NEW British Speedway Champion Danny King has booked his place at the British FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Cardiff next month with a brilliant battling victory in Manchester on Monday, reports Observer speedway reporter Robin Allen.
The Coventry Bees and Ipswich star was crowned national champion for the first time after beating Belle Vue favourite Craig Cook and teenage sensation Robert Lambert.
King’s victory earns him one of the hottest tickets in the sport – the famous No.16 wild card race jacket at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
The Great Britain international has served as track reserve at the event in previous years, but this time he’ll be taking five rides against the sport’s finest as he joins double world champion Tai Woffinden and Cornwall’s Chris Harris in flying the British flag.
An elated King said: “It’s mad. I don’t know what to say. I’m so shocked. Everything was a blur.
“Once I hit the front, I just remember trying to keep my head down and ride the outside because I knew no-one was going to pass me on the inside. I didn’t look back. It’s a lot to take in. I feel quite humble. It’s an amazing feeling.
“I’ve been reserve a couple of times and I’ve always wanted to get out there and try it. I’ve never had the opportunity.
“I came to Manchester hoping to become British champion, and at the same time I’ve become wild card for Cardiff. It’s a dream come true.”
It was a richly deserved triumph on a rain-soaked track as King headed the qualifying scores with 13 points from five rides on a night where no rider was able to completely dominate the meeting.
But King would in fact have only dropped one point from five rides had not Heat 16 been stopped when King had the beating of Scott Nicholls, only for Jason Garrity to fall on the third lap with Nicholls winning the re-run.
However, King’s win in Heat 20 took him into the Final as top qualifier and he selected gate two to give him more options against Craig Cook on his inside, and semi-final qualifiers Robert Lambert and Steve Worrall.
It turned out to be the right move as King swept around early leader Cook on turns three and four in treacherous conditions and then charged clear to take the biggest victory of his career.
King added: “I know it was raining hard and there was a lot of rain on my goggles, and I knew I just had to go for it and it was either going to work or it wasn’t.
“I didn’t know how far in front I was, I just kept looking out for the chequered flag and when I saw the yellow and black flag I was thinking ‘oh no, another lap!’ I just kept going, got there and it’s just mad really – I don’t know what to say!”
However, it was far from a happy night for the Bees’ other competitors, with Chris Harris unable to add to his three titles as he failed to make the semi-final on five points.
That was a total matched by Jason Garrity after his first two rides, but he failed to score again and was concerned by an arm injury in the Heat 16 spill which caused him to miss his final ride. Josh Bates, meanwhile, scored two points on his British Final debut.
King will be paraded at Brandon prior to the Bees’ home fixture against King’s Lynn on Friday.