SWINDON ROBINS: Perfect timing for Stead
SIMON Stead gave a timely reminder of what he is really capable of as his 12-point maximum helped Swindon Robins ease into the Elite League grand final with a 55-37 victory over Birmingham.
The Robins went into last night’s semi-final second leg with a comfortable 20-point cushion, and they never looked like losing it as they cruised to three 5-1s in the opening four heats to win 110-72 on aggregate.
Stead won all four of his rides and looked more comfortable on the bike than he has in recent weeks, while every Robins rider apart from Troy Batchelor registered a heat victory in a confidence boosting night ahead of the first leg of the final against Poole on Monday.
Stead believes his first maximum of the season has come at the best possible time, and is already looking forward to the two-legged clash with the Pirates.
“It is nice to have turned things around at the right time, and we have changed a few things and made a massive step in the right direction,” he said.
“Monday at Birmingham was really difficult because I hadn’t been on a bike for nearly two weeks, and I felt 100 times better and I am full of confidence going into Monday.
“That is a massive meeting now for all of us, and we can’t wait to get started.”
The Robins wasted no time as Hans Andersen absolutely flew out of the gate to win heat one at a canter, and Nick Morris was close behind him to stretch the home lead at the earliest opportunity. Stead looked back to his best as he cut back in turn one of heat two to roar up the inside of all three riders and went on to take a superb victory as Dawid Lampart fell at the back.
It is almost becoming inevitable these days that Peter Kildemand and Jason Doyle will take a heat advantage from the third race of the night, and the duo were at it again thanks to two superb starts. Both Robins were electric from the gate again in heat four as Stead led Batchelor round for another 5-1, but Kildemand couldn’t quite pass Danny King in the next heat as the Brummies won their first race of the evening.
The visitors went on to produce the next two heat winners as Seb Ulamek and Ben Barker salvaged some pride for the Midlanders, but Stead put a stop to their success with a superb pass on King after Nicolas Covatti had hit the deck. Ulamek could only finish second behind a rampant Kildemand when on a tactical ride, before Morris and Andersen secured another 5-1 in heat 10 which mathematically ended the contest.
Another Brummies tactical ride came and went as Lampart and Batchelor beat King with ease, and after two restarts Stead got away well in the 12th race of the night to make it four wins on the trot for the Yorkshireman.
Andersen was excluded after going down easily under pressure from Ulamek, and Batchelor was all over the back wheel of the Pole in the re-run but just missed out on the line.
Doyle picked up his first win of the night by passing Barker in the penultimate race, before Ulamek won heat 15 to finish on 15 for the night.