PREVIEW: Euro Club Championship 2014

The first major weekend of the 2014 Cycle Speedway calendar is upon us, with the Euro Club Championship taking place at Exeter Cycle Speedway Club.

There is a busy three days of racing programmed, featuring teams battling it out from the UK and Poland. Leading the charge from a UK point of view will be 2010 finalists Wednesfield. They will no doubt be fielding a line up of top international pedigree and will be hoping to fire themselves through the substantial qualifying process as quickly as possible. They take their place in a difficult Q1, where they should be facing two Polish sides Ostrow and Czestochowa, along with Coventry’s youthful line-up – their riders are under 18, all of whom will be hoping to prove themselves at a higher level. However, rumours are circulating that Czestochowa will not turn up, which is massively disappointing and threatens to make the first day and second morning a moot point, as all teams are likely progress through to the Quarter Finals by default.

Q2 should have seen the 4th placed team from Q1 thrust straight back into action with three UK teams, what actually happens will be anyone’s guess – but the qualifier will definitely feature the hosts Exeter and two Elite League clubs in Sheffield and Newport. The Yorkshire side, who were 2012 Euro Club finalists, faced their Welsh rivals only last Sunday and will be looking to field a strong team to part-avenge their defeat at the International Sports Village.

Polish favourites and current Euro Club title holders Leszno face South and South Wales teams Swindon and Poole in their qualifier, along with an ICSF Select team, who are not allowed to qualify from event 1. Leszno will no doubt be expected to go straight through to the quarter finals, Elite League champions Poole will be hoping to put in a big performance for a morale boost after a poor start to the Elite League campaign. Swindon have battling side full of team spirit, they will be looking to make their mark on the international stage.

The final qualifier features Elite League leaders Ipswich taking on Birmingham and current Polish league champions Torun, along with another ICSF Select team. Ipswich have made a fantastic start to the 2014 season, which has been years in the making, nurturing their youthful squad into serious contenders. Can they step it up on the International stage? We will find out this weekend. Standing in their way are a Birmingham side, who despite predictions of a struggle this year, have seen an electric start to their Midland League campaign thanks to a recruitment drive, as well as recruiting riders out of retirement. Led by Chris Timms, who has been as fast as ever recently, they could really upset the apple cart in what could be the best Qualifier of the day, when you consider themselves and Ipswich also have DMP champions and 2012 Euro Club finalists Torun, as well as the unknown of the ICSF Select team to deal with.

After the first 4 qualifiers, the teams either qualify for the quarter finals immediately or go through a lengthly qualifying process, which with the potential drop out, will at least give all the clubs a decent run out on the Exeter circuit before all teams return for the quarter finals on Sunday – if it does indeed run that way with the vacant slot.

The qualifying system is quite complex so we’ll do our best to explain how the event will be run.

Day one – Saturday 3rd May 2014

EVENT 1 – Qualifying Rounds 1 to 4

Q1 – 12:00hrs Wednesfield Coventry Ostrow Czestochowa
Q2 – 13:00hrs 4th from Q1 Exeter Sheffield Newport
Q3 – 14:00hrs Leszno * ICSF Select Swindon Poole
Q4 – 15:00hrs Ipswich * ICSF Select Birmingham Torun

4 x first place progress into EVENT 3 – (Quarter-Finals)

4 x runners-up compete in EVENT 2  – (Qualifying Round 5)

4 x third-place compete in EVENT 2  – (Qualifying Round 6)

4th place team in Q2 to compete in EVENT 2  – (Qualifying Round 8)

NOTE: * ICSF Select will compete as a ‘scratch team’ but will NOT be able to qualify.

EVENT 2 – Qualifying Rounds 5 and 6

Q5 – 16:30hrs 2nd in Q1 2nd in Q2 2nd in Q3 2nd in Q4
Q6 – 17:30hrs 3rd in Q1 3rd in Q2 3rd in Q3 3rd in Q4

1st & 2nd from Qualifying 5 progress to EVENT 3 (Quarter-Finals)

3rd & 4th from Qualifying 5 plus 1st & 2nd from Qualifying 6 compete in Q7

3rd & 4th from Qualifying 6 to compete in Q8

 Day two – Sunday 4th May 2014

EVENT 2 – Qualifying Rounds 7 and 8

Q7 – 10:00hrs 3rd in Q5 4th in Q5 1st in Q6 2nd in Q6
Q8 – 11:30hrs 4th in Q2 3rd in Q6 4th in Q6 4th in Q7

1st, 2nd & 3rd from Qualifying 7 progress to EVENT 3 (Quarter-Finals)

4th place from Qualifying 7 to compete in Q8

1st,, 2nd & 3rd from Qualifying 8 progress to EVENT 3 (Quarter-Finals)

4th from Qualifying 8 will be Eliminated

EVENT 3 – Quarter Finals

1/4 Final A-13:00hrs 1st in Q3 1st in Q5 1st in Q7 3rd in Q8
1/4 Final B-14:00hrs 1st in Q2 2nd in Q5 1st in Q8 2nd in Q7
1/4 Final C-15:00hrs 1st in Q1 1st in Q4 2nd in Q8 3rd in Q7
1/4 Final D-16:30hrs 3rd in A 3rd in B 3rd in C Best 4th

Winners & Runners-up (from 1/4 Final A,B & C) progress to SEMI FINAL

3rd placed teams & highest scoring 4th from 1/4 Finals A, B , C progress to 1/4 Final D

The 2 lowest scoring 4th place teams will be Eliminated

Winners & Runner-up from 1/4 Final D progress to SEMI FINAL

Day three – Monday 5th May 2014

EVENT 4 – Semi Finals

SEMI 1 – 11:00hrs 1st in A 1st in C 2nd in B 2nd in D
SEMI 2 – 12:00hrs 1st in B 2nd in A 2nd in C 1st in D

EVENT 5 – Consolation Final

CF – 14:00hrs 3rd in SF1 4th in SF1 3rd in SF2 4th in SF2

EVENT 6 – Grand Final

SEMI 1 – 16:00hrs 1st in SF1 2nd in SF1 1st in SF2 2nd in SF2

After all that the winning club will be crowned Euro Club champions for 2014!

Before all this takes place, it requires months of planning and plenty of work to do for the host club, Exeter.

The Devonshire club and it’s volunteers have been busy this week putting the finishing touches to the Wheels Centre circuit as you can see in this video posted by Dan Winchester, who himself is massively excited to be announcing his first major Cycle Speedway event this weekend and these photographs of the Aces team’s handy work.

We would like to wish Exeter Aces CSC all the best with this weekend and hope it goes as well as your hard work deserves, good luck!