Home rider Robert Lambert crashed out as the British Championship Semi-Final somehow survived the rain at the Adrian Flux Arena on Wednesday night.
Seventeen-year-old Lambert ran out of room when he tried to go round the outside of Stefan Nielsen in Heat 5 during his second outing.
Lambert fell into the fence on turn two of the second lap and was excluded. The re-run was won in the fastest time of the night by reigning champion and Great Britain skipper Tai Woffinden, in 59.78 seconds. Lambert was soon withdrawn from the meeting with a hip injury.
Lambert – in his first British Championship – was the sole home hope because Stars reserve Lewis Kerr was ruled out due to an ongoing hip injury. With the top seven qualifying for the final at Wolverhampton on June 15, the field included the lion’s share of the ten-strong GB World Cup squad, and the first shock came in Heat 3 when under 21 champion Kyle Howarth beat former world champion Woffinden.
The event was delayed by earlier torrential rain for more than an hour from its original 7.30pm start time when reportedly half the 16 riders had refused to race in farcical scenes.
Stars chief Buster Chapman and his team worked wonders with the wet track surface, with Woffinden reported as raring to go. When it was announced there was no more news at 8.15pm, this was met by some boos from fans.
Chapman hurried along the start, telling the crowd: “I do not know what the fuss is about. It’s probably one of the best tracks I’ve had this year.
“If this was an Elite League meeting you’d see some quick times and possibly a track record.”
Craig Cook won the opening heat ahead of fellow Team GB squad man Lambert.
Along with Cook, among the eventual qualifiers was seven-times British champion Scott Nicholls.
Team GB squad member Kerr has been struggling with the hairline fractured hip that he suffered while racing for his Premier League club Newcastle. His place in the line-up was taken by reserve Simon Lambert, the former Stars rider.
Kerr said: “If it was just a fracture I’d have given it a go but because of the muscle damage, some bleeding and the pain, I can’t.”
Rye House’s Steve Boxall was the second rider to pull out of the meeting through injury. His place was taken by Lynn asset and current Swindon rider Lewis Rose, who struggled.
Young Stars duo Scott Campos and Ryan Kinsley were called up to the meeting as reserves.
Scores (in line-up order, Q= qualified for final): Robert Lambert 2 (withdrawn), James Wright 0 (withdrawn), Adam Roynon 9, Craig Cook 11 (Q), Stefan Nielsen 7, Lewis Rose 2, Steve Worrall 8, Danny King 11 (Q), Tai Woffinden 10 (Q), Kyle Howarth 11 (Q), Carl Wilkinson 9 (Q), Kyle Newman 4, Simon Lambert 5, Scott Nicholls 11 (Q), Leigh Lanham 11 (Q), Charles Wright 8. Reserves: Scott Campos 1, Ryan Kinsley 0.
Qualifiers’ finishing places: 1st= King, Nicholls; 3rd Lanham; 4th= Cook, Howarth; 6th Woffinden; 7th Wilkinson on countback from Roynon. Wilkinson went through by virtue of winning one more ride.
Next at the Adrian Flux Arena is an Elite League clash with champions Poole on Thursday.