Glasgow Tigers star Richard Lawson was a home-track hero as he won British speedway’s traditional curtain raiser at Ashfield on Sunday.
The Englishman took the Ben Fund Bonanza title for the first time in front of a packed crowd at the Peugeot Ashfield Stadium.
He romped home over former Grand Prix star Chris Harris, Tigers team-mate Richie Worrall and Edinburgh’s Ricky Wells in a hotly-contested final.
The meeting is expected to have raised thousands of pounds for the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund, which supports injured racers.
Lawson, 31, said: “I’m really happy with the result. I wasn’t totally happy with the way I was riding but it came together in that last one - I made a good start.
“I feel good, I feel fit, the bikes are good - so I’m looking forward to the season.
“It’s nice to be in action this early in the season. You can practice all day long but when you come to the tapes and race, that’s the best practice.
“There were some good riders in this meeting so it’s great to come away with the win.”
And Lawson insists the Tigers are in for another thrilling ride this season - as he and Worrall, joined by fellow 2016 KO Cup heroes Nike Lunna and Aaron Summers, line up along side British wonderkids Jack Smith, Dan Bewley and Tom Perry.
He added: “It’s a strong team and an exciting team - hopefully we can produce fantastic racing for the fans and come away with more trophies.”
It was Worrall who finished the programmed heats in the Ben Fund Bonanza top of the scoreboard on 14. He was drawn on the outside gate in the final - and looked to be challenging Lawson for the top of the podium - until Harris produced a classic round-the-boards pass on the Glasgow man.
Harris had produced perhaps the race of the day early on, when - after being left behind at the tapes - he fought past Max Clegg, Stuart Robson and Theo Pijper to take the chequered flag.
Glasgow now have three weeks to wait before their first official fixture, which is against Scunthorpe in the Championship on April 1.
Sunday’s scorers: Richie Worrall 15 (third place), Richard Lawson 14 (first place), Chris Harris 14 (second place), Ricky Wells 12 (fourth place), Thomas Jorgensen 9, Steve Worrall 9, Aaron Summers 8, Claus Vissing 7, Kevin Doolan 7, Lewis Bridger 6, James Sarjeant 6, Theo Pijper 6, Stuart Robson 5, David Howe 5, Ben Barker 1, Max Clegg 1.