MATCH REPORT: Australia world champions in last lap drama

Salisbury Cycle Speedway Club in Adelaide, South Australia, hosted a truly memorable World Cup final on Saturday evening. Host team, Australia, took the title in dramatic fashion on the final lap of the last race to become world team champions.

England, Wales and Australia came through the qualifying on Monday evening to join 2015 champions, Poland, in the final.

England got off to a good start from their bank of four grid 2s, securing two race wins courtesy of tactical reserve Myke Grimes and Zac Payne to be level on 12 points with grid one sitters, Poland. Australia had a successful block of tricky grid 4s, filling the middle places to take 10 points and set themselves up for the rest of the match on more favoured starting positions.

Australia capitalised on their grid 2s in the next round of racing to take the lead on the match on two points with England (grid 3) and Poland (grid 4) staying in touching distance two points behind, British Champion Grimes providing England’s only race win, while Wales secured their first win of the even through tactical reserve Ben Mould in heat 8.

Australia began to pull away in the next block of four from their grid ones, taking another two wins. England’s Paul Heard took a great win from grid 4, while Poland’s tactical reserve, Dawid Bas, won heat 10. Poland still neck and neck on 31 points, with Australia a healthy 5 points up on 36.

England came back strong in the final set of races before the nominated heats to reduce the Australian deficit to just one point and pull 4 away from Poland after a Dawid Bas tape exclusion. Myke Grimes took his third win of the day, closing out Australian ace, Joel Chadwick in heat 13, while Paul Heard notched another win as the match closed up and the already tense atmosphere reached pressure point.

The final set of races were secret nominations, where each team selects 4 riders to take each grid without the other teams knowing who is racing where. Poland took first scalp from their grid one, Former world champion Lukas Nowacki doing enough to keep Joel Chadwick behind, but nevertheless a healthy three points for Australia off grid 4.

Disaster struck for Australia in the next heat, after Ty Geertsen suffered a gate exclusion. Reigning World Individual Champion, Bartek Grabowski took a while off his grid 4 to hurl Poland back into contention after Grimes clashed with Mould on the first bend.

England lead by one point ahead of both Poland and Australia with two heats remaining. England’s Josh Brooke was unable to get around the Polish powerhouse Pawel Cegielski and ran a last, while Australian Shane Bentley raced to victory with Wales’ Jack Harrold getting between Australia and Poland.

Going in to the final match, three of the four teams could win the title. Australia lead by two on 52, Poland and England 50 each. If Australia finished third, a run off for the title would be likely, but if they ran a last, England or Poland could win it with a race win.

England had the favoured grid one and lined up with captain Paul Heard, Poland’s Dawid Bas took two and Australia’s Cody Chadwick on three.

Bas made a big start and forced his way around Heard to take the lead, with a Chadwick settling into third. Not settling for silver or bronze, Heard chased for three laps, until the final lap going into turn one, diving in on Bas in an attempt to snatch victory, but the Polish star did just enough to stay in front and Heard subsequently came to grief. This allowed Chadwick into second and win the title for Australia in dramatic fashion.

Australian fans raced on to the track to celebrate, while Poland, who claimed second, and England were left to mull over what could have been. Spectators and those watching Periscope streams at home were treated to world class Cycle Speedway of the highest order, which has evidently gone up another level on this tour.

Chris Timms 3, Josh Brooke 9, Zac Payne 9, Paul Heard 13, Myke Grimes 17

Mark Carmichael 3, Mark Winwood 5, Dean Hook 6, Jack Harrold 11, Ben Mould 10

Daniel Robb 8, Shane Bentley 11, Cody Chadwick 11, Ty Geertsen 10, Joel Chadwick 16

Kamil Bielica 7, Lukas Nowacki 13, Pawel Cegielski 7, Bartek Grabowski 18, Dawid Bas 9