Home win for Masters in Ashley Jones meeting
King's Lynn's Elite League ace Sam Masters edged a stunning Ashley Jones memorial meeting tonight at the Norfolk Arena.
Masters overhauled Lynn old boy Kozza Smith in a final worthy of the occasion with Taylor Poole claiming the final podium place from Simon Lambert. Masters and Smith had topped the qualifiers with 14 points apiece but Smith blasted from the tapes in the winner-takes-all finale only for Masters to hit back in a mesmerising display of sudden death speedway. Smith dipped back inside the Aussie on the final lap but Masters held his nerve exiting the last bend to win by half a bike length.
Jones' childhood pal and pre-race favourite Kevin Doolan was a surprise omission from the final, but Stars' reserve Filip Sitera looked set for a last four place until he shed a chain in his final qualifier.
Stars' chief Buster Chapman admitted the parade of past and present Saddlebow racers was a fitting tribute to Lynn's 2005 Premier League KO Cup and Young Shield winner Jones.
'I am sure lots of the fans will remember what a great young man Ashley was,' reflected Chapman in the commemorative race programme. 'Some of you may have been lucky enough to meet him personally. I have said it over and over again but he was one of my favourites, he had a big heart and also real grit and determination to succeed.
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'He is and always will be truly missed but we aim to keep his name and spirit alive here at King's Lynn by continuing to stage this memorial meeting every year.'
Smith gated to inflict Masters' only defeat of the night in the opener. Sitera delighted the home fans to stalk Peter J Larsen prior to a decisive pounce.
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Doolan deferred to Czech GP ace Matej Kus with new Stars' recruit Lee Complin unable to feature in the rear. Lynn old boy John Oliver was impressive in heat four to head Jones' younger brother Mark.
Masters held off Kus in the next with Lambert left at the traps. Ipswich youngster Poole blasted around the bottom boards to repel Sitera before Smith reduced heat eight to a procession to maintain his unblemished early record.
Masters and Poole duelled in heat nine but the Lynn racer prevailed against his Aussie compatriot. Complin opened his account in the next as the Berwick man started to become accustomed to his new Saddlebow surroundings.
Smith and Doolan went head-to-head in heat 12 with Oliver and Sitera completing the best line up of the qualifiers. Smith surged into turn one as Doolan again struggled from the gate before holding up Sitera to complete his hat-trick.
Lambert edged Doolan in a heat 16 thriller - the popular Aussie smacking his handlebars in frustration. Smith kept his cool following a nasty spill for Kus to remain unbeaten – the Czech forced into an early retirement following his turn two jack knife.
Masters was the first qualifier through to the final after trapping to head Doolan before Smith's throttle-perfect night was finally ended by Poole in heat 20.
• Final: 1 Masters, 2 Smith, 3 Poole, 4 Lambert.
• Qualifying heats (maximum five rides each): 1 Masters, Smith 14 points; 3 Poole 12; 4 Lambert 10; 5 Doolan, Sitera 9; 7 Kus 8; 8 Sedgmen, Larsen 7; 10 Complin 6; 11 Oliver, Cockle 5; 13 Jones, Wilson 4; 15 Davies, Knight, Campos 2.