The weather stayed dry, the sun shone and the supporters came out in force at the Adrian Flux Arena in King’s Lynn for Simon Lambert’s testimonial meeting.
With club legends Tomas Topinka, Terry Betts and Ian Turner present as special guests, and Neil Vatcher’s Young Lions on show alongside the main event, there was a party atmosphere to ‘Rambo Lambo’s Decennary’.
Lambert (28), of Kirton, was forced to withdraw from the action following a heavy heat 15 tumble.
It could have spoiled the occasion but the testimonial star fortunately escaped from what could have been a worse landing with muscle damage to his right arm.
In the end, it was former Grand Prix star Kenneth Bjerre who took the day’s top prize by easing into the semi-finals with 12 points and then powering to victory in the two deciding races.
While the day was always going to be as much about the occasion, there was plenty of good racing to maintain interest throughout, with Sam Masters frequently at the centre.
Everybody’s made it happen, there’s been a great turnout, and I’m so thankful.Simon Lambert
The Australian champion got the afternoon up and running with his third lap pass of Danny Ayres to win the opening race, just lost out to Michael Palm Toft right on the line in heat 13 and left it as late as the final bend to catch Josh Grajczonek for victory in heat 16.
Niels Kristian Iversen dominated the main 20-race programme, powering to five wins, before coming unstuck against Bjerre in the first semi-final, while fellow front-runner Craig Cook found his day ended in the second when up against Masters and King.
King proved a little too eager at the tapes in the final, his subsequent 15-metre penalty relegating him to the back as Bjerre drove home ahead of Iversen and Masters to win the race that mattered most.
The Dane was not even in the meeting a week earlier, yet following cancellation of a Polish commitment and a late opportunity to join the field, he was finishing top of the pile.
He said: “I texted Simon to ask if he still had a place open, and he said ‘come on down’.
“It’s been a great day, the weather has been nice and I hope everyone enjoyed it.”
Runner-up Iversen added: “I missed out in the last couple of races, but it was still a good meeting for me, with plenty to build on for the season.
“It was good to be back here too. We’ll see what happens in the future, but I enjoyed the day.”
Third-placed Masters admitted: “I didn’t expect to be on the rostrum at the start of the day – I couldn’t get out of the starts.
“But as long as it was a good day for Simon, that’s what really matters. That’s what we were here for.”
Talking about his injury, Lambert said: “I am OK now, although it’s a bit sore. I don’t know what happened but it was one of those things.
“I think I tried a bit too hard but we’ll forget about that. Tomorrow’s another day. I just need to push on now.
“You come back from injury and then you pick up another little knock. But we’ll get there.
“It’s been a fantastic day overall, though. Everybody’s made it happen, there’s been a great turnout, and I’m so thankful.”
Main 20-heat programme Niels Kristian Iversen 15, Craig Cook 13, Sam Masters 13, Kenneth Bjerre 12, Josh Grajczonek 10, Michael Palm Toft 9, Danny King 8, Lasse Bjerre 8, Kenneth Hansen 6, Todd Kurtz6, David Howe 4, Thomas Jorgensen 4, Carl Wilkinson 3, James Sarjeant 3, Ulrich Ostergaard 1, Simon Lambert 1. Reserve: Danny Ayres 3.
Semi-final one: K Bjerre, Iversen, Palm Toft, L Bjerre.
Semi-final two: Masters, King, Cook, Grajczonek.
Final: K Bjerre, Iversen, Masters. King (ext – 15m).