NIGEL GREEN won the opening final of the 2017 season at Belle Vue with a last-bend attack on leader Stuart Smith Jnr.
The weather played its part, making the track treacherous for the first half of the meeting at the Manchester track, in which Smith Jnr set the pace to win the first heat of the new season, ahead of Danny Wainman and Craig Finnikin.
Yellow-grader Karl Roberts, who finished fourth in heat one, took the lead early on in heat two and was never headed.
Superstar Green, from Leicestershire, had a quiet start to the meeting, failing to finish the opening heat, and followed up with a fourth-placed finish in heat two.
In the final, Roberts led until the yellow flags came out during the last quarter of the race. It wasn’t long before Smith Jr took the lead, but a puncture to his outside rear tyre slowed his progress in the closing stages and Green seized his chance on the final lap, pushing his rival wide on the final bend to take the win.
“I managed to get underneath Stuart mid-corner and nerf him wide and on to the wet stuff,” said Green.
Smith Jnr managed to recover to finish second, with Roberts third. “The puncture happened with three laps to go,” said Smith Jnr. “It was just bad luck. Again.”
Roberts finished off a successful evening with a second win on the night in the Grand National, ahead of Finnikin and Smith Jnr.
World champion Frankie Wainman Jnr had a meeting he’d rather forget. Having hot-footed it from Buxton, where daughter Phoebe had been racing her V8 Hotstox during the afternoon, he arrived in time to finish fifth in his first heat.
“I went to Buxton because Phoebe was racing her Hotstox with a new engine,” Wainman Jnr said. “I’d rather be there to oversee that before heading to Belle Vue.”
Third in the second heat, Wainman Jnr half spun during the early stages of the final and was turned round by race winner Green. By the time of the yellow flag, Wainman Jnr was already a lap down to leader Roberts, He finished the night with a ninth-place finish in the Grand National.