Sedgmen wins Scottish Open to kick-start speedway season

Justin Sedgmen celebrates with the trophy after a thrilling final heat. Picture: Ron MacNeill

Justin Sedgmen celebrates with the trophy after a thrilling final heat. Picture: Ron MacNeill

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Justin Sedgmen made a triumphant return to Armadale Stadium last night to lift the Scottish Open Championship for the first time in his career.

In the Grand Final race-off Sedgmen was up against Erik Riss, Ricky Wells, and Rory Schlein.

And for all the world it looked as if Riss would triumph. The German made a good gate and led comfortably, but he made a mistake coming out of the second bend which allowed Sedgmen through.

Said Sedgmen: “Eric was riding good and I thought he had won it. But he just made a slight mistake coming out of the bend and I seized my chance.

“It’s such a prestigious title to win when you look at some of the past winners. I’m delighted to have won it.”

Riss said: “I’m a bit gutted to lose it when I had in my grasp but these things happen in speedway.”

Heavy overnight rain that lingered into the afternoon didn’t do that much damage to the track which looked in remarkable shape prior to tapes up.

There was a very late withdrawal when Somerset’s Josh Grajczonek was replaced by ex-Monarchs skipper Theo Pijper. This was in addition to Ipswich Witches star Kyle Newman who pulled out with a shoulder injury earlier in the week.

All seven Monarchs were competing but some were doubtless using the meeting as a fine-tuning exercise prior to their opening league match of the season against Scunthorpe Scorpions next Friday.

For new signing Josh Pickering this was his first competitive meeting on what will be his home track for the next seven months. After an impressive display in last week’s practice session when he looked more than capable he didn’t disgrace himself against some top opposition in what was one of the strongest Scottish Open fields since it was last held in 2014.

And he was out in the very first heat against Glasgow Tigers duo Aaron Summers and Richard Lawson. He led the race for more than three laps before losing control on the first and second bends. But it was great debut and Pickering looks nerveless.

Said Pickering: “I made a good gate and felt comfortable in front then my back wheel went away from me on the first bend which I was a bit miffed about, but I was pleased with my first ride overall.”

Unfortunately Pickering’s next ride was just as hard and he finished in fourth place but he was getting valuable track time and the experience of racing against solid opposition can only do him good.

But Pickering atoned for these early failures by winning heat 14 in stunning style.

Teammate Max Clegg had a tough first ride against defending champ Sam Masters, Ricky Wells, and Sedgmen, and finished well back and appeared to lack speed to a degree.

And frankly Clegg didn’t fare much better in his next outing overhauling his Monarchs teammate Mitchell Davey for third place. But Clegg was probably blowing away some winter cobwebs and hopefully will come good once the league programme begins next week.

Davey had little luck in his opening ride when he retired against Mark Riss, Ulrich Ostergaard, and Rory Schlein, but in Davey’s defence it was another hot race.

One Monarch who got off to a flier was Mark Riss’s younger brother Eric who won his first three rides in tremendous style and put himself well in the frame for title glory but was disqualified in heat 16.

But Masters’ hopes of lifting the title for a second time suffered a setback in heat 11 when he trailed in last but he won his next two races to put himself back in contention but lost his crown when he was beaten in the semi final.