STOKE Easy Rider Potters lost the first of two international challenge meetings designed to help them gear up for the start of their Premier Trophy campaign later this month.
They lost 46-43 to a Polish Select side which was superbly fronted by Elite League star Sebastian Ulamek.
The Swindon rider scored an 18-point maximum and had good backing from Andy Smith and Mateusz Szczepaniak in particular with both being in double figures.
Promoter Dave Tattum said: 'Ulamek made all the difference. We wanted a stern test and we got one. I'm not too concerned about the defeat because I thought there were a number of positives in our display and the main thing is that we get a few meetings under our belts and sharpen up a bit as a result.'
Paul Pickering won his first race after two years out but was lucky to escape a crash in Heat Five when his chain snapped.
Jack Hargreaves won a close Heat 10 but the Polish Select won the last five races to take victory on the night.
It will not get any easier for them on Saturday (7.30pm) when they line-up against a Danish Select side that includes Elite League riders such as Niels Kristian Iversen, Henning Bager and Mads Kor neliussen.
Tattum said: 'It's going to be another massive meeting. We start our Premier Trophy the following week with home and away fixtures against Birmingham so we need to get up to speed straight away.'
Stoke SAS Spitfires start their 2007 campaign on April 11 against Weymouth in the KO Cup.