Wednesday March 20, 2013
BIRMINGHAM edged to a less-than-convincing opening-night victory - with unfancied Belle Vue displaying clear signs of promise in several areas of their team.

Had it not been for the Aces sticking to their policy of giving each of their riders five outings, things could have been even more awkward for the Brummies who were consistently out-gated and trailed by four points with three heats to go after a series of crashes.

With the visitors so sharp from the start, plenty of fine racing resulted with overtaking in the opening race as Chris Harris overhauled Kevin Wolbert, although he couldn’t catch Ales Dryml who opened with successive wins.

Harris did notch his first success in Heat 6 with a spectacular swoop around Dryml and Artur Mroczka off the fourth bend, but by then Craig Cook had served notice that he had recovered from a first-ride last place - and he would dominate the middle part of the meeting.

Things began to go awry for the home side when Martin Smolinski fell in Heat 7 as he tried to round Magnus Zetterstrom – and it got far worse in the next race with Nico Covatti clipping team-mate Josh Auty as they chased the Aces duo, sending both riders piling into the fence.

With no injuries resulting, Brummies levelled in Heat 9 but then saw every move of Harris blocked by the experience of Zetterstrom as the Aces carded a Heat 10 5-1, and two more accidents followed.

Doyle suffered a heavy landing in Heat 11 when attempting to pass Wolbert, whilst Covatti made a spectacular exit from Heat 12 having clipped the fourth bend fence with his bike scattering debris down the home straight.

Harris and Doyle got the home side back on track with a 5-1 in Heat 13, and a rejuvenated Smolinski ended Cook’s winning run in the penultimate race to put them narrowly ahead.

Birmingham’s Heat 15 task was then made easier by the Aces’ nomination of the point-less Mroczka, and Harris made his best start of the night from the inside to head Zetterstrom, with Danny King’s third place adding the insurance.

Birmingham will know their gating must improve for the serious business of league competition, whilst Belle Vue will take plenty of quiet optimism from this display.

BIRMINGHAM 47: Chris Harris 12, Danny King 9+1, Ben Barker 8+1, Martin Smolinski 8, Jason Doyle 6+1, Nico Covatti 2+1, Josh Auty 2.

BELLE VUE 43: Craig Cook 11, Magnus Zetterstrom 10+2, Ales Dryml 10+1, Kevin Wolbert 7, Kauko Nieminen 5+2, Artur Mroczka 0, Matej Zagar R/R.

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