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Speedway: Even the rain can't spoil legend's night
LEGEND is a term bandied around all too readily these days.
But for those that braved the wind and rain to turn out at Wimborne Road last night, legend is the only way to describe Gary Havelock.
This is a man who truly earned a farewell meeting, a send-off fittingly reflective of nearly three decades of service to British speedway on both the domestic and international stage.
It is a telling statistic that nine of the 14 riders on show were not even born when Havelock began his speedway career at Middlesbrough in 1985.
The racing life of the County Durham-born man was lengthy and wide-ranging, taking in countless clubs at home and abroad over a period of 28 years.
He racked up innumerable team and individual honours - including a world title at Wroclaw in 1992 – and represented England and Great Britain with distinction.
Winning two British titles, one European junior title and the Elite League with Bradford are a small handful of the achievements that the 45-year-old has to his name.
Fitting then to show appreciation at the club where he spent five seasons between 1998 and 2002, scoring 1,423 points and captaining the side in the process.
In conditions that could generously be described as extremely slick, a selection of the world’s top riders did their utmost to get the meeting done and by extension, pay their own tributes to the racing career of the now Coventry team manager.
Having already overcome a date clash with the Elite Riders’ Championship, the meeting looked in serious doubt ahead of the re-run of heat seven, when a torrential downpour battered the circuit.
However, a quarter of an hour later the rain relented and the action resumed, allowing Mark Loram’s septet to eventually take a 43-41 victory over Tony Rickardsson’s team.
Richie Worrall was the surprise package for Ricko’s Raiders as he totalled 10 points from five rides, while opposing number ones Ward and Chris Holder were predictably strong on nine points each.
The highest-scoring riders qualified for the individual semis, with Ward – recovered from engine gremlins during his first heat of the night – advancing alongside fellow Turbo Twin Holder.
Craig Cook ploughed through the tapes in the second semi before the flying Worrall and Maciej Janowski surprisingly ousted two-time world champion Greg Hancock in the re-run.
Ward gave the Poole fans plenty to shout about in the final as he came from behind to nip past Janowski on the back straight of lap three, clipping his 2014 team-mate in the process, before comfortably holding on to win.
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