Isle of Wight speedway fans could not have scripted a better finish to the league season at Smallbrook as both the Warriors and Wizards turned in a magical performance to topple high ranking opposition.
The Warriors went in to this vital contest without top man Georgie Wood and young Jason Edwards from Mildenhall was drafted in to take the number one slot.
Leicester were missing free scoring Ellis Perks, who was away on higher league duty, so called up in-form Anders Rowe from Kent as cover. Wizards’ rider Chris Watts replaced Ryan Macdonald at reserve, the Scot unable to make the trip south.
The Leicester Lion Cubs got off to a positive start with Danyon Hume (a guest for the Warriors last week) picking up where he left off with a race win ably backed by Dan Thompson, who beat Chad Wirtzfeld with a smart inside pass. Birthday boy Connor King took heat 2 for the home side with Chris Widman adding maximum support with race 3 being won by home man Scott Campos, 1 of 3 excellent winning rides on the night. Lion Cubs’ Dan Thompson again completed a neat pass, this time on Danno Verge.
Ben Morley had to be smart around the first 2 corners of heat 4 to drive past a quick start from the Cubs’ ex-Warrior Ryan Terry-Daley and at the one third distance only 4 points separated the teams. That came down to just 2 after heat 6 as clear race leader Jason Edwards hit mechanical problems, but the Warriors extended their lead to 6 points after heat 7 as Morley and King combined to snuff out the threat of Leicester’s Thompson Twins.
And so to what turned out to be the race of the night. On paper it looked to be a home heat advantage but the reality was far from it. Again it was Terry-Daley springing out of the traps to lead with Wirtzfeld having to see off Joe Thompson before being able to set off in pursuit of RTD and a determined chase by Wirtzfeld reaped a magnificent reward with a final turn swoop and drag race to the finish line to secure a race win by half a wheel.
Cue a tactical move from the Lion Cubs that brought a maximum heat win from Hume and Rowe and the Warriors lead was back to 2, but the real turning point came in the next heat, heat 10, as the Lion Cubs surrendered a 5-0 result to the Warriors after Joe Thompson had bike problems on lap 3 and Dan Thompson tumbled on the last bend whilst in second place. Unfortunately, that fall ended his night as he sustained an injury to his left arm and had to sit the rest of the meeting out.
Hume took a further impressive win in heat 11 ahead of Morley with Terry-Daley in third, but heat 12 was another nightmare for the Lion Cubs as both Chris Watts and then Terry-Daley were disqualified for missing the time allowance leaving a race rusty Joe Thompson to go it alone and then watch the Island side head off for another maximum.
Hume took the battle of the big guns in heat 13 with Warriors filling the minor places and it was the minor places occupied by King and Verge that saw the Warriors over the winning line in heat 14 before Edwards and Morley put the icing on the cake with a last race maximum.
Isle of Wight Warriors 51 | 38 Leicester Lion Cubs
Wightlink Warriors: Jason Edwards 9+1, Chad Wirtzfeld 7+1, Scott Campos 10, Danno Verge 2+1, Ben Morley 12+1, Connor King 7+2, Chris Widman 4+1.
Lion Cubs: Danyon Hume 15, Rider Replacement for Luke Ruddick, Joe Thompson 2+1, Dan Thompson 4, Anders Rowe 6+2, Chris Watts 1, Ryan Terry-Daley 10+1.
The Development League meeting that followed proved somewhat unsatisfactory…
The Bulls arrived with only two riders and it was agreed that Dan Thompson from Leicester would make it up to 3, however, when he was injured in the main match the Bulls were back to 2 riders and perhaps the meeting should have been halted before it ever got going.
Nonetheless racing did continue and a one-sided affair was eventually stopped after 4 heats when the Bulls Jacob Fellows fell and couldn’t continue. A sad end to what had promised to be a good contest but the Wizards will be happy to collect another 2 points for the league table.
Isle of Wight Wizards 17 | 6 Birmingham Bulls
Wizards: Chad Wirtzfeld 6, Morgan Williams 3+1, Chris Watts 5, Jamie Sealey 3+2.
Bulls: Arran Butcher 5, Jacob Fellows 1.
After the meetings, a delighted Warriors co-promoter Barry Bishop said:
“That was another fantastic night for the Warriors and Wizards in front of a bumper crowd of all ages who we entertained from start to finish.
“I just knew the Warriors were going to pull it off tonight. The atmosphere in the pits before the meeting was electric, all the boys were so positive and it showed through in some terrific racing on track. We now need to keep that going for our trip to Stoke on Saturday night and the way the boys are right now anything is possible.
“With the Wizards, it was another fine win but we have to recognise that the Bulls were severely limited in what they could do tonight but that, as they say, is speedway so we move on to Stoke to take on Carmarthen with a great chance of another way win.
“I must just pass on best wishes to Dan and Jacob. Hope those knocks are not too bad and they get back to racing soon and just to remind everyone we have a nautical three team challenge next Thursday so come along and join us for what might be the last fixture of the season”.