SHEFFIELD skipper Ricky Ashworth overcame a first-race disqualification to make it through to the British Final from last night’s semi at Owlerton.
But there was heartbreak for his Tigers team-mate Josh Auty, who had the Wolverhampton showpiece in his sights only to shed a chain on the last bend when comfortably leading his final ride, leaving him agonisingly short of the cut.
Whilst five-times British Champion Scott Nicholls enjoyed an untroubled progression to Monmore Green, dropping his only point to Richard Hall in Heat 6, it was an altogether more nervous night for his great rival Chris Harris.
The Grand Prix star, who has taken the overall title in the last two seasons, was in big danger of missing out on an automatic qualifying place for the final when he had just four points on the board from his first three rides.
Harris did manage to turn things around by winning his last two rides, and he went safely through along with the other Elite League regulars.
Daniel King made an impressive comeback from a recent back injury with a solid 11 point haul, while Ben Barker finished with 13 points and second place on the rostrum.
Ashworth came to grief from the outside gate in a tight start to Heat 4, and his resultant disqualification put him under pressure to make the top seven.
However, he moved Jordan Frampton aside to win his second outing before notching second places behind former Sheffield star Hall, and then Barker next time out, to move back into contention.
And a second place in his final ride, after a good battle with Harris, was enough to take him through to the final on June 6.
Auty, meanwhile, won two races but was also left to rue an earlier breakdown in a tough Heat 11 when he looked set for a point at the expense of Harris. The Heat 18 stoppage, though, cost him dear.
Hall, who is riding well with Leicester this season, was a deserved qualifier on 11 points having had to settle for the reserve berth last year.
Nicholls won Heat 20 to make sure of overall victory in the meeting, with Frampton moving on to nine points ahead of the unfortunate Auty, who will have to be content with a reserve position in the final.
SCORES: Scott Nicholls 14, Ben Barker 13, Richard Hall 11, Daniel King 11, Chris Harris 10, Ricky Ashworth 9, Jordan Frampton 9 (all qualify), Josh Auty 7, Ritchie Hawkins 6, James Wright 5, Kyle Newman 5,, Luke Bowen 5, Andrew Tully 4, Derek Sneddon 4, Ashley Birks (res) 3, Paul Cooper 3, Craig Cook 1.