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Speedway: Morley wins National League Riders’ Championship

PUBLISHED: 07:36 01 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:36 01 October 2018

Ben Morley in action at Arena Essex Raceway (Pic: Shane Chittock)

Ben Morley in action at Arena Essex Raceway (Pic: Shane Chittock)

SHANE CHITTOCK

Lakeside Hammers Ben Morley was crowned National League Riders’ Champion for the second time with a dramatic victory at Leicester on Sunday.

Morley defeated his Hammers team-mate Alfie Bowtell in a hotly-contested run-off, which was finally resolved when Bowtell crashed on the last lap.

Third place went to Coventry’s Connor Mountain, who looked the likely winner for much of the afternoon as he reeled off wins in his first four rides – including a fine effort to overhaul Tom Perry in Heat 12.

But Morley and Bowtell remained in touch, despite dropping one point apiece in their first three rides – Morley losing out to Mountain in heat eight before beating Bowtell in the tenth race.

Of the other fancied competitors, Mildenhall youngster Drew Kemp suffered a disastrous day with mechanical failure early in heat one before coming to grief on turn two in heat seven and then withdrawing from the meeting, whilst Max Clegg touched the tapes in his first ride.

After four rides apiece, Mountain led the way on 12 with Morley and Bowtell on 11, whilst Clegg and Jack Thomas had outside chances of a rostrum place having moved on to eight apiece.

Morley set the target with a win in heat 19, holding off a lively challenge from reserve Dan Gilkes, putting him on 14 points ahead of the Bowtell/Mountain clash with Clegg also involved in heat 20.

Bowtell gated from the inside whilst Mountain’s chances were left severely under threat as he was sent wide on turn two – and although he quickly passed Clegg, he couldn’t quite complete an overtaking move on Mark Baseby for the second place he required to set up a three-man run-off.

With Mountain confirmed in third overall, it was left to Morley and Bowtell to stage a thrilling run-off as Bowtell’s initial inside pass was thwarted by a rapid switch-back from Morley.

Off turn four Bowtell then picked up speed to round Morley but just as it seemed he had completed the move, he hit trouble on turn two and hit the fence at the start of the back straight.

Fortunately he was able to walk in unscathed, but Morley was awarded race victory and with it the Championship.

Said Morley: “I’m made up with that. We’ve been set up well all afternoon and I was happy with the inside gate for the run-off.

“Going up against Alfie was really tough. He’s been on fire this weekend and to be fair he might have won it if he hadn’t run in too hot on lap four.

“I’m also really pleased that we got a one two for the Warriors. Barry (Bishop) and everyone on the Island have been great to ride for and it’s nice to do this for them.”

Scores: Ben Morley 14 (after run-off), Alfie Bowtell 14, Connor Mountain 13, Jack Thomas 10, Tom Perry 8, Max Clegg 8, Mark Baseby 8, Georgie Wood 8, Ryan Kinsley 7, Nathan Stoneman 6, Jon Armstrong 6, Tom Woolley 5, Kyle Bickley 4, Henry Atkins 4, Dan Gilkes (res) 3, Sheldon Davies 1, Drew Kemp 0, Ben Woodhull (res) 0.

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