King's Lynn rider impresses as speedway returns at last
King’s Lynn Stars on Sunday became only the second British speedway club to stage racing with a crowd this year - while their new signing celebrated with a podium place.
Following a league season scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first competitive racing of the campaign at the Adrian Flux Arena witnessed Lynn hosting the third round of the British Youth Championship.
Officials estimated that around 400 to 500 fans turned up to see 30 heats of shale action, which was encouraging considering only one local rider was involved: Stars teenager Elliot Kelly, who finished third in the 500cc final.
The recent recruit had also finished third in a previous round at Leicester a week beforehand.
The cream of British youth talent raced over 26 qualifying heats and four finals in three classes: 500cc, 250cc and 125cc, the latter being split into A and B sections.
Handily a window in the weather opened in a hitherto rain-swept bank holiday weekend which enabled track action in begin in sunshine. Fans, who were required to wear face masks, seemed to be observing social distancing inside the stadium and were spread out over all four bends plus the stands and terraces.
The 16-year-old Kelly had to wait until the fifth heat to take his bow. He did this in style in the white helmet by making a great start over nearest rival Archie Freeman, who did his best to overtake during the rest of the race. However Kelly held on to take the chequered flag.
Lynn’s teenage prospect then recorded second and third positions in Heats 19 and 24 respectively. It meant he needed to better the finishes of Heat 26 opponents Freeman, Mickie Simpson and Sam McGurk to make absolutely sure of a final position.
In the event Simpson fell on the fourth bend to make Kelly’s task much simpler and the Lynn rider finished second behind Freeman to seal the fourth and last final place and come up with a tally of eight points from four qualifying rides.
Kelly was on gate three for the 500cc showdown but could not catch the impressive winner Joe Thompson and Harry McGurk, while Dan Thompson stalled on the line.
He said afterwards: “I’m not as happy as I would have been if I’d won – if you’re not winning, you’re losing!
“But I can’t really be disappointed. It was nice to be in front of a good crowd again, a home crowd who will see me in the years to come, and show them what I’m about.”
Overall there were few stoppages during the two hours, although Caydin Martin suffered his second fall of the night on the first straight in the 125cc B final and had to be taken away by ambulance as a precaution.
The only other youngster who seemed to get injured was William Hocaniuk, who got into difficulties at the tapes of Heat 23. He needed paramedic treatment and as a result could not take his place in the 250cc final.
Organisers hope to stage at least one more round this year, on October 7 at Belle Vue.
Category top three podium spots at Lynn, 500cc: 1 Joe Thompson, 2 Harry McGurk, 3 Elliot Kelly. 250cc: 1 Luke Harrison, 2 Max James, 3 Ashton Vale. 125cc A: 1 Sonny Springer, 2 Billy Budd, 3 Jamie Etherington. 125cc B: 1 Rico Joyce, 2 Becky Weston (Caydin Martin did not finish in a three-rider final). SCB referee: Tony Steele.