BELLE Vue bowed out of the Premiership Play Offs after one of the most epic battles of the 2023 season with Ipswich Witches, which saw them just miss out on qualification for the Grand Final.
The outgoing league champions had a mountain to climb after their 54-36 defeat at Foxhall last week, and early doors it looked as though the TruMix Witches would quickly finish the job.
But the resolve and the determination of the ATPI Aces was there for all to see and they refused to go down without a fight, quickly setting to work to recover a 22-point aggregate deficit.
It needed every man to come to the party to overturn the gap, and each one responded right when he needed to with every rider able to hold his head high for his efforts.
10 points was all that stood between both teams and qualification for the Grand final going into Heat 13, with Brady Kurtz and Dan Bewley teaming up to beat Jason Doyle and Emil Sayfutdinov.
Then, in the race of the night, Jaimon Lidsey and Norick Blodorn swooped to a second consecutive 5-1 to put the aggregate score at 86-88 in Ipswich’s favour with one race to go.
Heat 15 was far from decided when the tapes went up as, with each lap, a different rider emerged the leader but ultimately the aggregate result swung the way of the visitors.
A final 51-39 home win at the National Speedway Stadium saw the ATPI Aces close their season on a high, but being so close and yet so far was a painful reality for all the riders.
Club captain Kurtz said: “It’s hard to know what to say really. The damage was probably done at Ipswich last week but we never stopped believing that we could turn it around.
“To come as close as we did and trip at the final post is painful. Everybody worked so hard all night and I don’t think we could’ve given more than we did. We did our best.
“Congratulations to Ipswich on their progression to the final. We’re not ungracious in defeat, they were the better team over two legs and we wish them the best of luck.
“It’s not how we wanted our season to end, but there are positives to take from this meeting. We were 22 points down on aggregate at one point and we pulled it back to just 2 with one heat to go.
“Not many people thought we’d be able to do that. Charles [Wright] was a big miss, especially at Foxhall and if he had been there maybe things would’ve been closer.
“But there’s no sense in thinking of what could’ve been. We made the Play Offs, we battled our hardest and that’s all we could do in the end.
“We’d just like to thank all the supporters who turned out every week to cheer us on, it really has meant a lot to us and the atmosphere on Monday was amazing, so thank you all.”
The club will host our end-of-season party, The Maugers 2023, on Saturday, October 28th with further details on tickets to follow.
RESULT – BELLE VUE V IPSWICH – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 @ 7:30PM
Belle Vue ‘ATPI’ Aces 51: Jaimon Lidsey 11+1, Brady Kurtz 10+1, Dan Bewley 10+1, Norick Blodorn 10+1, Tom Brennan 7, Connor Bailey 3+2, Charles Wright r/r.
Ipswich ‘TruMix’ Witches 39: Emil Sayfutdinov 11, Jason Doyle 9+1, Danny King 8+1, Keynan Rew 7+1, Danyon Hume 2, Jack Smith 2, Erik Riss 0.
Aggregate Score: Belle Vue 87-93 Ipswich
Image: Ian Charles