MILDENHALL’S Stefan Nielsen completed a successful defence of the British Under-19 Championship with victory at Coventry on Friday.
Nielsen came through the semi-final to achieve his win, and produced a stunning first two turns in the Final to get the better of his rivals in what was his first-ever meeting at Brandon.
That spelt frustration for the two riders who had qualified automatically for the Final, Ashley Morris having got there with a 15-point maximum and Adam Ellis having dropped his only point to Morris in Heat 19.
But both missed out at the start of the Final with a fast-gating Ben Morley initially in second place as Nielsen swept around the outside, and although Morris passed Morley he wasn’t able to catch Nielsen.
Morris and Ellis always looked the likely automatic Finalists, Ellis doing much of his work from the gate whilst Morris was involved in some good battles – including one with his Dudley team-mate Max Clegg who he re-passed to win Heat 15, and also an on-the-line verdict over Morley four races earlier.
Nielsen scored a solid 12 with two wins and three second places, but the battle for the remaining semi-final spots was close, with three riders on ten points as Morley was joined by Darryl Ritchings – despite a fall after hectic battle in the early stages of Heat 11 – and Coventry Storm’s Oliver Greenwood, who produced one of the best moves of the night with his outside pass on Liam Carr to win Heat 12. Greenwood and Ritchings, though, missed out to Nielsen and Morley in the semi-final.
There was frustration for Josh Bates, who had looked set to put Morley out of the meeting only to suffer mechanical problems at the start of Heat 20 and hand the Kent man a reprieve.
There were two withdrawals after crashes, with 15-year-old Daniel Spiller coming to grief on the parade lap and taking just one ride before pulling out with a knock to the head; whilst Nathan Stoneman was taken to hospital with an ankle injury after a clash with Clegg in Heat 10.
Pre-meeting favourite Kyle Howarth had withdrawn from the event earlier in the day due to illness, but Coventry asset Ryan Terry-Daley gave a competitive showing as his replacement – and regular Storm reserve James Shanes also impressed, including with a dramatic fourth-to-second effort in his fourth outing.
Hard-luck stories also included Carr, who was a late arrival due to traffic and then broke the tapes in his first ride of the night; and Connor Coles, who rode far better than his three points suggested and suffered a broken chain when leading his final outing.
But overall it was a night which produced plenty of good racing, especially in the second half of the meeting, and Nielsen also twice broke the National League track record.
He said: “I think last year I did exactly the same thing, very consistent in the first five races and finished on twelve points which gave me the semi-final.
“I made a good start there whereas in the Final I didn’t get gate one, and I didn’t make the best start because I lifted a bit, I was third going into the corner but I had the momentum around the outside and it worked a treat.
“I enjoyed it, it’s the first time I’ve been to Coventry and I’m very happy with the win. I’d like to say a special thank-you to Michael Lee, I borrowed his engine for two meetings before and I felt it would suit this track well from what people were saying, and it was amazing.”
QUALIFYING SCORES: Ashley Morris 15, Adam Ellis 14, Stefan Nielsen 12, Oliver Greenwood 10, Darryl Ritchings 10, Ben Morley 10, Josh Bates 8, Max Clegg 7, Liam Carr 5, James Shanes 5, Ryan Terry-Daley 5, Nathan Stoneman 4, Connor Coles 3, Daniel Spiller 2, Adam Kirby 2, Nathan Greaves 2, Reece Downes (res) 2, Adam Portwood (res) 0. SEMI-FINAL: Nielsen, Morley, Greenwood, Ritchings. FINAL: Nielsen, Morris, Morley, Ellis.