Peterborough Panthers star Charles Wright stormed to British Final glory last night (July 29).
The 30 year-old captured the crown for the first time with a stunning display at the National Speedway Stadium in Manchester - his local track.
Wright left three former winners - Huntingdon man Danny King, Craig Cook and Chris Harris - trailing in his wake in the Grand Final to cap a memorable night.
And the new champion, who also earned the wildcard for the British Grand Prix in September thanks to his triumph, then admitted in the immediate aftermath that he is not fully fit from a nasty crash while racing for Panthers a fortnight ago.
“It is unbelievable to be number one in Britain,” said Wright. “But I always believed I had the ability to win the title.
“I’ve been riding well all year and beating good riders regularly in league meetings. So why not in the British Final as well?
“I bounced back from an exclusion, got myself into the semi which I managed to win and then did the same in the final.
“I’m still not quite fit from the crash I had at Peterborough a couple of weeks ago. I’d say I’m about 90 per cent, but it feels okay when I’m on the bike.”
Wright certainly looked more than okay as he amassed 11 points in his five heats despite being on the receiving end of a harsh exclusion in his fourth ride.
That earned a spot in the semi-final, which he won with ease, but he saved his best until last in the final.
Wright squeezed round early leader Cook on the back straight of the first lap and once he hit the front there was only ever going to be one winner with King, the 2016 champion, also getting past Cook to take second spot.
Cook, who pulled out of riding for Panthers on the eve of the season, had to settle for third place with three-time former winner Harris bringing up the rear.
Panthers team boss Carl Johnson sung the praises of Wright, saying: “It was a fantastic performance from out stand-out rider of 2019.
“Charles is one of the nicest lads you’re ever likely to meet and puts his heat and soul into being the best speedway rider he can possibly be.
“He loves a moan, but his professionalism speaks for itself and there is no doubt he deserves to be British champion!”
The second Panthers representative, Scott Nicholls, finished on six points as he failed to add to his fine haul of seven British titles.
Wright and Nicholls both return to club duty on Thursday (August 1) when rock-bottom Panthers travel to table-topping Poole in the SGB Premiership.
Scores: Danny King 14, Craig Cook 12, Chris Harris 11, Charles Wright 11, Steve Worrall 11, Lewis Kerr 8, Rory Schlein 8, Richard Lawson 7, Josh Auty 7, Scott Nicholls 6, Edward Kennett 6, Danny Ayres 6, Paul Starke 6, Dan Bewley 3 (withdrawn), Kyle Newman 3, Simon Lambert 1, Kyle Bickley (res) 0, Leon Flint (res) 0.
SEMI-FINAL: Wright, Harris, Worrall, Kerr.
GRAND FINAL: Wright, King, Cook, Harris.