Sweden’s Linus Sundstrom emerged a worthy, if unexpected winner of the re-staged Grand Prix Qualifier at Berwick on Monday.
In a field which also included riders of the calibre of Hans Andersen, Kenneth Bjerre, Chris Harris, Jason Doyle and the Polish pairing of Przemylsaw Pawlicki and Maciej Janowski, Sundstrom was an outsider, albeit with the pedigree to achieve one of the ten qualifying places on offer.
In his first race he was beaten by Andersen, and third time out he only managed a third, putting him on six points. But during the run-in he was drawn twice off the inside gate, and successive wins in his last two outings put him joint top of the pile with Doyle.
The pair finished on 12 points, Sundstrom having got the better of the Australian in the re-run of heat 18, passing him up the inside off the fourth bend, only minutes after the pair had locked together as they entered the first corner.
In the run-off to see who finished top of the podium, Sundstrom, again off the inside gate, was first into the first turn and was never headed.
In an earlier run-off for third, Janowski got the drop on Andersen into the first bend off the outside, both riders having finished on 11 points.
On a night when gating was all-important, passing after the second bend was at a premium, and it was Andersen in heat 13, Janowski in 17 and Sundstrom in 18 (against Doyle) who provided the only overtakes.
But that did not detract from the quality of the racing, which at times was fast and close.
Home star David Bellego, drafted in as a late replacement for fellow Frenchman Mathieu Tresarrieu, got the home support on his side by holding off Harris for second place behind Doyle in heat one, and although he never won a race, the Bandit was a comfortable qualifier on nine points, scoring each time he was out.
Also on nine were Bjerre, who was the only unbeaten rider after the first two rounds of heats, and Pawlicki, although the fancied Pole must have had an anxious few moments when back to back last places in his second and third rides left him with only three points after the third rotation.
He was in danger of being a high profile casualty, but managed to recover with two wins in his final two outings to safely make it through.
Also gaining qualification, all on eight points, were Harris, and fellow Brits Craig Cook and Lewis Bridger, who was an initial reserve who replaced the unavailable Austrian Daniel Gappmaier.
Of those, Bridger and Cook both won a race apiece, whilst Harris, whose gating wasn’t at its best, made it through courtesy of three second places and two thirds.
Of the non-qualifiers, Berwick’s own Matej Kus and fellow Czech Tomas Suchanek both managed to win one race apiece.