course at https://oxfordspeedway.club/tickets/

OXS Oxford Spires 45: Rohan Tungate 8+1, Drew Kemp 1, Maciej Janowski 5+3, Charles Wright 9+1, Chris Harris 6, Erik Riss 10+2, Ashton Boughen 6.

Ipswich Witches 45: Scott Nicholls 8+2, Dan Thompson 1, Danny King 6, Adam Ellis 3, Emil Sayfutdinov 18, Keynan Rew 5+1, Jordan Jenkins 4+1.

Ipswich win Super Heat by 7-2. Super Heat result: Sayfutdinov, Nicholls, Janowski, Harris.

PHOTO: Erik Riss and Charles Wright pass Adam Ellis for a 5-1 in the re-run of Heat 14 (pic: Steve Edmunds)