FORMER Coventry rider Kyle Howarth was crowned British Under-21 Champion at Brandon on Tuesday evening.
Howarth, who lined up for the Buildbase Bees in 2014, got the better of Robert Lambert with a thrilling move in the Final, with the rostrum completed by Coventry asset Stefan Nielsen after a consistent display.
Lambert was the class of the field during the qualifying races as he swept to five wins out of five, overtaking Howarth around the outside in a tremendous move to win Heat 5.
With Howarth winning each of his other riders, he and Lambert always looked likely to fill the automatic places in the Final as a scramble developed for the semi-final spots.
Reigning champion Josh Bates was amongst those to miss the cut, and he was left to rue a crash in Heat 12 when he held third place – and as things turned out, that point would have taken him through.
Coventry asset Ollie Greenwood was involved in two second-bend tangles in his final two outings with the referee deeming him the cause on both occasions, although his crash with Howarth in Heat 20 did appear to leave Greenwood somewhat harshly treated when all-four-back may have been a more obvious verdict.
Ashley Morris and Max Clegg both gave solid displays to score 12 with Nielsen just behind on 11 – and with Bates, Greenwood and Ben Morley missing out, the latter after two mid-meeting falls, the last place in the semi was taken by former Storm rider James Shanes who put in a mature performance to score nine.
Nielsen took the lead in the semi-final only for Clegg to crash out on turn two, and in the re-run it was Morris who hit the front with Nielsen taking the widest of lines on the first lap to get around Shanes and also reach the Final.
Lambert had first choice of gate for the decisive race, and took gate three, but Howarth from gate two was quickest away with Lambert mired in third place – however, a fall for Morris resulted in a race stoppage and three riders back for the re-run.
Howarth was not so fast away second time around and found himself squeezed into the first bend, but he switched to the outside and blasted his way to the front in sensational style, leaving Lambert having to be content with second place and Nielsen third.
Howarth said: “It feels nice, it was a tough meeting and I had a bit of a crash in the last qualifying race, but we got it together and I couldn’t have asked for a better result. It’s my last time in this meeting so I’m stoked.
“Obviously I was winning in the first start of the Final so to go into a re-run is hard, and I know Robert is no slouch and he was on it tonight.
“I knew I had to do something special, I didn’t actually make the start but I went for the big one and it paid off.”
BRITISH UNDER-21 FINAL, Coventry QUALIFYING SCORES: Robert Lambert 15, Kyle Howarth 14, Ashley Morris 12, Max Clegg 12, Stefan Nielsen 11, James Shanes 9, Josh Bates 8, Marc Owen 7, Ben Morley 7, Oliver Greenwood 6, Connor Coles 5, Tom Stokes 5, Connor Mountain 4, Danny Phillips 2, Josh Bailey 2, Ryan Terry-Daley 1, Danno Verge (reserve) 0.