Have the stars finally aligned for King’s Lynn? Writes Phil Lanning
It is simply astonishing that this great stalwart club of British speedway has never won the top flight league championship.
But in 2018, they will never get a better chance.
There’s little doubt the Tru Plant Stars management will cover their faces when reading this, they will not wish to tempt fate…
It is mission accomplished thus far. Finishing top of the league is great but means nothing apart from extra pain if they should not manage to walk away with the trophy midway through October.
Next up it’s to Belle Vue in the first leg of the semi-final on September 24 and back at the Adrian Flux Arena a week later.
On paper it looks like a King’s Lynn versus Somerset final. Both sides have comfortably outwitted their semi-final opponents in league meetings so far this season.
However, we all know that it doesn’t pay to be a prophet in sport.
It has been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Stars management. But if you are defined by your signings, they could well be in pole position.
The acquisitions of Michael Palm Toft and Erik Riss have been right out of the top drawer during the campaign.
That has nullified the dreadful loss of trump card Lewis Kerr to a badly broken leg in June.
Robert Lambert has been a sublime No.1 home and away, while Niels-Kristian Iversen is gradually returning to his elegant and formidable best.
Thomas Jorgensen was a shock early signing before the end of last season, which raised an awful lot of eyebrows. But he has done his engine room job in fine style.
Likewise Ty Proctor has been a very shrewd bit of business. A fiery and fiercely passionate Aussie full of grit and determination. He will return from injury for the play-offs.
But mid-season signings Palm Toft and Riss are the key men. Palm Toft is an absolute gem to have at reserve, nine or 10 points from him over the play-off clashes and King’s Lynn will be league champions.
However Riss, for me, is the real deal.
This focused German does not accept second place.
He is potentially a rider who will back-up Lambert and Iversen with big points.
If he can do that, then Lynn will finally land the big one.
It’s written in the Stars…
Lynn clinch top spot in hectic week
It was a very busy but ultimately successful week for the King’s Lynn Stars with four meetings in three days, writes Chris Milsom.
On Monday a fantastic comeback victory at Wolverhampton saw the Tru Plant Stars collect three crucial points, winning 47-43 despite trailling by 10 points after six heats. Captain Robert Lambert (13+1) and Niels-Kristian Iversen (13) were the top scorers.
It was a quick turnaround as they hit the road again to Somerset on Tuesday, without Iversen, due to Swedish League commitments, and the injured Ty Proctor.
Lynn were brought down to earth with a heavy bump as the Rebels stormed to a 61-29 victory. Lambert top scored again with 9+2, despite suffering a broken bike frame. Riss blew an engine and the Stars suffered various other mechanical gremlins.
It was all eyes on the Adrian Flux Arena on Wednesday as the Stars entertained Leicester Lions in a double header.
Lambert helped himself to 12+2 from five rides in the opening 56-34 win, backed up by solid performances from Michael Palm Toft (9+2) Erik Riss (9) and guest Adam Ellis (9).
The hosts carried that fine form into the second meeting with an even more emphatic 60-30 triumph to clinch top spot in the Premiership table.
Ellis again proved to be a good choice of guest, helping himself to 11, backed up superbly by captain Lambert’s 11+3.
Stars at Wolves: R Lambert 13+1, Riss 7+1, Proctor 0 withdrawn, Jorgensen 4+1, Iversen 13, Palm Toft 7+2, S Lambert 3.
Stars at Somerset: R Lambert 9+2, Riss 4, Proctor rider replacement, Jorgensen 1+1, Klindt (guest) 7, Palm Toft 8, S Lambert 0.
Stars v Leicester 1: R Lambert 12+2, Riss 9, Ellis (guest) 9, Jorgensen 8+1, Iversen 7, Palm Toft 9+2, S Lambert 2+1.
Stars v Leicester 2: R Lambert 11+3, Riss 8, Ellis (guest) 11, Jorgensen 7+4, Iversen 9, Palm Toft 8+2, S Lambert 6+1.
‘We’ve won nothing yet’ – boss Allitt
King’s Lynn remain on target for a league and cup double.
Dale Allitt’s league leaders head to Swindon on Monday for the first leg of their Knockout Cup semi-final with the home leg taking place the following Monday.
It means there are potentially four more meetings at the Adrian Flux Arena this season – two in the play-offs and two in the Knockout Cup.
Team manager Dale Allitt said: “We have to try to keep our feet on the ground because there is no prize for finishing top of the table. We’ve won nothing yet.
“Quite simply, we have to continue to apply ourselves and focus on the task in hand but yes, of course, it would be great to win a league and cup double.
“I’m so pleased with this group of riders and what we have achieved so far, but we have to keep it going.
“Swindon will be smarting from the fact that they haven’t qualified for the play-offs and they’ll be doubling their efforts to make it to the cup final.”
Premiership table (not including last night’s Swindon v Belle Vue match)
King’s Lynn 24 16 1 7 1128 1032 53
Somerset 24 13 1 10 1103 1045 47
Poole 24 12 1 11 1114 1019 44
Belle Vue 23 12 0 11 1062 1007 40
Swindon 23 11 0 12 1026 1042 35
Wolves 24 10 1 13 1043 1117 34
Leicester 24 7 0 17 955 1169 23
Rye House – record expunged.
Monday, September 17
Semi-final 1, 1st leg: Somerset Rebels v Poole Pirates
Monday, September 24
Semi-final 2, 1st leg: Belle Vue Aces v King’s Lynn Stars
Monday, October 1
Semi-finals, 2nd leg: Poole Pirates v Somerset Rebels, King’s Lynn Stars v Belle Vue Aces
Monday, October 8
Final, 1st leg: Poole or Somerset v King’s Lynn or Belle Vue
Wednesday, October 10
Final, 2nd leg: King’s Lynn or Belle Vue v Poole or Somerset.