Toft triumphs In Craven Memorial at Belle Vue

MICHAEL Palm Toft added his name to a growing list of prestigious victors after winning the 2022 ATPI Peter Craven Memorial on Monday night. 

He became only the third Danish rider to win Belle Vue’s flagship event, with Kenneth Bjerre racing to victory in 2017 and triple world champion Ole Olsen likewise in 1969 and 1971.

Michael Palm-Toft with Robert Craven during the ATPI Peter Craven Memorial Trophy at the National Speedway Stadium (Credit: Ian Charles | MI News)

A closely contested meeting saw no outright favourite for the victory, with one of the strongest fields ever assembled in contention for the title.

Palm Toft was a late entry into the line-up after the withdrawal of German racer Norick Blödorn due to the prolonged process of obtaining his work visa.

But the club’s choice of replacement was a popular one with fans, who turned out in droves to welcome in the new Speedway season in Manchester.

ATPI Aces captain Brady Kurtz and club No.1 Max Fricke impressed with their electric form to make it through to the big grand finale, along with King’s Lynn’s Niels-Kristian Iversen.

But after scoring 11 points in his qualifying races, it was a showdown between Palm Toft, Matej Zagar and Tai Woffinden in the eye-popping six-rider grand finale.

The six rider final during the ATPI Peter Craven Memorial Trophy at the National Speedway Stadium (Credit: Ian Charles | MI News)

Palm Toft said: “There are some big names on this trophy and to win isn’t something I expected, but it feels amazing to say that I have.

“I don’t go into any meeting without wanting to win and when I got the call yesterday, I wasn’t coming in just to make up the numbers.

“I knew I’d have to make every race count in a field like this and I think it paid off in the best way, and I’m delighted to start my season off on a high.

“The track definitely changed as the night went on. In the final I was wondering what to do about gate choice because everyone had been chasing the fence.

“But I thought I’d take a chance on Gate 2 and it turned out very well. I’ve never done a 6-rider final before and it was a little intimidating.

“But the track is so big and so wide here, and all the boys had a lot of respect so we felt very comfortable lining up so close together.

“It’s not quite sunk in yet. It is a very prestigious meeting and there are riders who’ve won this trophy who’ve gone on to do great things.

“It’s a very special feeling and I’m delighted I had the chance to be a part of it.”

Belle Vue commence team competition next Monday, March 28 in Premiership League Cup action, against the Sheffield Tigers, at the National Speedway Stadium.

Tickets available now at bellevue-speedway.com.

 

RESULT – 2022 ATPI PETER CRAVEN MEMORIAL – MONDAY, MARCH 28 

QUALIFYING SCORERS: Matej Zagar 12, Michael Palm Toft 11, Brady Kurtz 9, Niels Kristian Iversen 9, Tai Woffinden 9, Max Fricke 9, Dan Bewley 9, Nicolai Kilndt 8, Chris Harris 7, Robert Lambert 7, Tom Brennan 7, Charles Wright 7, Jason Doyle 6, Tobiasz Musielak 4, Jye Etheridge 4, Adam Ellis 2

SEMI-FINAL (5 riders): Woffinden, Iversen, Fricke, Klindt, Bewley.

GRAND FINAL (6 riders): Toft, Zagar, Woffinden, Kurtz, Iversen, Fricke.

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