Speedway: Bandits dedicate last heat victory to Ashworth

Bandits team manager Ian Rae
Bandits team manager Ian Rae

Berwick New Holland Bandits 46 Edinburgh Scotwaste Monarchs 44

Premier League

TWENTY FOUR hours previous Berwick Bandits lost their number one rider Ricky Ashworth in a major crash, which confined him to a hospital bed, but the show had to go on.

On Saturday night the Bandits’ welcomed the Edinburgh Monarchs in what was always going to be a tough match, but with renewed determination they went into the match keen to get a result for their stricken colleague.

Team manager Ian Rae said: “We spoke to the lads after the Scunthorpe match and they wanted to race tonight and dedicate their performances to Ricky. And what a performance it was!”

Craig Cook made a stunning gate in Heat One to take a solid three points despite David Bellego catching him up throughout the race in he eventual 3-3, but a huge win by Paul Starke in Heat Two coupled with a battling third from Nicki Barrett who took the point from Mitchell Davey the 4-2 put Berwick 7-5 up.

A broken chain for the leading Matthew Wethers caused the Bandit to come to a sudden halt on the last lap allowing Jozsef Tabaka and Theo Pijper through to take a full visitors’ maximum 1-5 to leapfrog the Monarchs in to the lead 8-10.

Claus Vissing made easy work of the gate in Heat four, but Smith behind roared back from last to pass Sneddon off bend two and almost took the three points, just missing out on passing Vissing on the run to the finish line in an Edinburgh Monarchs 2-4, pushing their advantage to 10-14.

The fast Cook took Heat Five with consummate ease and again a 4-2 was recorded with Max Fricke taking third to extend the Monarchs’ lead to 12-18, before both Wethers and Bellego shot round either side of Vissing off bend two in Heat Six to briefly form a Bandit’s 5-1, but flying down the back straight Vissing came back under Wethers for a home 4-2 narrowing the gap to 16-20.

Following a shared Heat Seven Bellego had Heat Eight comfortably in his grasp for three points but at the back Starke fell on the third bend of the second lap to stop the race which was awarded a 3-3 taking the score to 22-26, but thankfully Starke got to his feet and was perfectly ok.

Vissing stood no chance in Heat Nine as Aspegren and Wethers dominated from the gate for a Berwick maximum to level the match 27-27 - followed by a second place for Aspegren behind a Bellego win as the Bandit road a brilliant outside pass round Tabaka to take another home maximum to take the score to 32-28 and put the Bandits back into the lead.

Two magnificent races took place in Heat 11 with Smith holding off a bristling Cook behind as Barrett did likewise behind ahead of Fricke in a home 4-2 widening the gap to six, with Aspegren and Pijper enjoying a fine ding-dong all through Heat 12 behind Sneddon which ended an away 2-4 and the match was still on a knife-edge 38-34.

Bellego and Smith blocked Vissing from the gate in Heat 13 and just let Cook go to make sure that only a share of the spoils could be got, and the 3-3 took the score to 41-37, whilst an engine failure for Barrett in Heat 14, won well by Tabaka over Wethers meant going into the final race the score was 43-41.

Smith and Bellego took on Cook and Tabaka in the deciding race with the Bandits’ pairing squeezing Tabaka to third with Cook unexpectedly not on song, but an error from Smith on the second lap allowed Cook through to draw the race and give the Bandits a narrow win 46-44.

“Ricky will be very proud of his lads once he comes round and catches up on events, very proud indeed, as we all were of them tonight,” added Rae.