Report courtesy of www.lakesidehammers.co.uk
ON a night of high tension, The Vortex Hammers kept their Play-Off hopes alive with a last heat decider and a 50-43 victory over The Poole Pirates.
The tone for the meeting was set in the very first heat, when after Piotr Swiderski was excluded for a tapes infringement, Hammers number one Peter Karlsson used his years of experience to hold off the fast charging Darcy Ward for all four laps.
This was quickly followed by another quality race in heat 2 with Richard Lawson and fellow Workington Comet Kyle Howarth both battling for the lead throughout, with The Hammers reserve claiming initial bragging rights. A shared third heat was followed by further drama in heat 4, when Vortex Hammer skipper Davey Watt went off 15 metres after missing the initial 2 minute warning.
Despite that handicap, the Aussie snatched third place from Poole reserve Micky Dyer, opening up a 6 point lead. for The Hammers. Poole reserve Howarth earned an exclusion in the next race, after charging hard into Hammers number 3 Lewis Bridger in turn one.
Heat 6 saw the Hammers extend their lead further with a 4-2 from Karlsson and Lawson, before the Pirates hit back with two consecutive 4-2 heat victories. With Swiderski and Bridger delivering their own heat victory, a 6 point lead was restored, before Karlsson again turned on the style in heat 10, hunting down and passing the evergreen Greg Hancock to team up with team mate Watt for a 5-1 to The Hammers.
This joy was shortlived however, as this result enabled the visitors from Dorset to nominate Ward for a tactical in heat 11, which culminated in a great battle between the two captains, with Ward taking maximum points and Howarth third to reduce the lead back to 5 points.
This scoreline remained after the next heat, thanks to a fantastic ride from Bridger who hunted down and passed the busy Howarth on the fourth bend of the last lap to take a shared heat.
The Pirates then hit back again with Ward gaining revenge of Karlssons early victory, backed by a third place from Pirates guest Adam Skornicki. The drama continued in the penultimate heat after Howarth, already off 15 metres was black-flagged for jumping the start, but not before he had brought down team mate Lahti on the fourth bend of the third lap. The resulting 5-1 gave the Hammers victory on the night, but only a 7 point lead going into the last heat leaving a chance for the Pirates to snatch a point.
When Ward and Hancock gated, an away point looked to be heading to Dorset, but a brilliant move which saw both Swiderski and Karlsson both pass the former World Champion, meant that the resulting shared heat delivered the maximum league points to the Hammers.