New Peterborough Panthers rider Charles Wright enjoyed an excellent start to his 2019 season yesterday (March 17)
Winter signing Wright finished second in the Ben Fund Bonanza individual meeting held at Leicester – the traditional curtain-raiser to the British campaign.
And Wright was only denied victory in the final by a man who raced for the city club last season . . . seven-time British champion Scott Nicholls who now races for Leicester in the SGB Championship.
Wright won three of his opening four qualifying races and finished second behind Huntingdon-based Danny King – who was later third in the final – in the other outing.
He then secured a direct passage into the final when third behind Nicholls and Josh Bates in heat 19 and again followed in former Grand Prix racer Nicholls in the showpiece race.
Fellow Panthers man Ben Barker saw his challenge for glory fizzle out following a bright start.
Barker collected five points from his first two heats before being excluded from heat 12 for breaking the starting tapes.
He was then able to add only one more point from his two remaining rides to finish on six in his return to the saddle after a badly broken arm and dislocated shoulder ended his 2018 campaign early.
Panthers team boss Carl Johnson said: “Charles looked really quick from the off and rode very well.
“Gate four almost worked a treat for him in the final and he had Scott under pressure for all four laps.
“Ben started with a fantastic ride but the tapes exclusion really put paid to his hopes and it was clear he was struggling with the strength in his arm in his last two rides.
“He just needs more time on the bike to get that back.”
Panthers begin their SGB Premiership season with a home clash in the Supporters’ Cup against Belle Vue on April 1.
BEN FUND BONANZA
SCORES: Scott Nicholls 13, Danny King 12, Charles Wright 12, Josh Bates 11, Sam Masters 10, Ryan Douglas 9, Richie Worrall 9, Paul Starke 8, Lewis Kerr 6, Ben Barker 6, Kasper Andersen 6, Zaine Kennedy 5, Connor Mountain (res) 4, Ellis Perks (res) 4, Ulrich Ostergaard 3, Jedd List 2, Nick Morris 0, Josh Auty 0.
SEMI-FINAL: Masters, Worrall, Douglas, Bates (ret)
FINAL: Nicholls, Wright, King, Masters (ret)