Leading from start to finish in the restart of Monster Energy Final after a dramatic crash that took Australian Darcy Ward out of the running, the United Kingdom’s 7-time National Champion Scott Nicholls scored an impressive victory at the 2013 Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational in The Grand Arena at the Industry Hills Expo Center in Southern California.
Sporting a truly international field with nine Americans, three Brits, two Poles, and one rider each from Australia and Denmark, the 16 racers each rode in five four-rider qualifying Heats to determine which eight riders would have a shot at the Championship.
Going into the Semi Finals, American Billy Janniro, who unexpectedly took the title last year, was the top Heat point-scorer with three wins and a pair of 2nds. Three more Americans were tied for the runner up spot in qualifying—Tyson Burmeister, Charlie Venegas, and eight-time US National Champion Greg Hancock. The eventual winner, Nicholls, barely qualified with two wins, a 2nd, a 3rd, and a non-points paying 4th.
Janniro and Venegas won their respective Semi Final races, making them odds-on favorites to win the title. Joining them in the Final were Semi Final runners up Ward and Nicholls.
Ward grabbed a holeshot, leading Janniro into the first turn with Nicholls and Venegas trailing. By turn 3, however, Janniro had taken the front spot. Ward, known for his exuberant style, overcooked the corner, losing the back end and clipping Janniro. This sent Janniro’s bike cartwheeling into the retaining wall, punching a hole in the wood. Venegas also went down to avoid the carnage ahead of him. Only Nicholls stayed upright, as the race was red flagged and restarted.
While the wall was being repaired, the referees determined Ward was at fault in the mayhem and he was not allowed to restart. Much attention was given to Janniro’s bike, and it was deemed ready for the restart.
With a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd of over 5,000 on its feet, Nicholls made the most of the restart, taking the lead and never relinquishing it. Janniro stayed within striking distance, but his main competition came from Venegas. In an aggressive move, Venegas pushed Janniro wide on turn 4 of the penultimate lap, assuring Venegas of the runner-up position.
In other action, Dillon Ruml finished second in both Heats, and then won the Junior 250cc Main Event. The Mini 150cc class was split into two divisions, with Sebastian Palmese and Sterling Martin winning their respective Main Events.
The hard-luck rider of the night was Maciej Janowski. He travelled from Poland for the World Speedway Invitational, finishing 3rd in his first Heat, and then taking no points in the remaining four Heats (including one DNS). Hamill was unable to answer the bell for his fifth Heat, and replacement rider Austin Novratil took his spot on the starting grid, earning a 3rd place finish in his only race of the night.
Photography by Don Williams
2013 Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational Results
Monster Energy Final
1. Scott Nicholls (UK)
2. Charlie Venegas (US)
3. Billy Janniro (US)
4. Darcy Ward (Australia)