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Aces clip Robins wings
Tuesday 10th July 2018 @ 10:21 by Lee Wild

Belle Vue skipper Max Fricke produced a fabulous display as the Aces swept aside reigning league champions, and current league leaders, Swindon, 55-35 at the National Speedway Stadium on Monday.

The Aces captain was outpaced by Swindon top-scorer Troy Batchelor in his first ride, but recovered to go unbeaten in his remaining four races, often coming through from the back in breathtaking fashion on his way to a 13+1 score.

Belle Vue were forced to go into the meeting operating the Rider Replacement facility for Droylsden rider Jason Garrity, who failed a late fitness-test with a hand injury, but young Polish reserve Damian Drozdz got the Aces off to a flying start as he covered Garrity’s first ride in heat 1, winning from the gate with teammate Craig Cook coming from the back to take third place.

And Drozdz made it two out of two when he also won heat 2, followed home by Jye Etheridge for a maximum heat win to put the Aces 9-3 ahead.

Frenchman David Bellego became Swindon’s first heat winner in the third race, cheered on by friend and fellow-countryman Aymeric Laporte – Manchester City’s record-breaking £57m defensive signing – who had travelled across town from the Etihad to watch the racing.

A win for Dan Bewley in heat 5 was cancelled out by a second win for fast-starting visitor Troy Batchelor in the next, but the Aces started to increase their lead approaching the half-way stage.

Fricke was a comfortable winner of heat 7 with Etheridge in third after a battle with Bellego.

And Etheridge teamed up for a 5-1 maximum with the lively Drozdz in the next after both overhauled Swindon’s Zach Wajtknecht to move Belle Vue 10 ahead.

That triggered a Tactical Substitution from the visitors, but the move failed, as replacement Bellego was kept to the back by Bewley and Rohan Tungate, despite Batchelor winning the race.

Swindon were given some hope when Nick Morris and Adam Ellis gated on a 5-1 in heat 11, but Fricke rode the race of the night to split the pair and take a stunning win.

Fricke gave another masterful display to come from the back in heat 13 where he joined Craig Cook for a maximum win, which sealed the match at 46-32 with two races to go.

But the Aces still weren’t finished. Tungate found some grip coming of the final turn to win the penultimate heat in a thrilling finish, and he then teamed up with Fricke to wrap up the match with a 5-1 heat victory in the nominated race after the pair had diced with Bellego and Batchelor for two laps before moving clear.

Another boost for the Aces came after the match when Steve Worrall came out for some practice laps, leading to speculation that he could be about to return to the Aces side after two months out with a broken leg.

Monday’s Aces scorers: Max Fricke 13+1, Dan Bewley 10, Rohan Tungate 9+2, Damian Drozdz 9+2, Jye Etheridge 7+1, Craig Cook 7.

The Belle Vue Colts take to the National Stadium track tomorrow (Friday) when they face Stoke in the National League in a fixture moved back two days to avoid a clash with England’s football World Cup semi-final.

The visitors include Cumbrian Rob Shuttleworth, who was a member of the Colts 2017 National League winning team, as well as Max Clegg, one of the out-an-out stars of National League racing.

The Aces then face the high-flying Somerset outfit at the N.S.S on Monday in a crunch Premiership clash.

Somerset arrive in Manchester as the new league leaders after a surprise away win at Wolverhampton on Monday saw them leapfrog Swindon at the top of the table.

By Graham Goodwin

Pictures by Ian Charles