REDCAR Bears prospect Ben Morley was pipped to victory in the Julie Lewis Memorial Trophy meeting final – then revealed he feared he might not even get as far as the track the night before.
Morley joint top-scored in the heats in the annual stars of tomorrow parade at the Media Prima Arena with 11 points before winning his semi-final, then finishing second in the final to Cradley skipper Max Clegg- the only rider to lower his colours all night.
But Morley, who lives 285 miles away in Southend, was left wondering how he’d be able to make the marathon trek after his van broke down earlier in the week.
Fortunately however he found a mechanic who was prepared to work through the night to fix it and his parents went to collect it at 3am on raceday so it would be ready to load up in time for them to set off for Teesside.
“We have to leave at 10.30am to come up here,” said Morley. “and I had nothing else. I was calling people round to see if they had a van but no-one could sort anything out.
“The mechanic worked wonders on it and worked all through the night, then rang my mum and dad at 3 o’clock in the morning and they went and got it.
“It was just a relief that it was ready because otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. We were looking at renting but they wanted stupid money – there wouldn’t have even been any point in coming up because it would have cost me so much money.”
It was obvious from early on that Morley – who lines up for the Ecco Finishing Bears in the Premier League at Edinburgh on Friday – and Clegg would be the men to beat.
And Morley knew he had a formidable opponent in Clegg when he made the gate in heat five, only to be powerless to prevent the Heathens star form storming to the front.
Clegg’s only defeat came in heat 10 when he found himself snuffed out at the start and though he battled past Stoke’s Lee Payne, he couldn’t catch winner Danny Ayres of Kent.
Late replacement Rob Shuttleworth was the other stand-out rider in the heats, winning three times but falling in his third outing.
Teessider Danny Phillips was involved in one of the best races of an entertaining meeting, dicing with Stefan Farnaby for second place and eventually diving through on the inside to take two points.
Redcar Cubs captain Ben Basford was given the chance to test himself against some useful National League performers and didn’t disgrace himself with three points from his four rides. Compare this to his performance in last year’s meeting when he was thrown in at the deep end and it’s clear to see the progress he has made.
All four finalists had routine passages to the trophy showdown, where the fast-gating Clegg hit the front straight away followed by Buxton’s Liam Carr, Morley and Shuttleworth,
Morley tried desperately to find a way round Carr and when that didn’t succeed he switched to the inside. The move paid off and he got past but was unable to catch Clegg although he certainly seemed to be making ground with the chequered flag in sight.
Trophies for the night were provided by The Gazette.
Qualifying Scores: Max Clegg 11, Ben Morley 11, Rob Shuttleworth 9, Liam Carr 9, Lee Payne 7, Danny Ayres 7, Connor Coles 4, Michael Neale 4, Ben Basford 3, Danny Phillips 3, Adam Extance 2, Stephan Farnaby 1
Semi-final 1: Clegg, Shuttleworth, Ayres, Coles.
Semi-final 2: Morley, Carr, Neale, Payne.
Final: Clegg, Morley, Carr, Shuttleworth.
MORE from Ben Morley in Saturday’s Gazette and on http://www.GazetteLive.co.uk