Speedway is – usually – a team sport.
Which means a rider has to do his best, not just on his own account but for the collective good.
On Saturday past, for instance – Joe Jacobs, who will be anxious to show us he can win races in black-and-gold -- was in the fresh air, out in front during Heat 6 (arguably the race which turned the match on its head) but visibly eased up to let partner Ryan Douglas take the black-and-white flag ahead of him.
This was totally-acceptable and understood by all because Ryan’s helmet colour matched that flag.
We might even hark back to early in June, when Nick Morris provided us with an absolute master-class in team-riding, practically pushing Jye Etheridge round on a wheelbarrow to gain a vital 5-1 over the Comics.
Again, could Nick have won that race. Undoubtably. But he chose to hang back, give Jye the win to ensure the 5-1. For the greater good.
Now then – in case you were wondering, I do have a point to make – if you were watching the WTC race-off last Friday night (I saw it later as a recording, as I was cheering on the Bandits against Edinburgh of course) you would have seen Australia’s Troy Batchelor hanging back in a race, obviously easing into third place when second seemed to be his for the taking.
Again, this was clearly for the Aussie cause – his single point would allow their use of the (controversial, but it’s in the rules) ‘joker’ for double points in the following race. Like Joe and like Nick, Troy was dropping a place for the good of the team.
Well and good? Nope, the referee excluding Batch for ‘manipulating the result of the race’. Just as Joe Jacobs did last Saturday and just as Nick did against Worky.
Which is crap.
If you have a rule which creates an opportunity for riding to team orders, you cannot then put a rider out when he chooses to finish in a position lower than he could have to help his team possibly win a match.
Unless you are a German official called Christian Froschauer, full of your own importance and strange ideas about what constitutes team speedway.
Next, stand by for an over-zealous referee here in the UK (yes I know, hard to believe, but….) deciding to exclude a rider for slowing to let a black-and-white helmeted partner past, or worse for indulging in some honest-to-goodness team riding!
By the way, the exclusion of Greg Hancock in Melbourne last year was a totally-different kettle of prawns – the GP is an individual competition, and there must obviously be no team-riding allowed.
To suggest otherwise would be indeed Monstrous.
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