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A dramatic night at Sandy Lane ended with Oxford just edging out the Belle Vue ‘ATPI’ Aces 46-44 after pushing the visitors into a last-heat decider in Crowley.

It has been 17 years since a Belle Vue team had travelled to Crowley, with many of Manchester’s finest only laying eyes on the track for the first time on Thursday.

Drama ensued from the start after Erik Riss took down Dan Bewley in Heat 1 after both lifted coming out of the second turn, with concerns for the GP star’s wrist in the aftermath.

But, true to form, he bouced right back to take the win in the restart, and so began a superb performance from the ATPI Aces that took them into the lead by 8 points.

A maximum advantage to Oxford in Heat 13 was immediately countered by Ben Cook and Connor Mountain in the penultimate race, leaving the result on a knife edge in Heat 15.

And though it was the Spires pair of Tungate and Harris who had the final word on the night, Belle Vue’s efforts in Manchester were enough to seal the aggregate 95-85 win.

Team boss Mark Lemon said: “Losing Brady Kurtz at the eleventh hour was a huge blow, especially with the recent form he has been in, so it did elevate the challenge a little bit.

“But I was incredibly proud of how the boys stepped up and compensated for his absence, particularly Connor Mountain; he rode a stormer of a meeting and really kept us in the hunt.

“It was for that reason I felt he deserved Heat 15 with Dan Bewley. There was a lot of pressure on Dan in such a crucial heat and he was still hurting from the Heat 1 incident Erik Riss.

“Of course we’re disappointed to slip up at the last hurdle, after leading for much of the night, but given this was the first time a lot of the boys had been to Oxford I couldn’t have asked for more.

“And we successfully defended our aggregate lead to take the bonus point which, come the business end of the season, could make the difference between being in the top four and not.”

The Belle Vue ‘ATPI’ Aces are back at home on Monday, May 27 for another Bank Holiday bash against the reigning Premiership champions Sheffield, tapes up at 12pm.

Belle Vue ‘ATPI’ Aces: Chris Harris 13+1, Rohan Tungate 10+2, Charles Wright 9, Erik Riss 4, Ashton Boughen 4, Maciej Janowski 3+2, Craig Cook 3

Oxford ‘OXS’ Spires: Dan Bewley 13+1, Connor Mountain 11, Jaimon Lidsey 9, Ben Cook 5+2, Norick Blodorn 4+1, Connor Bailey 2+1, Brady Kurtz R/R

Aggregate Score: Oxford 85-95 Belle Vue

Photo credit: Ian Charles


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