BELLE Vue finally put Sheffield to the sword in a tense, dramatic and thoroughly entertaining night with a 52-38 win at the National Speedway Stadium, while also collecting the aggregate bonus point.
The ATPI Aces had been dealt three defeats this season by the TruPlant Tigers prior to tapes up, and they were determined to ensure they did not produce a fourth with mere weeks to the Play Offs.
It was a close beginning to the night in front of a packed crowd and the Eurosport cameras as the visitors looked to pick up where they left off with a 4-2 in Heat 1 giving them the early lead.
The home team responded in the following race in similar fashion to level the score before taking the lead themselves, with just two points the difference after five heats.
But Sheffield were far from beaten as new signing Tai Woffinden and Lewis Kerr teamed up in Heat 6 and produced the first 5-1 of the night in favour of the Tigers.
But just when they looked to be taking a foothold, Tom Brennan and Connor Bailey came to the party with their own maximum in Heat 8 to level the scores at 24 apiece at the half-way stage.
The latter half of the meeting saw a reinvigorated ATPI Aces septet ready for battle, and of the seven heats remaining them delivered five heat advantages.
Drama ensued in Heat 13 when, after the home team gated on a 5-1, Woffinden fell on the first turn and the referee recalled all four riders to the tapes, much to the chagrin of the fans.
But Mark Lemon’s side did not falter, and a crucial 4-2 from Norick Blodorn and Charles Wright in Heat 14 paved the way not only for the win on the night but also a shot at the aggregate bonus.
And Dan Bewley and Jaimon Lidsey were the ones sent to do battle one more time against Woffinden and Tobiasz Musielak, and with the crowd cheering them home they obliged with a 5-1.
Lidsey top scored for the home team with a near flawless 13+1 while Dan Bewley surged back to form with 12+1 and Rising Star Connor Bailey had his best Premiership night so far with 7+2.
Lidsey said: “It feels good to say we finally beat them! Three times this year they’ve defeated us so this result was long overdue and it was great to do it on home shale.
“We expected the match we got. Sheffield are a strong side and at one point they were winning the meeting so we knew we needed to do something to avoid losing a fourth time.
“At the half-way point, we got together and discussed what was going on. The track was quite different after the weekend’s events but we managed to adapt and came on strong at the end.
“It’s a huge weight off our shoulders because this just proves we can produce a big result when it counts, and we not only won on the night but we managed to fight back and get the bonus too.”
The ATPI Aces take a break from racing as Belle Vue Speedway gears up for the 2023 Sports Insure British Final on Monday, August 14 at 7:30pm at the National Speedway Stadium.
Meeting tickets, race day programmes, hospitality and south stand parking are available to pre-book online at bellevue-speedway.com/events.
RESULT – BELLE VUE V SHEFFIELD – MONDAY, AUGUST 7 @ 7:30PM [P2]
Belle Vue ‘ATPI’ Aces 52: Jaimon Lidsey 13+1, Dan Bewley 12+1, Connor Bailey 7+2, Brady Kurtz 7, Tom Brennan 5+1, Charles Wright 4, Norick Blodorn 4
Sheffield ‘TruPlant’ Tigers 38: Tai Woffinden 10+1, Tobias Musielak 10, Adam Ellis 6, Lewis Kerr 5, Kyle Howarth 4+2, Josh Pickering 3, Dan Gilkes 0
Belle Vue win 92-88 on aggregate
Image: Ian Charles