A HAT-TRICK of maximums proved Poole Pirates are in this Elite League title race for the long haul, eventually seeing off the stubborn resistance of play-off rivals Lakeside.
Seven race winners from the first 11 heats had kept the visitors in contention for a rare away win but Hammers just couldn’t contain the unstoppable hosts in the final straight as a slender two-point lead was transformed into a handsome 53-37 success.
Pirates may not have hit their purple patch until late in the day but the pressure was building all night as Lakeside’s heat winners were made to cling on desperately with the hosts constantly in the hunt.
Free spirit Vaclav Milik set the tone following a sluggish start and bagged a pair of race wins alongside the consistent Maciej Janowski who finished in the top two of each of his races.
Strong gating from guest Rory Schlein and reserve Adam Ellis disrupted Poole’s flow but in the end, Lakeside couldn’t match the home side’s pace on a night where smart movement, teamwork and overtaking featured prominently.
Richard Lawson, who racked up 13 points on his last visit to Wimborne Road in May, gated ahead of Josh Grajczonek while backmarker Darcy Ward recovered to take second but couldn’t pass his rival in a shared opener.
Ellis gained an early advantage from the inside gate in the first reserve heat, holding off tremendous pressure from Kyle Newman with Benji Compton bringing up the rear.
In a nip-and-tuck start to heat three, Maciej Janowski almost leapt from third to first but the Pole was edged out by Lewis Bridger who set personal-best time at Wimborne Road this season. Shamek Pawlicki took third to share the spoils.
Despite the strap on his goggles disintegrating on his way round, Milik’s sheer tenacity stole heat four from long-time leader Lawson on the final lap but Compton’s retirement ensured the prize was split again.
But Milik’s magic stirred something in the Pirates’ pits and despite Bridger making a stellar start to heat five, Ward and Janowski hunted down their opponent like men possessed.
The Aussie finally claimed the lead on the final lap before Janowski took second by the narrowest of margins on the line, much like Milik had done the race before.
It was a good thing they did as Hammers hit straight back with their own maximum to edge in front by two, Schlein leading Davey Watt home in a race that was never in doubt.
However, Grajczonek’s perfect gate with Newman steaming round the outside threatened to swing the pendulum once more but Poole’s reserve was overhauled by Kim Nilsson and the hosts had to make do with parity.
But there was more to come and Poole hit the front when Pawlicki and Milik teamed up to tear from back to front, opening up a four-point advantage.
The second reserve heat saw Ellis steal a march on Newman but Morley’s retirement handed Compton his only point of the night.
Bridger just made the two-minute call in heat 10, cutting across the green to make the line on Lawson’s bike but his efforts were in vain as he retired on the last lap.
The points were shared as Schlein held his ground despite the persistent presence of Ward who even attempted a last-ditch wheelie to cross the line first.
Watt forced wide Pawlicki on the first turn of heat 11, scuppering his hopes of any score as Nilsson surprisingly hit the front and Lakeside halved the deficit.
Nerves were starting to jangle but a mechanical fault saw Lawson stall the start of heat 12 with Newman and Grajczonek taking full advantage to edge ever-closer to three precious points.
Heat 13 gripped the entire crowd as positions changed regularly throughout the opening two laps but Janowski emerged with the lead before talisman Ward seized the initiative from the back, passing fellow Aussie Watt before blitzing Schlein towards the end of the third circuit.
Punch-drunk Lakeside were on the ropes and it was that man Milik who captivated the crowd again, flying away from everyone having hit the front from the gate.
Newman held firm ahead of Nilsson for a third straight maximum and the contest was over before the final heat.
Janowski won the academic final showdown with the busy Milik buzzing all over Bridger. The Czech didn’t quite get his man for a second time but he had done enough and so had Poole.
RIDER SCORES AND HEAT DETAILS
Pirates 53: 1 Darcy Ward (2-3-2-2*) 9+1, 2 Josh Grajczonek (1*-3-1*-2*) 7+3, 3 Shamek Pawlicki (1*-0-3-0) 4+1, 4 Vaclav Milik (3-1-2*-3-1) 10+1, 5 Maciej Janowski (2-2*-2-3-3) 12+1, 6 Benji Compton (0-r-1*) 1+1, 7 Kyle Newman (2-1-2-3-2*) 10+1. Team manager: Neil Middleditch.
Lakeside 37: 1 Davey Watt (0-2*-1-0) 3+1, 2 Richard Lawson (3-2-0-r) 5, 3 Lewis Bridger (3-1-1-r-2) 7, 4 Kim Nilsson (0-2-3-1) 6, 5 Rory Schein (0-3-3-1-r) 7, 6 Adam Ellis (3-0-3-1-0) 7, 7 Ben Morley (1-1*-r) 2+1. Team manager: Neil Vatcher.
Ht 1: Lawson, Ward, Grajczonek, Watt 60.37 (2-4)
Ht 2: Ellis, Newman, Morley, Compton 62.03 (5-7)
Ht 3: Bridger, Janowski, Pawlicki, Schlein 60.66 (8-10)
Ht 4: Milik, Lawson, Morley, Compton (retired) 61.00 (11-13)
Ht 5: Ward, Janowski, Bridger, Nilsson 60.34 (16-14)
Ht 6: Schlein, Watt, Milik, Pawlicki 60.53 (17-19)
Ht 7: Grajczonek, Nilsson, Newman, Ellis 61.22 (21-21)
Ht 8: Pawlicki, Milik, Bridger, Lawson 60.41 (26-22)
Ht 9: Ellis, Newman, Compton, Morley (retired) 61.84 (29-25)
Ht 10: Schlein, Ward, Grajczonek, Bridger (retired) 60.87 (32-28)
Ht 11: Nilsson, Janowski, Watt, Pawlicki 60.47 (34-32)
Ht 12: Newman, Grajczonek, Ellis, Lawson (retired) 61.66 (39-33)
Ht 13: Janowski, Ward, Schlein, Watt 60.53 (44-34)
Ht 14: Milik, Newman, Nilsson, Ellis 61.59 (49-35)
Ht 15: Janowski, Bridger, Milik, Schlein (retired) 60.85 (53-37)
League points: Poole Pirates 3 Lakeside Hammers 0.
Star rider - Vaclav Milik
The start hardly went to plan for Pirates but as always, the inspirational Czech was undeterred.
Milik was left alone in his opening heat but despite the imminent downfall of his facemask, his never-say-die attitude stole heat four at the last.
Following that rousing display, the determination was catching. Darcy Ward found another gear while Kyle Newman bounced back as Poole kept pace with a resolute Lakeside outfit.
Beating heat leader Lewis Bridger to second in the eighth bagged the crucial maximum which helped stamp the hosts’ authority on proceedings before sealing the deal with a runaway win in the penultimate showdown.
A natural racer whose bravery knows no limits. Will undoubtedly carry Poole's title fight right to the end.