The Eastbourne Eagles Fab Four put on a fine show in last night’s British Final at the National Speedway Stadium, Belle Vue.
Lewi Kerr reached the semi-final stage, finishing on eight points.
Richard Lawson scored seven, Edward Kennett six and Kyle Newman three.
New British champion is Charles Wright.
Six of the riders who contested the final are due to line-up at Arlington Stadium on Saturday when Eastbourne face Glasgow in the semi-final of the Championship Shield.
Kevin Ling is your match reporter on one of the big nights in UK speedway. Here is how he saw it all unfold.
There’s a big crowd awaiting the British final on a perfect evening for racing – great weather, sunny and blue skies and track looking good too.
Passing and exciting racing seem virtually assured at the NSS so can’t wait to go racing
Of course the big news is the late withdrawal of current holder and meeting favourite Robert Lambert; don’t forget the unrelated Simon Lambert is in this meeting.
As for the Fineprint Eagles, we couldn’t be better represented with no fewer than four contenders in the sixteen strong field and that stands testament to the club’s 2019 all British policy.
Skipper Edward Kennett lines up at number 4 and will go in the opening heat. Kyle Newman will ride in the number eight jacket and will first appear in race two – Richard Lawson (number 9) and Lewi Kerr (number 12) will go head against each other in heat three – so there is plenty of Eagle activity here in Manchester this evening.
Outside of the Eastbourne representation, who else could the smart money favour: 2016 winner Danny King possibly or 2017 champ Craig Cook, maybe?
Could home hero Dan Bewley, or even Steve Worrall have a say? Or could it be one of the old stagers, Scottie Nicholls, Chris Harris or possibly even Rory Schlein who rode so well at Arlington on Saturday.
Ht 1 Wright (r) Schlein (b) Kennett (w) Lambert (y).
Perfect start for Wright and and he nosed away down the back straight moving clear of Schlein. Edward came from the back against Lambert and continued to put pressure on Schlein for second, but just doesn’t have the legs.
Ht 2 King (r) Starke (b) Ayres (w) Newman (y)
A fine start and an all the way win for King, eventually leading home Starke who had fought an early battle with Ayres for second place. Not so ideal for Kyle who kept Ayres honest in the latter stages – battled hard but he just couldn’t get on terms
Ht 3 Cook (r) Bewley (b) Lawson (w) Kerr (y). Tough one for Richard and Lewi from the off against two of the meeting’s favourite
The ideal start for Cook who becomes the third successive rider to win from the fast inside gate – a great effort from both Richard, taking second and Lewi who rode a fine four laps to keep the chasing Bewley at bay
Ht 4 Auty (r) Worrall (b) Nicholls (w) Harris (y)
Worrall looked set to make home knowledge count but Harris scorched past down the outside on the back straight first time around – Auty earned plaudits coming past Nicholls inside on the run in to lap three for a hard fought third place but there was no catching the flying bomber however who storms home ahead of Worrall.
Ht 5 Harris (r) Wright (b) King (w) Lawson (y). Another tough one for Richard who faces no fewer than three of the race winners first time out – track grading now taking place
Not the best start from Richard on the outside gate but he makes up for it storming past Harris on the run down the back straight – he didn’t quite have the wheels to put pressure on the lead duo – no doubt about the winner as King romps home for a second time this time ahead of Wright – Richard coming home in third keeping Harris at bay.
Ht 6 Worrall (r) Cook (b) Schlein (w) Ayres (y )
This time Worrall did make home knowledge pay as he gated to lead Cook – a Herculean effort from the Glasgow rider but Worrall held firm for the full course – again Ayres gave of his best but he just couldn’t get the better of Schlein for third
Ht 7 Bewley (r) Auty (b) Starke (w) Kennett (y)
This time it’s Bewley who comes to the party gating to lead home Starke – not the best of fortunes for Edward who looked to be lining up Auty but the third bend saw Ed lose a bit of control when coming on the inside of the Scunthorpe rider and goes wide and effectively out of contention.
Ht 8 Lambert (r ) Newman (b) Kerr (w) Nicholls (y)
Two eagles Kyle and Lewi now face each other.Lambert suffers machinery problems before the off and exceeds the two minutes replaced by Kyle Bickley
A great race between Kerr and Nicholls in the early part – in was Kyle who made the start but he was rounded by the aforementioned two – Lewi looked to have the drop on his opponent but Nicholls came steaming through on the inside on the approach to lap two – Lewi kept him honest but that’s how it stayed with Kyle fending off Bickley for third
Ht 9 Ayres (r) Nicholls (b) Wright (w) Bewley (y)
News just emerged that Bewley has had to withdraw following the reoccurrence of a back injury – Leon Flint is the replacement in heat 9.
Nicholls picks up the early running but Wright sweeps around the outside to take a controlled win – Ayres keeps pressure on Nicholls and isn’t far away taking third – Leon Flint also gave a good account of himself.
Ht 10 Kerr (r) King (b) Auty (w) Schlein (y)
Another fast gate for Lewi but he couldn’t hold off the chasing King who powers past entering the third bend to seize his third win in three – behind them Auty gets the better of Schlein for third place
Ht 11 Newman (r) Lawson (b) Kennett (w) worrall (y) a veritable eagles fest here with no fewer than three of our lads out against the imposing presence of Belle Vue man Worrall.
Kyle hits the front from the outset but Ed hammers around the outside and proceeds to dominate the race – Kyle in second but gets his nose cut off by Worrall on the run in to lap two but there was to be no catching the flying Edward – surprisingly quiet from Richard who was unable to land a blow
Ht 12 Harris (r) Lambert (b) Cook (w) Starke (y)
Cook duelling with Starke around the first lap but a blistering ride from Harris who comes through on the inside line entering lap two – Cook rallies and a great race ensues but Harris held the high ground coming home for a stunning win – Starke taking third behind cook ahead of Lambert
Ht 13 Starke (r) Kerr (b) Worrall (w) Wright (y)
Tough one for Lewi though. He looked to have the legs though and he leads down the back straight but the race wasn’t destined to make the third bend as Starke takes a heavy fall as he clips Wright who was coming through into third
Thankfully, Starke is now up and making his way back to the pits – Wright has been adjudged responsible for the cause of the stoppage to the surprise of some – question is will Starke make it to tapes in time for the rerun?
Starke makes it out on track having been checked over by paramedics – then sheds a chain – already wearing Kyle Buckley’s helmet, he’s now borrowing his bike too
The action finally gets underway and the travelling Eastbourne fans are rewarded with the sight of Lewi Kerr powering to victory having withstood the four lap challenge of Worrall – Starke completes the course to take third place but looks understandably a little second hand
Ht 14 Schlein (r) Harris (b) Newman (w) Bickley (y ) – replacing Bewley.
Slight delay as additional time allowed, not for Bickley but for his bike and helmet (used by Starke in the previous race)
A great effort for Newman who receives a shove from Harris in the first turn – Schlein heads clear of the pack to take the win – Newman storms into second down the back straight but Harris recovers sufficiently to come through to take second entering first bend of lap two – Schlein was well ahead by now and took the win ahead of his Somerset team mate
Ht 15 Nicholls (r) Kennett (b) Cook (w) King (y )
What a fantastic race – the best so far – won eventually by Cook from King with Edward eventually finishing third. That hardly does the story justice though as Kennett first held the lead and though Cook came through Ed still duelled brilliantly with King – deserved more than a mere point for his efforts but sadly not the be. Just for the record, Scott Nicholls brings up the rear
Ht 16 Lawson (r) Ayres (b) Lambert (w) Auty (y)
Another cracking race and one that I fancied Richard to feature highly in – first running frustrated with Auty warned to remain stationary but at the second time of asking it was all about the two Scunthorpe lads who diced and duelled for the full four laps – Ayres looked to have it in the bag but Auty produced the big finish to nick it on the run in – a great race but Richard unfortunately had to settle for third place ahead of Lambert.
News emerging from the pits – Starke now withdrawn suffering an arm injury – a worry no doubt for the Glasgow fans with Saturdays big championship shield semi final in prospect at Eastbourne.
A few spit spots of rain now in the air but nothing that should cause a problem
Ht 17 Wright (r) Newman (b) Auty (w) Cook (y)
Wright makes up for his previous race exclusion disappointment by powering away for the win ahead of Cook – another fine gate for Kyle but unfortunately he couldn’t make it stick – Auty also coming past in mid race to take third – Kyle finishing his night on 3-points
Ht 18 Lawson (r) Schlein (b) Flint (w)- replacing Starke, Nicholls (y )
It’s not been the best of nights for our Richard but he finishes with a win and goes out with a bang winning a superb battle with both Schlein and Nicholls who finish second and third respectively – Richard finishes on 7-points
Ht 19 Kennett (r) Kerr (b) Harris (w) Ayres (y)
Another great race as the meeting moves towards a conclusion – unfortunately not one that was destined to go either Edward or Lewi’s way. Although Harris would take the win, the standing applause was reserved for Danny Ayres who rode a fantastic race trading places with but coming back past Harris – he looked to have the race sewn up but the final two turns saw him get all out of shapes but although it was something of a bucking bronco show he remain aboard to take second ahead of Edward (who finished on 6-points) with Lewi bringing up the rear (to finish the qualifiers on 8-points).
Ht 20 King (r) Worrall (b) Bickley (w) – replacing Bewley, Lambert (y)
An all the way win for King to finish on 14-points and qualify directly for the final along with Craig Cook. Worrall finishes second to book his semi final slot ahead of Lambert and Bickley in turn
Semi final line up Worrall (r) Wright (b) Harris (w) Kerr (y) Lewi’s 8-points having earned him a place in the semi final
An impressive effort for him to get there but as the tapes rose he just couldn’t make it stick – from the outside gate he left the tapes last but to me it looked as if he was preparing a swoop through on the inside – it was not to be though sadly and it was Wright who charged through to the front.
Worrall held second for the remainder of the first lap but entering the second circuit Harris burst through on his inside to seize the fourth final spot – Worrall ended the race in third ahead of Lewi in fourth spot but he had certainly done us proud
Final line up: Cook (r) King (b) Wright (w) Harris (y).King had first choice of gates and selected gate 2, Cook opting for the inside and Wright selecting gate three leaving Harris on the outside trap.
Final – and Charles wright is the British champion – deservedly so as he burst through down the back straight past both Cook and King in turn to win the title – such a brave ride and one that deserved the standing ovation (usually only reserved for Danny Ayres surely) that he got – for a time it was Cook who held second but king muscled his way past down the back straight of lap two to snatch the runners up spot from the Glasgow / King’s Lynn rider – this time Bomber Harris trailed the field but as he learned this very day that he is due to be a father again. I have no doubt he would have today marked down as a good day!
Qualifying scores King 14(5), Cook 12(5), Wright 11(5), Harris (5), Worrall 11(5), Schlein 8(5), Kerr 8(5), – other scorers: Auty 7(5), Lawson 7(5), Starke 6(4), Kennett 6(5), Ayres 6(5), Nicholls 6(5), Bewley 3(2) Newman 3(5), Lambert 1(4) reserves Leon flint 0(2), Kyle Bickley 0(3)
Charles wright also secures the wild card entry for the Cardiff Grand Prix – he makes his home return to Redcar against the Eagles this Sunday afternoon at 2 pm.
Images: Mike Hinves and Tiffani Graveling Photography