CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. – American star Billy Janniro stunned a field of international stars to snatch a sensational victory in the Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational in California on Saturday night.
The former Coventry favorite won an all-American final under the roof of City of Industry’s Grand Arena ahead of double world champion Greg Hancock, Ricky Wells and 1996 SGP champion Billy Hamill.
Swedish hotshot Antonio Lindback reached the semi-finals on eight points, but his SGP compatriot Freddie Lindgren managed just four after falling hard in his second race. Meanwhile, 2010 world champion Tomasz Gollob failed to beat an opponent on the tricky 200-metre track and scored just one.
On a night which brought some of Europe’s biggest stars to the States for the first time since the eighties, the boys flying the Stars and Stripes proved the American speedway dream is very much alive.
An ecstatic Janniro was certainly in dreamland after arguably the biggest win of his career.
“In the beginning the bike wasn’t working but then we changed some stuff and suddenly we got it working,” said Janniro. “I started making some starts and once I did that it was just about keeping it going and getting my head down.
“It’s a big meeting with all the European guys over here so I’m stoked to win it. It’s cool to show people that I can still do it. I may not ride in England anymore, but I can still ride a bike okay.”
Wolverhampton racer Wells thundered to the top of the heat scorechart with a fantastic 14 points, followed by Janniro on 12. Hancock and Hamill tallied 10 along with Team Great Britain duo Scott Nicholls and Edward Kennett.
Former American international Charlie Venegas made the cut on nine, while Lindback scraped through on eight with four second places.
In the Grand Prix-style meeting, Hamill took the checkered flag ahead of Wells, while Venegas and Kennett were eliminated in semi-final one. Janniro led home Hancock in semi two, which saw Nicholls and Lindback’s night come to an end.
Janniro, who started his heats with a third place and a second, then completed his run of five straight victories by leaving three American internationals and two former world champs trailing in the final.
His heroics will almost certainly result in phone calls from British Elite League and Premier League sides, who are yet to complete their teams for 2013.
Former Grand Prix star Hans Andersen scored seven to fall a point short of the semis, along with Bryan Yarrow. US duo Austin Novratil and Tyson Burmeister accrued six, while 2011 World Under-21 champion Maciej Janowski struggled with the tight track and managed just three points.