Eastbourne Eagles unveiled a new hero at Arlington Stadium on Monday night as 18-year old Dane Mikkel Michelsen turned in a stunning paid 13-point debut performance.
The display helped his new side become only the third team in season 2013 to lower the colours of the Elite League table topping Birmingham Brummies.
In the final reckoning, the Sussex side secured a 51-41 margin of victory to prevent the Perry Barr outfit from taking any reward from the contest, the first time they have failed to pick up at least a point for their efforts in eight travelling engagements.
The Eagles wrapped up the match with a 5-1 in an awarded final race. However, the meeting ended on a sombre note as Birmingham’s Chris Harris, the visitor’s star performer with four straight wins to that point, was taken by ambulance to hospital following a fall - a suspected broken collarbone being the early diagnosis.
From the moment Michelsen nipped sharply from the start to win his first outing in Eastbourne colours, the Sussex supporters celebrated his every turn of the wheel. However, it was also the superb form shown by reserve Timo Lahti that had just as much to do with the victory.
Showing the sort of dash that he demonstrated on a regular basis in 2012, the Finn contributed a valuable 13-points to the Eagles cause, which included a hard-fought win over Jason Doyle, thwarting the Brummies first use of the tactical ride facility in the current campaign.
Indeed it was the hosts who led throughout the evening, opening up an 8-point (13-5) lead in the first three races and later stretching their advantage to double figures, 35-25 by the conclusion of heat 10 courtesy of a 5-1 in the eighth and a 4-2 in the tenth, both races featuring Michelsen.
Harris and Ben Barker raced to wins in heats thirteen and fourteen respectively and, although both remained shared thus guaranteeing Eastbourne the win on the night, a final share of the spoils in the last race would yet earn them a point.
Harris had been in peerless form throughout the evening and, on that evidence, a six-point win for the Eagles might have been the likely outcome.
Arlington was raised to the rafters, however, as Bjarne Pedersen and Michelsen blazed from the start to leave both Harris and King trailing.
Of course it would have been poetic had the race finished in that order but although the home side were effectively handed that advantage following Harris’s fall, the chief concern at the end was for the Birmingham rider and the possible extent of his injury.
Eagles: Lahti 13(6), Michelsen 11+2(6), Pedersen 10+1(5), Woodward 7+2(5), Nilsson 6+3(4), Gustafsson 4+1(4), RR for Dryml - 51.