Speedway: Tai’s too hot with high five at Owlerton

Tigers Richard Hall leads Scott Nichols
Tigers Richard Hall leads Scott Nichols
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Grand Prix star Tai Woffinden showed why he is one of the most in-form riders in the world with a flawless display at Owlerton last night in the British Championship semi-final.

Woffinden is in the form of his life and he simply looked a class above anyone else, reeling off five imperious wins to top the rostrum and qualify for the final at his home track of Wolverhampton.

The Scunthorpe-based star was barely challenged all evening and the best of his quintet of victories came in heat 14 when he had to pass seven-time British Champion Scott Nicholls, which he did with ease.

Sheffield skipper Simon Stead had to pull out of the meeting on Thursday afternoon after failing to recover from his shoulder injury, but the Tigers were still represented by Richard Hall and Joe Haines in the 16-man lineup.

Hall was fast and consistent and he managed to qualify with 11 points but Haines missed the cut after failing to win his last race, which would’ve seen him through ahead of Nicholls.

Woffinden topped the pile with 15 and he was joined by experienced Rye House man Olly Allen, who made some outstanding starts all evening and was excellent value for his 11 points.

An enthusiastic Owlerton crowd were treated to some fantastic racing at times and it wasn’t plain sailing for some of the Elite League big boys who were made to work extremely hard for their points.

Nicholls, who was last year’s wildcard at the British Grand Prix, only secured his pass to the final by winning his last race and World Cup star Ben Barker was only on three points from three rides when he pulled out with an injury and in all likelihood, will miss out on a wildcard pick.

The top seven riders from this meeting made it through and local lad Ashley Birks also made it through on 10, using his considerable Owlerton experience to his advantage. Another ex-Tiger joining Birks in the Midlands on May 13 is Josh Auty, who looked back to his majestic best after some low-key displays recently at the Hillsborough circuit.

The third former Sheffield man to make it through was Chris Schramm, who was perhaps the most surprising qualifier.

n Scorers; Woffinden 15, Auty 12, Allen 11, Hall 11, Birks 10, Schramm 9, Nicholls 9, (all qualify) Haines 8 (qualifies as first reserve), Garrity 8, Newman 7, Howe 6, Perry 4, Barker 3, Branford 3, Mear 2, Sarjeant 2, Hopwood (reserve) 0.