World speedway champion Jason Doyle will lead the Highbridge-based Somerset Rebels into play-off semi-final action tonight (Monday) as the newly crowned Czech Golden Helmet champion.
Doyle, who is seeded to the quarter-final groupings, began his rides at the 70th staging of the prestigious event with a fourth place, in the six-man races but followed that up with a third place and a race win from his group which included Gleb Cugonov, Rohan Tungate, Matej Zagar, Robert Lambert and Antonio Lindback.
With each rider discounting their lowest score from the trio of heats, the top three progressed into the semi-finals – Zagar and Lindback being the other two qualifiers from Doyle’s group.
Unlike Doyle, fellow Rebels Nico Covatti and Jack Holder had to earn their places in the quarter final stages. Covatti came through his qualifying group which included Jan Kvech, Zdenek Holub, Tobias Busch, Gleb Cugonov and Stanislav Melnicuk with a win and second place, and proceeded to qualify from his quarter final group (Vaclav Milik, Jurica Pavlic, Michele Paco Castagna, Frederik Lindgren and Anders Thomsen), courtesy of another win and second place.
Jack Holder ensured his place in the quarters with a win and third from his qualifying group (Alessandro Milanes, Robert Lambert, Andrej Smetana, Daniel Gappmaier and Kevin Wolbert) before banking two wins in his grouping that included Eduard Krcmar, Nicki Pedersen, Martin Vaculik, Kenneth Bjerre and Kaj Huckenbeck.
All three Rebels found themselves in the same semi-final grouping from which Doyle won twice but Holder (2-3-1) and Covatti (4-1-3) could only claim default placings in the consolation final, in which Holder finished third.
In the main final, however, Doyle made no mistake to become the sixth Australian to win the Golden Helmet, heading home Martin Vaculik and Vaclav Milik.
Speaking of Doyle’s win, Rebels team manager Garry May said: “This is great personal achievement for Jason after what has been a really tough season for him and it highlights just how well he has turned his year around. He has consolidated his place in the GP top eight and now has won one of the most prestigious titles outside of the world championship. It is good momentum for him and indeed for the Rebels as a team as we look to secure our place in the play-off final.”