REDCAR Bears ace Jan Graversen stunned the big guns to win the South Tees Silver Helmet.
The Danish battler held off a determined effort from Ecco Finishing Bears skipper Aaron Summers to clinch victory in the final by the narrowest of margins.
It’s fair to say that Graversen wasn’t among the favourites for the famous old title, first competed for at Cleveland Park back in 1928.
Guest of honour Tai Woffinden, the current world champion, was still signing autographs when Graversen won his opening race ahead of Hugh Skidmore – who had looked a good bet for the trophy during the heats – and Summers.
A pair of last places looked to have scuppered his chances but a second place in his final heat changed all that.
It meant he finished on five points, the same as team-mates Rafal Konopka and 2012 winner Carl Wilkinson but with only one of them able to take the last qualifying place for the semi-finals.
First it went to race wins, which eliminated Konopka. Wilkinson and Graversen had both won once each but the latter finished ahead of his rival when they met in heat 12 so through he went.
Skidmore had topped the scorecharts after the heats with nine points but his night ended when he finished at the back in the first semi-final.
Thomas Jorgensen won that one ahead of Ludvig Lindgren, a late replacement for Kenneth Hansen, meaning that Bears No 1 Richard Lawson also went out.
Lawson had made a slow start to the meeting but won his final two heats, anxiously looking behind him as he took the chequered flag in the second of those after his fuel line came adrift.
Graversen won the second semi-final from the tapes but all the action was going in behind him.
Robert Lambert, who recorded two impressive wins in the heats but also needed the attention of the paramedics after a heavy heat four fall, held off Summers until the final lap when the Bears captain’s determination and perseverance paid off and he found a way past.
Summers almost did it again in the final and his reaction after crossing the line clearly showed he thought he’d done it, but he was unable to get past Graversen who clung on by the skin of his teeth.
Behind them Lindgren took the final podium place, with Thomas Jorgensen fourth.
Qualifying scores: Hugh Skidmore 9, Ulrich Ostergaard 8, Ludvig Lindgren 8, Aaron Summers 8, Robert Lambert 7, Richard Lawson 7, Thomas Jorgensen 6, Jan Graversen 5, Carl Wilkinson 5, Rafal Konopka 5, Mark Lemon 3, Danny Ayres 1.
Semi-final one: Jorgensen, Lindgren, Lawson, Skidmore.
Semi-final two: Graversen, Summers, Lambert, Ostergaard.
Final: Graversen, Summers, Lindgren, Jorgensen.