King’s Lynn Stars rider Robert Lambert got his World Under-21 title bid off to a superb start when finishing runner-up in Round 1 of the Final at his home track on Saturday.
The Norfolk teenager reached top form on his World U21 debut and was second to Polish sensation Krystian Pieszczek at the Adrian Flux Arena.
Eighteen-year-old Lambert just failed to catch his big rival on the finish line after shadowing Pieszczek, who was first to the gate in the Grand Final, where Australian Max Fricke was third and German Erik Riss fourth.
After this opening clash in the three-round series, Lambert is a point behind Pieszczek and six points ahead of third-placed Jack Holder.
Lambert said: “For sure it was a hard night, and there were a lot of tough races. I nearly managed to go through the card and get a maximum, but yes, it was a tough night.
“I thought gate four was going to be the one for me in the Final, but I just didn’t quite get to the corner first, which is always a chase to the dirt.
“Whoever gets to the dirt first is going to do well. That’s what happens, and the result stands.
“I’m not too disappointed with my first Final, I just need to move on. There are two more rounds and I need to build on tonight.”
Lambert was in best overtaking form during a four-hour event which was prolonged due to a succession of spills and crashes.
The early pace-setters were Lambert, Aussie Fricke and Pole Pawel Przedpelski, who all won their first two rides. However, Fricke tangled awkwardly with Mikkel B Andersen in Heat 9 on the back straight, and although he still made it to the Final he was not able to replicate his earlier speed.
Przedpelski looked every inch a possible winner with two highly impressive race victories, but his night ended in a frightening first-bend spill in Heat 12, ironically when he careered into Pieszczek and was taken to hospital.
Lambert provided one of the highlights in Heat 15 to go from last to first against Nathan Greaves, Fricke and Adam Ellis, before dropping his only point in the qualifiers to Riss in Heat 19.
However, he sailed through the semi-final which saw the elimination of fellow Brit Josh Bates after a strong performance as Riss, Pieszczek and Fricke made it through.
Hopes of a home victory were high but the Pole hit the front from the start in the showdown.
The series continues at Czech Republic venue Pardubice on September 16, before concluding in Poland at Gdansk on October 2.
Scores: Krystian Pieszczek 20 (1st), Robert Lambert 19 (2nd), Jack Holder 13, Max Fricke 12 (3rd), Josh Bates 12, Erik Riss 10 (4th), Bartosz Smektala 7, Pawel Przedpelski 6, Eduard Krcmar 6, Patrick Hansen 6, Victor Kulakov 6, Dimitri Berge 6, Adam Ellis 5, Joel Andersson 5, Mikkel B Andersen 2, Zach Wajtknecht 1, Nathan Greaves (res) 1, Max Clegg (res) 0.