SIMON Stead put in an impressive performance before eventually losing out in the race-off at the British Final in Wolverhampton tonight.
The Swindon rider never finished outside the top two as he made his way into the semi-final with a top six finish in the qualifying heats at Monmore Green, but found himself stuck behind Chris Harris and Tai Woffinden as he was squeezed out of a place in the final which was eventually won by former Robin Scott Nicholls for a record seventh time.
Stead looked on the pace in his first outing as he made a decent start leading into the first corner, but was eventually squeezed out into third at a track which does not rank as one of his favourites.
But the Yorkshireman hit back to pass Craig Cook, and although the Belle Vue Aces and Edinburgh Monarchs man eventually found a way through, Stead took second place back on the final lap to open up with two points.
The Swindon man missed the start in his second ride in heat six, but got the drive around the inside of bend two to pass Ricky Ashworth for second place behind runaway leader Edward Kennett.
Stead led from the start of his third ride to claim an easy victory, and moved onto seven points for the night as he placed himself right in the hunt for the wildcard spot at British Grand Prix at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium on August 25.
A slice of luck in heat 15 saw the Robin pick up another two points, as both Harris and Adam Roynon packed up to allow him through to strengthen his hold on a place in the top six.
The 30-year-old hit the deck in heat 17 as he went into the back of Tom Perry, who was excluded after over-locking, but picked himself up in the re-run to score another two points to secure his place in the semi-final.
Stead went off gate two in the shoot-out, and after missing the start fought his way past Ben Barker but couldn’t couldn’t catch Harris and Woffinden who booked their places in the final.
Kennett was excluded in the decider after hitting the deck on the fourth bend of lap one, and in the re-run Nicholls made the gate and fought off the attentions of Harris to become the most successful rider in the history of the event.