PAUL Starke enjoyed a dream return to the skull and crossbones and Hans Andersen banked a full 12-point maximum as Pirates eased to a 52-40 success over strugglers Leicester.

Starke, who last rode for Poole in the title-winning season of 2015, showed the Wimborne Road faithful what they had been missing with an entertaining and fruitful all-round display.

Brought in last week after Kyle Newman had controversially been axed, Starke’s nine paid 10 haul would have delighted promoter Matt Ford, who took sizeable flak from some supporters over his decision to shuffle the pack.

Both teams were short of full-strength sides. Pirates were missing knee injury victim Nicolai Klindt so experienced Scunthorpe racer Carl Wilkinson took his place at reserve.

Starke made his second debut and Leicester’s Jason Garrity sat out proceedings due to injury, so rider replacement was operated.

Both Pirates got away sharply in the opener but while Jack Holder maintained his charge, number one Grzegorz Zengota faded to fourth by the back straight and was well out of contention come the chequered flag.

The hosts kept matters even in heat two although there was temporary concern when James Shanes, side by side with Wilkinson, appeared to be clinging on during turn three of lap one. However, he quickly recovered to finish second behind Leicester’s Josh Bates.

The Wimborne Road faithful were in raptures when Starke roared round Erik Riss into first on his opening ride while Brady Kurtz, who had been forced to battle from the back, so nearly made it a 5-1 on the line.

Poole were on a maximum when Danny Ayres fell during heat four but the Lions reserve was unable to clear the track and a re-run was ordered. The home side had to settle for a 4-2 at the second time of asking with Danny King rounding Shanes early on, but captain Andersen was long gone after the first turn.

Along came the first maximum in heat five and it was Pirates who got it. Kurtz and Starke both found a route past Kim Nilsson, with Starke superbly re-passing the Leicester spearhead after a mid-race mishap.

Bates nearly took his crash helmet off when he ploughed into the tapes next so Ayres took his place, the stand-in not experiencing better fortunes as he careered under the air fence.

King, now Lions’ sole representative, appeared to get away with a rolling start in attempt three, the Team GB star picking up a priceless win over Zengota and Holder.

But Andersen then easily prevented a second triumph in a row for King, taking the chequered flag in a shared heat seven, giving Pirates an eight-point lead.

Quickly all over Bates, Holder blasted round the boards on lap two to hit the front, while Shanes made a good attempt of chasing Riss for third, although he was unrewarded.

Poole were briefly on a maximum when the inspired Starke zoomed from fourth to second on turn two before being pegged back by King. Kurtz, who had passed King on the same bend, was comfortable in front.

An untidy start by an off-colour Lasse Bjerre allowed Zengota and Holder to earn Pirates a second maximum, with Bates nearly pipping the latter in the final yards.

Nilsson was put on a tactical by Lions team boss Jim Lynch but it was Riss who was a far more dangerous challenger to Andersen, the German only giving way to Nilsson in the closing stretch as Leicester grabbed their first heat advantage.

Starke was brilliant once more in heat 12 while Shanes got close to Bjerre without finding the route through he craved.

The gating gloves of Andersen once again did him proud in heat 13, the Dane bullying his way past King and Nilsson but Zengota appeared uncomfortable at the back.

Pirates sealed victory with a 5-1 in the penultimate outing, Kurtz making it three victories on the spin after inching past Bates on the back straight. To the delight of the home fans, Wilkinson then followed suit with an inside-lane pass of the Lions racer on the final lap.

Holder and Kurtz were chosen by Poole team boss Neil Middleditch for the nominated race and it proved an entertaining affair.

With Kurtz out of contention, it was left to his compatriot and close friend to hold on to top spot but first Riss and then King, in the final metres, ensured Lions banked a consolation 5-1.


Pirates 52: 1 Grzegorz Zengota (0-2-3-0) 5, 2 Jack Holder (3-1*-3-2*-1) 10+2, 3 Paul Starke (3-2*-1-3) 9+1, 4 Brady Kurtz (1-3-3-3-0) 10, 5 Hans Andersen (3-3-3-3) 12, 6 Carl Wilkinson, guest (1*-0-0-2*) 3+2, 7 James Shanes (2-1-0-0) 3.

Leicester 40: 1 Kim Nilsson (1*-1-4^-1*) 7+2, 2 Erik Riss (2-2-0-1*-1*-3) 9+2, 3 Jason Garrity r/r, 4 Lasse Bjerre  (0-1*-0-1*-0) 2+2, 5 Danny King (2-3-2-2-2-2*) 13+1, 6 Josh Bates (3-t-2-1-2-1) 9, 7 Danny Ayres (0-fx-fx-0) 0.

HT 1: Holder, Riss, Nilsson, Zengota, 60.69 (3-3)

HT 2: Bates, Shanes, Wilkinson, Ayres, 61.79 (6-6)

HT 3: Starke, Riss, Kurtz, Bjerre, 61.00 (10-8)

HT 4 (re-run): Andersen, King, Shanes, Ayres (fell/dsq), 60.66 (14-10)

HT 5: Kurtz, Starke, Nilsson, Riss, 60.78 (19-11)

HT 6 (re-run x2): King, Zengota, Holder, Ayres (fell/dsq), Bates (tapes), 60.59 (22-14)

HT 7: Andersen, King, Bjerre, Wilkinson, 61.19 (25-17)

HT 8: Holder, Bates, Riss, Shanes, 61.22 (28-20)

HT 9: Kurtz, King, Starke, Ayres, 60.40 (32-22)

HT 10: Zengota, Holder, Bates, Bjerre, 61.19 (37-23)

HT 11: Andersen, Nilsson (tactical), Riss, Wilkinson, 60.97 (40-28)

HT 12: Starke, Bates, Bjerre, Shanes, 61.62 (43-31)

HT 13: Andersen, King, Nilsson, Zengota, 61.66 (46-34)

HT 14: Kurtz, Wilkinson, Bates, Bjerre, 61.78 (51-35)

HT 15: Riss, King, Holder, Kurtz, 61.69 (52-40)


A PENNY for the thoughts of Pirates chief Matt Ford after Paul Starke’s impressive haul on his second debut for the club.

Ford has always made strong decisions when it comes to riders and, by virtue of Poole’s plentiful successes over the years, you have to say he has got most of them right.

Bringing in Starke for Kyle Newman was never going to go down well with some, but Starke’s opening gambit could heal some of the wounds created by Newman’s departure.