Saturday 21 July, 2012
STOKE Easy Rifer Potters surrendered their one hundred per cent home league record as they went down to a 43-47 defeat against National League leaders Dudley Heathens at Loomer Road on Saturday night.

The evening started well with Ashley Birks defeating Dudley's Tom Perry to become the new holder of the Bronze Helmet.

The league fixture opened with a couple of drawn heats before the Heathens took the lead with a 5-1 from Tom Perry and Steve Worrall over Tony Atkin and Ross Walter. The Potters though were quickly on level terms as Ashley Birks and Ben Reade returned the compliment in the next race over Dan Greenwood after Byron Bekker had been disqualified for falling to level the scores up at twelve all after four heats.

Dudley edged back in front with a 4-2 from Worrall and James White Williams over Atkin to lead 14-16 and that's the way it stayed with a couple of drawn heats with Stoke number one Simon Lambert taking victory in heat six Adam Wrathall taking a tumble when third and then Ben Reade getting the better of Tom Perry in heat seven in one of the races of the season to leave the Heathens 20-22 in front at the midway point of the meeting. Reade had replaced Ashley Birks in heat seven after Birks had been taken ill in the pits with food poisoning leaving the Potters with an uphill struggle for the remainder of the meeting.

Reade and Wrathall pulled the Potters level with a 4-2 over Greenwood in heat eight but the Heathens regained the lead in the next race with Darryl Ritchings and Byron Bekker gaining a maximum 5-1 over Atkin to open up a four point lead. The Heathens extended their lead in heat eleven as Worrall and White williams gained a 4-2 over Reade and Jack Kingston to open up a six point lead.

Perry took victory from Reade in heat twelve with the pair swapping the lead several times over the first three laps before the Heathen pulled away on the final lap as the teams produced some superb racing.

Stoke were not finished though with drama in heat thirteen. Simon Lambert took a comfortable victory after Steve Worrall had fallen allowing his partner Bekker to go through along with Potters youngster and debutant Jack Kingston, Worrall remounted and failed to gain third place from Kingston while Bekker who was second was slowing with bike problems as he just edged home for second place for a Potters 4-2 leaving Stoke a glimmer of hope of getting back into the meeting.

Reade took a dramatic victory in heat fourteen as Perry suffered an engine problem coming out of the final turn, Perry taking second ahead of partner Greenwood leaving the Potters needing a 5-1 in the final heat to draw.

Steve Worrall took victory in the final heat over Lambert with Atkin taking third for a drawn heat after Perry looped at the starting gate thankfully walking off the track for a drawn heat at a 43-47 victory for the Heathens.

Easy Rider Potters number one Simon Lambert said "It was disappointing to lose tonight but after losing Ashley (Birks) it was always going to be difficult. We did well to keep the score as close as it was and we now have to put that behind us and look forward to the next meeting. At the end of the day it is about finishing in the top four of the league and making the play offs and that is our objective. I'm pleased with my own form and have to say there was some really good racing out there tonight and I really enjoyed myself. The races against Tom and Steve were absolutely top drawer to be in with us all leaving enough room for each other to race and I really hope the crowd were entertained tonight."

Dudley Heathens coach Jan O'Pedersen commented "I'm really pleased we got the three points but slightly disappointed we did not take all four points once Stoke had lost Ashley (Birks) but I suppose I'm being a little greedy. It was a solid performance from the team and it was pleasing to see all the riders chipping in with vital points. We said to the lads at the start of the meeting the key is not to run to many last places and we did not run to many of them, At the start of the meeting we'd have taken a point because Stoke are a very good team and I'm delighted we've managed to keep our unbeaten run going."

STOKE 43: Ben Reade 17+1, Simon Lambert 14, Tony Atkin 6+2, Ashley Birks 3, Jack Kingston 2+1, Adam Wrathall 1, Ross Walter 0.
DUDLEY 47: Steve Worrall 13+1, Tom Perry 12, Darryl Ritchings 8+2, Byron Bekker 7+2, Dan Greenwood 4+1, James White-Williams 3+1, Ashley Morris R/R