Nicholls misses out in thrilling final
SCOTT Nicholls came agonisingly close to being crowned Elite League Riders' Champion at Sheffield last night. The brilliant Witches prospect gave Grand Prix star Jason Crump a real run for his money in a top-drawer final before bowing to a breathtaking defeat.
SCOTT Nicholls came agonisingly close to being crowned Elite League Riders' Champion at Sheffield last night.
The brilliant Witches prospect gave Grand Prix star Jason Crump a real run for his money in a top-drawer final before bowing to a breathtaking defeat.
Nicholls, off gate two, was pushed wide by Crump on the first two turns, but had enough speed to come under the King's Lynn rider to spark a furious battle that saw the Aussie finally find a wide line around the Ipswich man on the final lap.
Nicholls said: "I stuck to the inside and he came around me, but if I had gone wide he would have probably come under me.
"I have mixed feelings about the night. I am happy to have finished second but I am bitterly disappointed not to have won the final."
Witches team-mate Craig Boyce also reached the semi-final when he was one of four riders to finish on nine points after 20 heats – qualifying by virtue of more race wins than Lee Richardson and Ryan Sullivan – but a third in the repecharge race meant he missed out on the final.
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Nicholls had opened with a win in heat two, with Boyce trailing at the back in the same race, but he was left in third place behind Richardson and Jason Lyons in heat five.
Boyce recovered from his first race blob to gate ahead of Crump in heat eight. But his Antipodean compatriot managed to pass him going into the second lap and Boyce then lost second place as well as Mark Loram nibbled away to pull off an inside move.
Nicholls produced a sublime first turn to see off the challenge of Sullivan to collect a second win in heat 10, and Boyce then won heat 11 with a flying start that saw off Richardson.
Boyce also shot away off the unfavoured gate to lead heat 14 but was put under pressure by Nicki Pedersen and the combative young Dane sneaked through an impossible gap against the fence on the last lap.
Heat 15 was a big one with Nicholls on the outside, Tony Rickardsson off gate three and Crump on the inside.
Crump continued his mastery with a fourth win, but Nicholls got around Krzysztof Cegielski for second as Rickardsson trailed at the back. Poole comrade Cegielski slowed to allow the World Champion elect to steal a point on the line but the Swede finished last in heat 17 – won by Boyce – and Nicholls then ensured his place in the final by firing away to collect the honours in heat 20.
Crump reclaimed the title he won two years ago in an exciting grand final and reflected on his victory with modesty.
"It's good you know," said the 26-year-old King's Lynn star. "It's obviously a hard meeting to win and it's always good to come away with a win. It's been a good night.
"I'm disappointed I didn't win all five of my heats, that's the way it goes but there's only one race you have to win in the end.
"I thought I had made a mistake on the first lap as I did not go wide enough, but after the first lap I felt pretty confident and was not going to go anywhere apart from wide."
ELRC qualifying scores: Jason Crump (King's Lynn) 14, Scott Nicholls (Ipswich) 12, Nicki Pedersen (King's Lynn) 11, Mikael Karlsson (Wolverhampton) 11, Craig Boyce (Ipswich) 9, Tony Rickardsson (Poole) 9, Lee Richardson (Coventry) 9, Ryan Sullivan (Peterborough) 9, Leigh Adams (Oxford) 8, Mark Loram (Peterborough) 7, Sam Ermolenko (Wolverhampton) 7, Jason Lyons (Belle Vue) 6, Dean Barker (Eastbourne) 4, Krzysztof Cegielski (Poole) 3, Steve Johnston (Oxford) 0, David Norris (Eastbourne) 0 Reserves: David Howe (Peterborough) 1, Paul Lee (Coventry) 0.
Owlerton heat details – 1: Sullivan, Barker, Cegielski, Norris 61.6.
2: Nicholls, Ermolenko, Adams, Boyce 62.0
3: Rickardsson, Richardson, Pedersen, Loram 62.7
4: Crump, Karlsson, Lyons, Johnston 61.7
5: Richardson, Lyons, Nicholls, Barker 62.0
6: Rickardsson, Adams, Sullivan, Johnston 61.5
7: Pedersen, Karlsson, Ermolenko, Cegielski (ret) 62.8
8: Crump, Loram, Boyce, Norris (ef) 63.2
9: Crump, Pedersen, Adams, Barker 61.4
10: Nicholls, Karlsson, Sullivan, Loram (ret) 63.3
11: Boyce, Richardson, Cegielski, Johnston 63.5
12: Lyons, Rickardsson, Ermolenko, Norris (ef) 63.9
13: Loram, Ermolenko, Barker, Johnston 62.6
14: Pedersen, Boyce, Sullivan, Lyons 63.1
15: Crump, Nicholls, Rickardsson, Cegielski 62.1
16: Karlsson, Richardson, Adams, Lee 63.5
17: Boyce, Karlsson, Barker, Rickardsson 62.2
18: Sullivan, Crump, Ermolenko, Richardson 62.6
19: Adams, Loram, Cegielski, Lyons (ef) 63.3
20: Nicholls, Pedersen, Howe, Johnston 63.2
Semi-final: Pedersen, Karlsson, Boyce, Rickardsson 62.3
Final: Crump, Nicholls, Pedersen, Karlsson 62.1