Heavy crash costs Sheffield rider Ricky the title

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SHEFFIELD TIGERS’ Ricky Ashworth suffered heartbreak in his bid to win his second major title in three years.

The Owlerton star believes a heavy smash in Heat 16 put paid to his chances of claiming the Premier League Riders’ Championship in front of his home fans last night.

He finished runner-up to Australian teenager Sam Masters after picking himself up following a dramatic crash in his fourth ride.

The 2009 winner was excluded when he slid off behind team-mate Shane Parker, costing him three points and first pick of start position in the sudden death final.

He said: “I was really fast all day but the crash, where I obviously didn’t score, cost me first choice of gates.

“I would only have ever picked gate one, but I was left with two and I just couldn’t quite get there.

“It was a great race, I wouldn’t have been any more disappointed to finish third but to grab second like that, I’ll take that all day long.

“It would have been nice to win it but we’ve got a lot more of these meetings to come.”

Ashworth won four of his five qualifying races to go straight to the final but could never make up enough ground to overhaul eventual winner Masters, but finished ahead of Finland’s Kauko Nieminen and Great Britain World Cup star Ben Barker to claim a podium finish.

There was no fairytale ending for Tigers’ skipper Shane Parker, who retires at the end of the season after a 22-year British career, as he crashed out of the competition in the qualifying stages.

The pre-meeting favourite was plagued by mechanical gremlins and managed only eight points from his five qualifying heats.

A disappointed Parker said: “It was a nightmare, to be honest. I had bike problems right from the very start and I have no idea what went wrong.”