Coventry stars wow Norfolk fans in British semi-final
Paddy DavittGrand Prix star Chris Harris looked in the mood to retain his British title in last night's semi-final at the Norfolk Arena.Harris was the class act amongst the eight qualifiers for next month's domestic showdown at Wolverhampton with the national title at stake.Paddy Davitt
Grand Prix star Chris Harris looked in the mood to retain his British title in last night's semi-final at the Norfolk Arena.
Harris was the class act amongst the eight qualifiers for next month's domestic showdown at Wolverhampton with the national title at stake.
The Cornishman's Elite League teammate Edward Kennett was equally impressive - the Coventry Bees man inflicting a solitary defeat on Harris in their heat 18 duel.
Watching Team GB and Lynn chief Rob Lyon must have been delighted by the form of the leading principles ahead of July's Saddlebow World Cup qualifier.
Lynn old Chris Schramm delivered on his pre-race pledge with some early fireworks helping to book a final berth and tilt at a British GP wildcard.
Leigh Lanham grabbed the eighth and final qualifying spot from Chris Neath in a run-off after a marathon semi-final punctuated by a series of high speed spills
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Stars' British U21 champion Joe Haines appeared to have made a successful Norfolk Arena return from his recent broken collarbone injury until retiring early on his comeback.
Lee Richardson (ankle) and Ben Wilson were also forced out prematurely - Richardson flying into the bottom boards in an ugly heat five spill.
But Lynn's improving reserve Darren Mallett cashed in on the duo's retirements with some top notch practice in exalted company. Mallett stunned Lanham to grab a heat 13 win but hit the shale twice late on following collisions with Kennett and Carl Wilkinson before bravely re-appearing on both occasions.
Harris avoided the early carnage to signal his intent in a high class opener - clinging on through a tight turn one to head Lewis Bridger.
Paul Clews pounced on Lanham's wide line into turn three to spring a minor upset in the next with Chris Mills smacking into the top boards before dragging his machine clear.
Schramm was a popular heat three winner with Haines diving into the slipstream of last year's grand slam winner.
Kennett claimed a re-run heat four after flying from the tapes not once but twice before Richardson's shunt forced a temporary stoppage.
The Lakeside racer was stretchered into a waiting ambulance and out of the meeting following his fall - Schramm and Mills turning back the clock with a team ride in the renewal.
Simon Stead produced a classy heat seven tour after playing second fiddle to Harris in the opener.
Kennett and Bridger went head-to-head in a battle of the next generation - Kennett recovering his poise around the boards to triumph.
Mallett was mugged for a second behind Kennett when Clews rocketed out of the final turn but Harris had no such alarms in heat ten to maintain his serene progress.
Stead ended Schramm's maximum surge before Bridger entertained the biggest Saddlebow crowd of the season to power past Chris Neath and Lanham. Mallett moved centre stage to make the most of his surprise appearance with a spectacular heat 13 trap.
Bridger and Stead continued to impress but Harris' bid to go through the card ended in heat 18.
Qualifiers for the British Final at Wolverhampton (five rides each): Harris, Kennett 14 points, Stead, Bridger 13, Schramm 10, Clews, King 8, Lanham 7 (beat Neath in a run-off).