SUPERTRAX PREVIEW: The battle continues in round 2…
Sheffield, Horspath (Oxford) and Ipswich host this weekend’s elite Cycle Speedway Supertrax action, in round two of the Battle of Britain and Women’s League.
The North and Scotland sit on top of the elite men standings after a surprise win in the first round against the South West and Wales, who’s late withdrawals scuppered their hopes of taking away the points from Manchester.
It’s the second home fixture on the trot for the North and Scotland, this time across the Pennines at Cookson Park in Sheffield. They welcome a Midlands team who will be hungry to put right their first round home defeat against South East and East in Leicester.
The North and Scotland are likely to be unchanged, lead by the Polish powerhouse, Damian Zareba and Great Britain riders Ben Higham and Jake Read. Astley and Tyldesley’s young racer, Reece Pollitt, equally returned a solid points score in round one.
Their opponents will be lead by Paul Heard and Myke Grimes but the management may look to add more strength and depth. With a plethora of talent to choose from in the Midlands, it will certainly give bosses Mark Winwood and Wayne Aris selection headaches.
The elite junior class will no doubt provide yet another entertaining meeting, with not much to choose between the two sides. The Midlands left it late to come back against the South East and East, in contrast the North and Scotland registered a comfortable win against the South West and Wales in round one. The winner of this encounter will sit on top of the table with 4 rounds remaining.
In Oxford, the South East and East travel to the tight Horspath track to face South West and Wales. The home side, on paper at least, are arguably the strongest side in 2017, however they are weakened by the loss of Mark Carmichael, who has a severe shoulder injury sustained in a car crash.
They still have many high calibre riders available to them; Zac Payne, Ben Mould, Mateij Ganczarek, Greg Gluchowski, Steve Harris and Jack Harrold to name just a few of their top end fire power and a side with the potential to defeat any team in the world.
The South East and East’s biggest weapon is camaraderie. Their squad is mostly made up of Ipswich’s Elite League squad from last season, meaning their riders are all used to racing together, as opposed to the rest of the regions who are still building team bonds.
Josh Brooke, Lewis Osborne and Matt Hill did the most damage against the Midlands in an accomplished team performance, they will be hoping for more the same in round two.
The elite juniors on the other hand were frustrated to surrender their sizeable lead in the final heat of round one against the Midlands. They face another tough test against some talented South West and Wales riders, with both teams needing to get some points on the board.
Supertrax Women’s League
Over in Ipswich, the three team Women’s League series continues with South West and Wales currently leading the way after edging away in Exeter. The North and Scotland/South East and East joint team will hope to get closer on their home shale, after finishing just three points adrift of the runners up, the Midlands, last time out.
Poole’s Macie Schmidt leads the elite individual class after a comprehensive win in Exeter. European champion, Lauren Hookway, pushed the Dorset racer all the way in the A final and will not want to let Schmidt make it two out of two with just two rounds left after this weekend.
Maddie Saunders made it a double Poole victory in the intermediate class, winning her first ever Grand Prix. She was followed home by Leicester’s Sophie Middleton.
If you want to catch this weekend’s highly entertaining and explosive action, the Battle of Britain starts with the elite junior class at 1pm at Cookson Park, Sheffield (S5 8LX) and Horspath Recreation Ground, Oxford (OX33 1RT). The Women’s League starts at 12noon at Whitton Sports Centre, Ipswich (IP1 6LN).
Cover photo by Les Brewin.