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TAPES-UP: Swindon Robins trio miss out on GP series
SWINDON trio Hans Andersen, Troy Batchelor and Peter Kildemand will all have to wait another year to fulfil their Grand Prix dreams after missing out on a top-three place in Saturday’s Challenge.
Australian Batchelor put up the biggest fight as he finished sixth on nine points behind eventual qualifiers Niels-Kristian Iversen, Krzysztof Kasprzak and Kenneth Bjerre, but was left to count the cost of running a last in his opening ride as fell short by two points.
Andersen was unfortunate to be drawn in the barren gate four for two of his five rides as he finished one seven, and Kildemand hit the fence twice as he ended a disastrous evening without a point to his name.
Iversen was able to glide through the meeting to secure his qualification with wins in his opening four rides before himself eventually falling victim to the curse of gate four, and from the very start of the meeting Kasprzak and Bjerre looked capable of sealing their GP returns as they ended on 12 and 11 respectively.
With Dane Iversen looking almost certain to secure his 2014 spot through finishing in the top eight of the main series his Challenge victory is likely to prove nothing more than insurance, which opened put extra significance on fourth spot at Wimborne Road as the rest of the field sensed their chance.
British wild card Danny King looked in contention throughout before he fell away along with Maciej Janowski and Michael Jepsen Jensen, but his fellow Birmingham rider Chris Harris took the challenge for fourth right to the wire as he ended the night on 10 alongside German rider, and another Brummie, Martin Smolinski.
With the Wimborne Road crowd hoping for a run-off nothing was forthcoming, and after the German was confirmed in fourth by virtue of having more heat wins he was quick to celebrate with his army of fans on bend two as he realised he is likely to become his nation’s first ever Grand Prix regular.
With all 16 riders sensing their chance to join the sport’s elite, Kildemand’s night started in the worst possible way as he fell in the first corner of a re-run heat one after running out of room.
With no red lights coming on the Dane gestured his unhappiness at the referee, and after picking himself up and finishing the race he was unable to get within 50 metres of the rest of the field.
Robins teammates Andersen and Batchelor met in their first heat with the Swindon skipper finishing second and Batchelor marooned out the back behind Bjerre, before Iversen and Smolinski got their night underway with victories.
King and Harris earned wins in the second round of races alongside Iversen, with Andersen and Kildemand both running lasts while Batchelor had to settle for second in his second ride after being passed by eventual heat eight winner Jepsen Jensen.
Another second for Andersen was followed by a superb victory over Kasprzak, King and Smolinski for Batchelor which kept him in the meeting, but despite fighting hard and being in the mix for victory in heat 12 Kildemand slipped up in the final corner and eventually finished at the back.
Batchelor’s fourth ride only garnered one point as he was beaten away from the tapes by Piotr Pawlicki and Tomas H Jonasson, but Andersen was able to breath life into his struggling bid as he held off Harris superbly after Kildemand crashed out the original staging of heat 16.
Australian Batchelor gave himself a chance by beating Harris and the previously perfect Iversen away from the tapes to earn three points from his final ride, but last place from Andersen in the next race off troublesome gate four ended his chance of making a return to the Grand Prix stage as Kasprzak won heat 19 to seal his spot.
Kildemand’s night ended in fitting fashion as he retired from the final heat, and with Smolinski only managing second Bjerre was left to celebrate as he returned to the sport’s elite.
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