Sheffield all but booked a place in the Knockout Cup quarter-finals but a comfortable 44-28 victory was marred by gut-wrenching injuries to two visiting riders.
Redcar’s Ben Barker and ex-Tiger Jack Parkinson-Blackburn, a guest for the visitors on the night, collided on turn four and required hospital treatment.
Both suffered suspected collarbone injuries with Barker carried into an ambulance on a spinal board as a precaution. The meeting was abandoned after the delays went beyond the 10pm curfew.
After a shaky start, the Sheffield Window Centre Tigers took a firm grip on proceedings with seven straight heat advantages ahead of the return at Redcar tonight (7.30).
Redcar reserve Mikkel B Andersen held off Kyle Howarth’s incessant pressure to win a shared race and then gated in the reserve race with colleague Jordan Stewart getting around the outside to lead a Bears 5-1.
Lasse Bjerre hit the front from the gate in heat three but was passed by Matej Kus only for Jan Graversen to claw back a 3-3 by the end of the first lap of the third.
Charles Wright seized control of heat four by turn two with James Shanes splitting his rivals to halve Sheffield deficit.
Bjerre led comfortably led throughout what looked like a Tigers maximum until Barker passed Graversen to temporarily prevent the Bears from falling behind.
Howarth and Kurtz gated in both attempts at heat six, the latter edging out Mikkel B Andersen by hitting the dirt line down the back straight in a first home maximum of the night.
Wright won his second from the gate before Kurtz produced the ride of the night, a rip-roaring blast around the outside to go from third to first and sail off into the sunset in heat eight.
Bjerre led heat nine from the off with Graversen battling past Mikkel B Andersen for third.
Howarth’s pursuit of the outside run was stifled by leader Kus at the start of the 10th but he soon got by followed by Kurtz on lap two for another 5-1.
Sheffield’s winning run came to an end but Wright’s third chequered flag out of three was all too easy despite Smith finishing stone last in the 11th.
The tenacious Graversen eventually passed Mikkel B Andersen to triumph in the 12th before the horror of heat 13 unfolded.
The Tigers head to Teesside for the second leg with a full one-to-seven.
Sheffield 44: Charles Wright 9, Todd Kurtz 8+3, Lasse Bjerre 8, Kyle Howarth 8, Jan Graversen 6+1, James Shanes 4, Jack Smith 1.
Redcar 28: Jordan Stewart 10+1, Mikkel B Andersen 8+1, Matej Kus 5, Ben Barker 4, Jonas B Andersen 1, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 0, Tobias Busch r/r.