NZ in the 1973 World League - Part 6
It was a Roast with the Russkies. July 9 with the programme at Reading reading the following line-ups;
The Soviet Supermen had not won a match and Ronnie Moore was not at all worried,
"We were reasonably confident of beating the Russians. This was a tight circut and we didn't think the Russians would have much of a chance mastering it. We were wrong! They had given a lot of thought to the matter and came up with a form of legal "cheating" which almost put us out of the league. Their best two men [ Grigori Chlinovski & Vladimir Gordeev ] were named as reserves and the rest of the team took extraordinary risks at the gate. They went on the green light every time and if they were excluded they had one of their best men as a replacement. If they got away with a flier, they were well on the way to a heat win. Taking them from behind was no easy task!"
Speedway Star had the following report by Jim White;
'The Soviet Union with the backing of the Tilehurst crowd gave NZ a bigger fight than the Kiwis could have expected. Indeed, had the Russians not suffered six tape exclusions at the hands of over-zealous ACU referee Gordon Little, many felt they would have won. There were plenty of incidents both on and off the track [ Gary Peterson was excluded for bringing down Georgi Ivanov in heat 6 and almost started a Russian Revolution ] including a frightening heat 13 crash when Barry Briggs who had moved out to block Vladimir Zapleczny went under the fence at high speed. Barry was soon on his feet and rode in the re-run with the Russian excluded.'
Ronnie Moore had this to say regarding that last heat,
"Barry was very sore. Otherwise, he appeared to be all right. At any rate, he was determined to take part in the re-run and borrowed Ivan's bike for this. Zapleczny was excluded and his partner Pavlov took a chance with the green light. He was gone before either Barry or I had even thought about it. I let Barry in front of me to give him first chance at a challenge before I realized that all was not well with him. So I started a big 'death dive' round the outside and took both of them at once to bring my points score to eleven, one short of a maximum and my best so far."
Heat 1. Mauger, Kuzmin, Peterson, Gordeev. Pavlov ex/tapes
New Zealand 43.
A very relieved Ronnie Moore continued,
"Our win left us third at the end of the round-robin section of the tournament and we were drawn to meet England in one of the semi-finals at Belle Vue. England, for the first time almost in living memory, had shown the depth of ability to reach the top and we knew that. Even if we could win with our heat leaders, we would have trouble holding them with our lower order riders. To make matters worse, Barry Briggs was suffering a collarbone injury as a result oh his last heat crash."
So to the Semis. Would the Kiwis be singing "Rule Brittania, marmalade and jam."? Or would the Lubricated Lions be feasting on their feathers?
This article was first published on 28th July 2019
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