Four league points as Bandits sparkle against the Diamonds
Berwick Speedway enjoyed a successful weekend on the track by taking four Championship league points from their two meetings against Newcastle.
On Saturday the Bandits beat the Diamonds 57-32 at Shielfield to take all three points, and on Sunday, after a battling performance, they took the losing bonus point after going down to a narrow 47-43 defeat.
Co-promoter and team manager Scott Courtney was naturally delighted with the showing.
“Earlier in the season we raced Newcastle home and away in the Tyne-Tweed Trophy and we lost both meetings,” said Courtney.
“But in recent weeks we have shown an upturn in our form - that makes it four wins in a row at home in the league - and with a little bit of luck we might have got more than the losing bonus at Brough Park as well. Everyone is disappointed we did not win that meeting which is a measure of how far we have come as a team.”
The meetings marked the return of former Bandit Theo Pijper to the team. The Dutchman, who had been released by Redcar in midweek, was drafted in as a permanent replacement for Swede John Lindman, who had struggled to find the form many had hoped he was capable of in his debut season in the UK.
“I feel sorry for John,” said Courtney. “We wanted to give him a chance to find his feet, and in an ideal world that is what he would have got.
“We thought long and hard before making the decision, but it was felt Theo, coming in at reserve, would give the team a better balance. He last rode for us in 2016 when he was a heat leader, so we know what he is capable of.
“When Redcar decided to drop him from their line-up we had to move quickly and I am sure he will do the job we want him to do.”
Pijper scored four points in the home win over Newcastle and netted five paid six at Byker.
Ironically, the fixtures mean he now faces a quick return to face his former employers, with Berwick due to race at Redcar on Thursday - the teams will then meet in the return league clash at Shielfield on Saturday.
“It will be interesting,” said Pijper, “but it’s speedway and I just have to get on with it. I am grateful to Berwick for giving me the chance, I have a new engine and I am looking forward to the two meetings against the Bears.”
Berwick Bandits 57
Newcastle Diamonds 32
After a delayed start, due to the late arrival of Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Berwick made it four wins out of four in the league at home with a comfortable victory over Newcastle.
A 5-1 from Aaron Summers and Kevin Doolan in heat one set the tone for the night. The Aussie pair were both unbeaten in their first four races, producing three 5-1s for the team, and both went into heat 15 looking to record their first paid maximums of the season.
However, both were to emerge disappointed as the Diamonds’ most effective twosome, Tero Aarnio and guest Nico Covatti sped from the gates and took a 1-5 of their own to spoil their party.
That was the visitors’ only race advantage of the night, although they did have four heat winners, courtesy of Aarnio (twice), Covatti and Matty Wethers.
But with Ludvig Lindgren, Ashley Morris and Carl Wilkinson all having off nights, Newcastle just weren’t at the races.
Berwick, meanwhile, with Theo Pijper making his debut at reserve, looked a far more assured side, with five of their number taking the chequered flag.
Summers, with a daring pass of Aarnio in heat 13, and Doolan, were dominant up to heat 15.
Jye Etheridge, after a first race fall, recovered to go unbeaten thereafter and with a rejuvenated David Howe chipping in with three race wins, and Dany Gappmaier adding a paid double figure return at reserve, victory was always guaranteed.
Berwick: Summers 12+1, Doolan 10+2, Howe 10, Etheridge 8+1, Gappmaier 7+3, Jakobsen 6+1, Pijper 4.
Newcastle: Aarnio 11, Covatti 10+1, Wethers 8, Wilkinson 1+1, Morris 1, Lindgren 1, Rose rider/rep.
Newcastle Diamonds 47
Berwick Bandits 43
Berwick put up a spirited performance at Newcastle on Sunday, but ironically they were undone by three riders who had all struggled at Shielfield 24 hours earlier.
Ludvig Lindgren, Ashley Morris and Carl Wilkinson had only scored three (paid four) points between them on Saturday, but the following evening they contributed 32 (paid 35) of their team’s total at Brough Park.
And with guest Nico Covatti weighing in with three wins in his ten point return the Tynesiders were a completely different proposition.
But that’s not to say Berwick did not have their chances. They led 14-16 after heat four and 38-40 after heat 13.
In the main this was down to four race wins from Aaron Summers and what was an unexpected 1-5 from Jye Etheridge and Dany Gappmaier in heat 12, when they picked up their only points of the night.
Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen and Theo Pijper also both won their opening races, but unfortunately Bandits were unable to hang on for the victory.
Newcastle: Lindgren 15+1, Covatti 10, Wilkinson 9+1, Morris 8+1, Wethers 3+1, Aarnio 1, Rose - rider/rep.
Berwick: Summers 14, Jakobsen 9, Pijper 5+1, Howe 5+1, Doolan 5, Etheridge 3, Gappmaier 2+1.