Defending the Championship from 2000 was always going to be a difficult task for Exeter, yet they still managed a very creditable 7th placing in the league and reached the KO Cup Final.
Graeme Gordon opted to try pastures new, Roger Lobb was ruled out through suspension and the talented Chris Harris decided a smaller track would advance his career and he swithched to the new P.L outfit Trelawny if in a somewhat contrversial fashion.
Lawrence Hare, who had suffered a bad 2000 season through injuries wanted a return to P.L racing and jumped at the offer of joing the Falcon's, whilst Mark Simmonds, Seemond Stephens, Bobby Eldridge and eventually Michael Coles were all back in the side.
In the reserves, Jason Prynne came in from St Austell having had a couple of outings at Exeter in 2000, and in came untried David Osborn who only had limited C.L racing at Rye House.
The season got off to a bad start for Exeter in the premier Trophy losing 38-52 at Newport, despite a superb unbeaten 18pt maximum from Michael Coles. But Exeter struggled to find their usual home dominance and were held to a draw at the County Ground by the I.O.W in the latter part of April.
The much admired Matt Cambridge was soon ruled out for the whole season when he broke his thigh at Craven Park. Stand in reserve mark Phillips crashed out the following Monday suffering a double fracture of the wrist. Justin Elkins and Krister Marsh were drafted into the side with no fewer than eleven riders wearing the number seven race jacket before Krister Marsh made it his own following a crash out by Justin Elkins.
Slowly the Falcons began to turn things around the local derby matches with Trelawny proved to be a real turning point. After winning at home 60-32, they travelled to Trelawny the following night to produce a stunning performance and won there 53-37. They battled on to get into the top eight play off places and clinched it with an away win at Reading. Sadly, they were soon put out of the competion by the I.O.W who won both legs of the tie.
In the KO Cup, they first brushed aside Newport before a couple of humdingers against Reading and Swindon before finally losing out to Hull in the Final, going down 75-105 on aggregate.
Then in December, Exeter's Landlords, informed Colin Hill that they no longer wanted Speedway at the County Ground and gave the Falcons an eviction notice which stunned not only Exeter but created a storm throughout the Speedway community. Racing at Exeter was in jeopardy, but Colin Hill was not about to throw in the towel.
Some of the other riders who were briefly wearing that number seven vest included Tom Brown, Justin Elkins, Barrie evans, David Speight and Mark Thompson
Elsewhere in 2001
This was the Year when the Country was hit by the Foot and Mouth epedemic with Trelawny being the first casualty having to pull out of the Premier Trophy before the ban was lifted and they were re instated.
Poole (117pts) won the Craven Shield Final from Peterborough (111pts) and Wolverhampton (96pts) whilst Peterborough won the E.L KO Cup Final beating Ipswich 93-87 on aggregate In the Premier League, the IOW won the PL Young Shield beating Edinburgh 103-77 on aggregate and Hull beat Exeter 105-75 on agg to take P.L KO Cup, and Somerset won the Conference League KO Cup final beating Rye House 109-71
As for the League Titles, Oxford take the E.L finishing the season on 58 points, just one ahead of runners up Poole and three ahead of third placed Coventry. Newcastle secured the P.L Championship Title with 53 points, second were Hull on 50pts with Sheffield third on 47pts. And in the Conference league, Sheffield won the title on 29 points ahead of Somerset (26pts) and Boston (21pts).
Pictured Left, the Elite League Winners Oxford celebrate.
Tony Rickardson wins his fourth world title scoring 121 points from the grand Prix series. Second was J.Crump on 113 points, T.Gollob was third on 89 points whilst fourth was Ryan Sullivan with 80 points, only 6 G.P's being staged in 2001.
Jason Crump wins E.L Riders final, 2nd Scott Nicholls , 3rd Nicki Pedersen, 4th Mikael karlsson.
Simon Stead won the British U21 Final scoring a perfect 15pts to beat David Howe (12), Paul Lee (12) and Oliver Allen (12), after a run off for the minor places.
Suprise winner of the World U21 Final was David Kujawa (Poland) who scored 12points to beat Lukas Dryml (11pts) and Rafal Okeniewski (Poland) 10pts.
Mark Loram won the British Final at Coventry scoring 14pts to beat runner up Stuart Robson (12) and Marting Dugard (12) after a run off for the minor placings.
Jason Lyons (Pictured Right) took the Overseas Final staged at Poole with a flawless 15pt maximum. Runner up was Gary Havelock (13pts) and Sam Ermolenko beat Scott Nicholls in a run off for third spot after both had scored 11pts in the main event.
Workington (22pts) won the PL Fours beating Newcastle (21pts), Sheffield (19pts) and the IOW (10pts) and also won the P.L Pairs Title where Carl Stonehewer and Pter Karlsson beat the Newcastle pairing of Bjarne Pedersen and Jesper Olsen in the Final.
Carl Stonehewer also the P.L Riders Final at Coventry beating Sean Wilson, James Grieves and Simon Stead whilst in the C.L Final, David Mason won ahead of Scott Pegler, Simon Wolstenholme and James Mann
Australia (68pts) won the World Cup Final staged in Wroclaw. Runners up were Poland (65pts), Sweden (51pts), Denmark (44pts) and America (30pts).
Gerd Riss was crowned World Longtrack Champion finishing the series on 95 points to beat runner up Kelvin Tatum who totalled 76pts and Robert Barth was third on 70pts.
Other Individual winners this year were - Paul Fry the Welsh Open (Newport), Paul Bentley the Karl Friar Memorial Trophy (Berwick), Jan Staechmann the Northern Riders Classic (Sheffield), Ales Dryml the Bob Jones Memorial Trophy (Swindon), Paul thorp the Pride of the Potteries (Stoke), Dave Mullett the Smallmead Classic (Reading), Joe Screen the Wiggys Day Out Trophy (Peterborough), David Mason the Ace of Hearts Trophy (Rye House), Steve Johnston the Welsh Open (Newport), Troy Pratt the Essex Championship (Arena Essex), Andre Compton the Scottish Open (Edinburgh), Tony Rickardsson the Blue Riband (Poole), Mikael Karlsson the Olympique (Wolverhampton) and Mark Loram the Bordernapolis (Berwick)
*Neither of the Belle Vue v Peterborough Fixtures were raced.
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