“That’s just the beginning” – Leon

Published on 14th August 2022
Author George Dodds

Local hero Leon Flint feasted at speedway’s top table this weekend – and now wants to become the first name on everyone’s guest list.

As if two points-scoring rides as track reserve in Saturday night’s main Grand Prix were not enough the 19-year-old scorched to nine points as wildcard at Sunday’s SGP2.

That earned him a place in the semi-finals – or it would have but for a hastily-arranged meeting of the FIM jury which decided to end the meeting after 20 heats due to concerns over the deteriorating condition of the temporary track at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Team Flint … Leon celebrates a fine weekend’s work with his crew

It was probably the only disappointment on an afternoon which underlined the astonishing progress made by the FTS Bandits, powered by Keenwood Karpets, young star this season.

All topped off by a heat win which brought the large – and noisy – contingent of Berwick fans to their feet.

After the meeting Leon said: “Obviously I am hugely disappointed that we didn’t go the distance as I would have gone into the semi-final confident after that heat 19 win.

“I went through all the emotions on the day, highs and lows, but I was surrounded by the best people in the pits and behind the scenes.

“Usually I am my harshest critic but given time to reflect on the weekend I am really proud of myself, even more so when I see the kind messages from people saying I have made them proud.

“I feel that I have proved that I belong alongside some the best riders in the world. What I want now is to compete against them on a regular basis.”

A memorable day began with a 2-4 to Glasgow over the Bandits – or a 3-3 between Denmark and Great Britain depending on your viewpoint –  Leon following Ben Basso home and fending off a big challenge from Tom Brennan with Jonas Knudsen in fourth place in heat two.

Following serious problems with the track the previous night extensive grading took place after ever other heat meaning that a drawn out meeting which stretched into the early evening.

Frustration was the name of the game in heat six, Leon roaring from the outside gate and rounding the field only for the race to be stopped when Drew Kemp fell at the back on the second lap and couldn’t clear the track before the red lights came on.

Kevin Juhl Pedersen had made a note of Leon’s line and moved to block his run in the restart and with passing at a premium it was another second place for the British under-19 champion.

Third time out from the unfavoured inside gate saw Leon predictably at the back but he managed to force his way past Czech rider Daniel Klima for third.

The first signs that the track was beginning to deteriorate, especially on the start line where the depth of the ruts meant that bikes were bottoming out and some riders noticeably struggling for control came in an eventful heat 16.

At the first attempt Jacob Miskowiak veered wildly across the track from four towards Gustav Grahn from one, the Swede clipping Leon’s front wheel and causing him to fall awkwardly before the first bend.

Fortunately, there was no lasting damage to either rider or machine. Grahn gated in the rerun and Leon battled with the previously unbeaten Jan Kvech before settling for another point ahead of the wild Miskowiak.

Knudsen, who wasn’t enjoying anywhere near as profitable an afternoon as his good friend and – when visa allows – Berwick team-mate but the popular Dane did benefit from more Miskowiak madness in heat 17, the Pole spectacularly exiting after hitting the back straight fence, Klima falling awkwardly in the second rerun and Jonas getting a gift two points behind fellow Dane Pedersen after what was effectively a match race.

There was already a strong suspicion growing that the meeting may not go the distance which made it vital that Leon produced something special in heat 19.

He did, another superb start from gate four and he floated over the ruts and bumps only to be halted by the red lights again after Norick Blodorm hit the deck on the first bend.

Leon’s frustration was there for all to see but, after some words of wisdom at the pits gate from Chris Harris, he dropped the clutch again and this time no one – not even the busy reserve Edwards – was going to deny him a race win which he celebrated in style.

Looking good in the Principality

Despite a spectacular loop at the gate in his last ride wins in the previous four put Pole Mateusz Ciernak on the top step of the podium with Juhl Pedersen second and Basso third.

Knudsen finished with four points but it was Leon, level on nine points with Brennan, who led the British celebrations.

The series concludes in Torun on September 30 and with a number of the original field struggling to shake off injuries Leon will be hoping that his Cardiff displays have caught the eye of those allocating replacements.

And there was a final word of thanks to the support in the stands over the weekend.

“Thank you to everyone who came along for the ride, it was certainly one I will never forget.

“Hearing all you screaming my name in the stands gave me the boost I needed and made me realise even more just how much I want this.

“I don’t intend this to be my only Cardiff appearance.”

George Dodds
George Dodds

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