A LOT can change in a week – and so this proved for Swindon Robins as they slipped to a 51-39 loss against Poole Pirates at a dustbowl Wimborne Road in the SGB Premiership.

A perfectly prepared National Speedway Stadium that offered edge-of-your-seat racing in Manchester seven days ago couldn’t be further from what was served up on the south coast this afternoon.

For the second successive meeting in Dorset, Alun Rossiter’s Robins were greeted by woefully dangerous track conditions that denied a typically large bank holiday crowd any value for money.

The dust returned, and so did the ruts – notice the plural.

It took just three heats for the meeting’s first major incident.

Tobiasz Musielak, returning to action a week after dislocating his shoulder, was simply a passenger as his bike careered into the turn four air fence – prompting his withdrawal from the meeting.

Jason Doyle – unbeaten in his two opening rides – then fell victim to conditions when parting with his machine on turn four in heat nine. He was winded, but okay.

In other heats, Adam Ellis counted himself fortunate when staying upright in heat three. Troy Batchelor meanwhile saw little point in continuing his chase in heat four after almost collecting Richard Lawson’s back-wheel in a hairy heat four.

Ellis Perks and Richard Lawson also tangled in a heavy first-bend crash in heat 11 – the re-run saw Zach Wajtknecht hopelessly lose control of his machine after hitting a hole in turn three.

Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen was also a passenger in heat 12 when – unable to turn – he sent the bike into the turn three fence. Ellis Perks suffered a similar fall two heats later.

It’s been just over a week since world champion Tai Woffinden – who bases himself in England – pointed the finger towards poor track conditions as one of the key reasons behind his absence in British speedway.

And that trend looks set to continue after this afternoon’s events in Dorset.

If there was a bright spark from this afternoon, it was the never say die attitude display by new recruit Ellis Perks.

Unphased by the conditions, Perks clocked five points from his rides - but certainly gave the effort required in all of his rides. Improvement is inevitable. 

To say the track was below-par in the opening heats would be an understatement.

After Doyle’s comfortable tapes-to-flag win in heat one, Pirates recorded a fortuitous 5-1 in heat two after Perks – on his Robins debut – hit a hole on turn three, relegating him to third.

Musielak’s swift return to racing after dislocating his shoulder a week earlier was short-lived. He spectacularly crashed into the turn four air fence after hitting the same hole that spat Perks wide in the earlier heat.

Batchelor was lucky to avoid wiping out Pirates guest Lawson in heat four – the Aussie lost control of his machine after hitting a rut while second, which gifted the hosts a 4-2 as Perks ran a second.

Two track breaks sandwiched the meeting’s sorry start, with the hosts leading 17-7.

That 10-point was stretched further in the next block of three heats.

Doyle continued his unbeaten run by claiming heat five, but a Pirates 4-2 in heat six paved the way for a 27-15 lead after seven races – with Ellis notching a deserved heat win in race seven.

A fifth Pirates race advantage of the afternoon for Pirates in heat eight added to Robins’ woes – who by now were 14 points behind.

It took over an hour for the next three heats to be completed, and Swindon’s luck failed to shift in that period.

Doyle’s fall in heat nine was followed by another win for Batchelor, before Pirates’ third 5-1 of the afternoon in heat 10 stretched their lead to 18 points.

An ugly crash for Perks and Lawson and in heat 11 provided the meeting’s latest delay. The re-run saw Wajtknecht – who replaced Perks – fall after hitting a hole on turn three. Another delay.

A sensational ride by Doyle in the re-run rescued a 3-3 for Swindon. But by this moment, the meeting’s credibility had long been lost.

Another delay resulted from heat 12. Ellis and Jakobsen raced wheel-to-wheel entering turn three – the latter unable to turn his bike due to the woeful conditions, and was excluded.

The red lights came on once more in the heat’s second staging – Klindt hitting the tapes.

Ellis won the re-run, in exceptionally dusty conditions.

Doyle and Batchelor teamed up for a Robins 5-1 in heat 13, before Perks slid off on turn three in heat 14 to end any outside hopes of the visitors poaching a point – Grajczonek won the re-run.

The meeting’s concluding race went the way of the Robins, with Batchelor leading home Holder and Ellis as Pirates won 51-39.