SPEEDWAY: Great Britain are through to the World Cup final after a thrilling meeting in front of 6,000 fans at the Norfolk Arena on Saturday.
GB manager Alun Rossiter had chosen Simon Stead, Danny King and Chris Harris with world champion Tai Woffinden as captain and the home nation could not have asked for a better start when 2013 King’s Lynn Stars rider Stead powered to victory ahead of Aussie Darcy Ward.
This pattern continued throughout the night for Rossiter’s men as the team spirit shone brightly in the British pits and Stead again proved just why the manager had put so much faith in the Leicester man as when beat American legend Greg Hancock.
The British riders were in consistent form with all four picking up double-figure scores. By contrast, the three opposing teams could muster only three double-figure scorers between them, although Hancock’s 19 was the night’s top haul.
Britain led after the 16 programmed races going into the manager-nominated races.
Australia chose to play their tactical substitute that allowed Troy Batchelor an extra ride. But that was won by Woffinden to put Britain within touching distance of overall victory.
Drama unfolded in Heat 18 when Australia’s former Stars rider Ward turned into the pantomime villain. He was chasing down Chris Harris when he suddenly stopped near the start line. With the match referee not stopping the race, Ward turned his bike sideways on the track, giving referee Wojciech Grodzki no choice but to call a halt. Ward said he had seen a red light but was excluded, sparking mayhem in the pit area.
Harris won the rerun to prompt wild celebrations as Great Britain won their World Cup event since 2010 to advance to the final in Bydgoszcz, Poland, tomorrow.
A delighted Rossiter said: “I’m pretty pleased with that. “I can’t believe how calm I’ve been. I’ve been traipsing about from pillar to post all day trying to get passes for everybody.
“The boys have done me so proud tonight. Simon Stead’s opening heat win was for all the doubters. That was fantastic, I’m so made up for Steady.
“We will go to Bydgoszcz all together as a team. Ritchie Worrall will be in the five with us.”
Great Britain 44 (Tai Woffinden 12, Danny King 11, Chris Harris 11, Simon Stead 10).
USA 37 (Greg Hancock 19, Gino Manzares 9, Ricky Wells 5, Max Ruml 4).
Australia 36 (Jason Doyle 15, Troy Batchelor 14, Darcy Ward 6, Cameron Woodward 1).
Italy 10 (Nicolas Covatti 7, Michele Paco Castagna 2, Mattia Carpanese 1, Nicolas Vicentin 0).
Great Britain qualify for tomorrow’s World Cup final in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
USA and Australia qualified for last night’s race-off, also in Bydgoszcz.