Norfolk Arena’s big occasion turns sour

Former King's Lynn favourite Nicki Pedersen clinched an incident-packed Elite League Riders' championship last night at the Norfolk Arena.The world champion-elect held off British GP victor Chris Harris to clinch the title after a shambolic opening to the high profile occasion in front of a huge Saddlebow crowd and live television audience.

Former King's Lynn favourite Nicki Pedersen clinched an incident-packed Elite League Riders' championship last night at the Norfolk Arena.

The world champion-elect held off British GP victor Chris Harris to clinch the title after a shambolic opening to the high profile occasion in front of a huge Saddlebow crowd and live television audience.

Stars' co-promoter Buster Chapman and his staff were forced into an overtime shift during a 15-minute delay after heat five to grade the inconsistent Norfolk Arena surface.

Pedersen and main world championship rival Leigh Adams led calls for the impromptu time out during talks with race officials after the early kamikaze action threatened to wreck the showpiece.

Harris was one of a trio to hit the shale in the opener before Scott Nicholls and Stars' wild card Tomas Topinka also slid off in the early carnage.

Pedersen held his nerve after the re-start to turn in an imperious display on his former stomping ground in the absence of injured defending champion Jason Crump, who pulled out after aggravating a knee problem in Poole's Elite League win the previous night.

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"This is one of my favourite tracks but it wasn't right in the early part of the meeting," said Pedersen.

"By the end it was a real racer's track and everyone was enjoying it. I knew it was going to be tough but the crowd was fantastic and I came here to win.

"It's the sort of track you have to race flat out. You can't just ride it. We couldn't get the bike in during the first races and it was so grippy in places and slick in others - it was very, very dangerous."

Eastbourne team mate Davey Watt delivered on his pre-meeting pledge - inflicting Pedersen's only defeat of the night in the final qualifying heat.

Pedersen exacted his revenge with a sublime trap from gate two to dominate the final ahead of 'Bomber' Harris. Swindon racer Adams edged out his Aussie compatriot for the final podium spot. Topinka had earlier impressed in the eventful prelims after replacing Belle Vue's injured racer Joe Screen.

Lynn's Czech maestro was harshly excluded in heat five after appearing to get a nudge from Hans Andersen in his battle to reach the semis.

Chris Mills endured a tough night after his late call up for Lee Richardson but 2006 treble winning team mate Troy Batchelor was only a point away from booking his place in the eliminator.

Pedersen made light of the tricky conditions to open his account in fine style with Adams the other class act in the opening skirmishes.

Batchelor won a Stars' reunion in heat ten ahead of former skipper Topinka with Mills in the rear. Harris flew around the outside of Adams to scupper his perfect start.

Pedersen then sliced across Adams in their dress rehearsal before Bjarne Pedersen held off the marauding Harris in a quality duel. Adams booked his final slot with a heat 17 cruise.

Harris trapped to the eliminator in the penultimate qualifying heat with Watt joining him in the semi after spoiling Pedersen's perfect set with a superb outside line.

Final: 1 N Pedersen, 2 Harris, 3 Adams, 4 Watt. Eliminator: 1 Watt, 2 Harris, 3 B Pedersen, 4 Kasprzak.

Qualifying heats (five rides each): 1 N Pedersen 14 points, 2 Adams 13, 3 Watt 12, 4 Harris 10, 5 B Pedersen 10, 6 Kasprzak, Batchelor 8, 8 Andersen 7, 9 Nicholls 7, 10 McGowan 6, 11 Schlein 6, 12 Shields 6, 13 Topinka 6, 14 Lindgren 5, 15 Mills, Louis 1.