Eighteen of the finest young riders from around the globe gathered at Shielfield to contest the second round of the World U-21 Championship.
Pole Piotr Pawlicki took the win on the night but with the raw, talented youngsters literally charging and barging for vital world title points, standards were high.
A re-run first heat saw Pawlicki take an easy win in the year’s fastest time, 63.7 seconds. The then championship leader Patryk Dudek of Poland made light work of heat two, while in heat three Bandit David Bellego got his chance and made the best gate but coming off bend two was overhauled at frightening speed by Dane Mikkel Bech Jensen.
Workington’s Kyle Howarth surprised everyone by jetting away in the re-run and took a solid victory to join Pawlicki, Dudek and Bech Jensen in the leaders’ paddock after one race for all competitors.
Heat eight ended up the most amazing two laps ever seen around Shielfield Park with Vaclav Milik well out in front, and behind him Bech Jensen and Andzejs Lebedevs, who were battling hard with some great moves. The Latvian rounded both his opponents at speed, leaving fans completely breathless. After the eighth heat only Dudek and Pawlicki remained unbeaten.
In heat nine Bellego tried to pass Lebedevs but on the third bend the door was closed on the Bandit and both fell, with the Latvian being deemed the cause of the crash. In the re-run Bellego, despite carrying an arm injury from the accident, took the three points.
Tweedmouth schoolboy Liam Carr got the chance of his life when Jensen shattered the tapes to be excluded from heat 13 and was replaced by the local lad who initially gated ahead of the big names.
With one race each to go Howarth and Pawlicki led with nine points each. The latter and Dudek met in heat 18 and Pawlicki won the bravest of moves against his fellow Pole Dudek to take the three points to go on 12, with only Howarth capable of matching him, so it was all on heat 20.
Howarth tried his socks off but had to settle for third, with Milik taking the win to score 11 points, tied with Kacper Gomolski for second place to force a run-off – but the gold was Pawlicki’s. Gomolski went on to take second place.
Club co-owner John Anderson was amazed by what he’d seen, saying: “I’ve never seen speedway like that before! It was amazing to see these young men – let’s remember all under 21 with a lot more progress to make – produce racing of that high standard and quality.”