Monday, July 15, 2024
Oxford SpeedwaySpires

REPORT: Spires win thrilling televised encounter

LAST-heat heroics from Rohan Tungate and Chris Harris saw OXS Oxford Spires take an exciting 48-42 victory over plucky Sheffield Tigers in a cracking televised ROWE Motor Oil Premiership encounter at Oxford Stadium last night (Monday).

Spires entered Heat 15 just two points in front. Chris Holder was first from the tapes ahead of Tungate, and when Josh Pickering edged past Harris into third, an extra Super Heat looked a possibility.

But Tungate thrust inside Holder on the exit to the second bend of the second lap to move into the lead, while Harris then charged around Pickering at the end of the same lap. Harris wasn’t finished and flew inside Holder on the third lap, as Spires took a concluding 5-1.

The victory consolidates Spires’ fourth place in the league table three points ahead of Leicester – a vital position since the top four qualify for the play-offs at the end of the season.

Sheffield went into the evening without their two top riders, following injuries for Jack Holder and Tai Woffinden in the Polish Grand Prix on Saturday. It meant a quick return to Cowley for Lewis Kerr, who replaced Woffinden, while Tigers used rider replacement for Jack Holder.

Chris Holder took the ride in place of his younger brother in Heat 1, and the 2012 World Championship set a new track record time of 57.41, knocking 0.12 off the time set by  Harris last September.

Tigers flew into an early 12-6 lead, but 16-year-old Ashton Boughen was a fine winner of Heat 4, inflicting a defeat on Holder, as Boughen and Harris pegged back a 4-2.

Maciej Janowski and Charles Wright were involved in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Kerr early on in Heat 5, but emerged with a 5-1 that levelled the scores at 15-15.

Five shared heats followed, although they were certainly not without excitement, before Spires moved ahead for the first time with a 5-1 in Heat 11. Harris took the lead by overtaking Howarth on the opening lap, before Erik Riss moved inside Kerr on lap two and then swept around Howarth coming off the final bend to snatch second place in a photo finish.

It was the second very tight finish involving the same two riders, after Howarth pipped Riss to third place in Heat 7.

Tigers hit back with a 4-2 in Heat 12, where Janowski limited the damage by passing Jason Edwards on the third lap.

Tungate and Harris posted a 5-1 in Heat 13 that extended Spires’ lead to six points, but that allowed Holder to come into Heat 14 as a tactical substitute and Tigers hit back with a 5-1 of their own to take the meeting to the dramatic final race.

Neither Tungate (14) or Harris (11+2) dropped a point after their opening outings, while Drew Kemp scored two points on his debut for Spires on his first appearance at Sandy Lane this season.

Rohan Tungate said: “It was tight again and it’s not something we want to be doing every week, but we got the job done and got the win.

“We knew what we had to do in the final race. It wasn’t easy, because Chris and Picko are good riders and pretty hard to catch once they’re clear. We knew we had to get pass them as soon as we could before they got up to full speed. You’ve got to do the job done early in the race.

“It was important to win today, because we’re back here against Ipswich on Thursday. That’s another tough meeting, but we’ve ridden here already this week and that should work in our favour. It’s good for the riders to have two home meetings in one week.

“The fans were really good again tonight and their support always helps us. We’ve had a few tough matches away from home, but we’re now back on track.”

Spires are back in action on Thursday (July 4) when they host league leaders Ipswich Witches in further ROWE Motor Oil Premiership action.

Tickets are already on sale at

OXS Oxford Spires 48: Rohan Tungate 14, Drew Kemp 2, Maciej Janowski 8, Charles Wright 4+2, Chris Harris 11+2, Erik Riss 5+1, Ashton Boughen 4+1.

Sheffield Tigers 42: Jack Holder R/R, Lewis Kerr 5, Josh Pickering 10+1, Kyle Howarth 8+3, Chris Holder 14, Jason Edwards 4+1, Dan Gilkes 1+1.

PHOTO: Rohan Tungate and Chris Harris after fighting their way to the front in Heat 15 (pic: Steve Edmunds)