As correctly predicted by several pundits, the destination of the Cliff Peasley Trophy being fought out between the speedway sides representing the Wightlink Warriors, Cradley Heathens and Oxford Cheetahs went right to the wire as the home side and Cheetahs faced off in what turned out to be a crucial and decisive final race.
Warriors: 30 Cradley: 22 Oxford: 38
Aggregate: Warriors: 97 Cradley: 75 Oxford: 98
Warriors came into the meeting holding a 7 point lead over the Cheetahs and 14 ahead of the Heathens, however the Cheetah’s, impressive leg 2 winners after a disaster in leg 1, looked ominously strong and their team changes certainly came good again as former Warrior Connor Coles took an immaculate five ride maximum (including a thrilling ‘from the back’ handicap win over Warriors skipper Danno Verge in heat 8).
It was appropriate that Coles teamed up with colleague Charley Powell – another great Island performance – to turn over a one point deficit ahead of the last race and secure the title with that vital 4-2 race result. With dependable Ryan Terry-Daley chipping in with paid 11 points and Jamie Sealey picking up telling third places, it was back across the Solent for the spoils.
For the Warriors, Danno Verge and Chad Wirtzfeld fired in three races wins each, Verge (pictured) also doing a great job in heat 5 to reel in and pass his Cradley opponents from the handicap position.
Despite clearly being under the weather Alex Spooner refused to stand down and battled on manfully whilst Morgan Williams found the going tough and rounded off his night with a tumble at his ‘favourite’ spot on bend three, fortunately without injury thanks to the reactions of Cradley’s Chris Watts who was quick to lay his bike down and avoid a major incident.
With the Heathens, it turned out to be a long night at the office. Having lost captain Luke Harris to injury before the meeting, sourcing a short notice replacement proved tricky and in the end former Cradley rider Jon Armstrong stepped in. The physically demanding Smallbrook circuit is not the best place for race rusty riders to resume but ‘Armo’ gave it a good go as did Chris Widman who has looked relaxed and confident on his appearances this year.
The busiest man on the night was Chris Watts taking 6 rides for the Heathens, stepping in to the nominated races when Scott Campos was forced out of the meeting having suffered mechanical problems all evening.
Speaking after the meeting, Warriors co-owner Barry Bishop said:
“Wow. What a finish. To lose by 1 point is a bit hard to take right now but it did make for an exciting end to another great night here at Smallbrook where we have packed in 28 races and lots of family fun. My thanks to our friends from Oxford and Cradley for making this a really worthwhile series and I need to make it clear to the Oxford boys that they trophy is only on loan – we’ll be out to wrestle it back next season!
“I also need to mention that such has been the great response to our Summer Spectacular racing season The Wightlink Warriors have added an additional two fixtures on Thursday 9th and Tuesday 14th of September. The 14th September will be the final round of the Island Master Series with round 2 switching to September 2nd whilst September 9th will be the inaugural round of the Nora 500cc British Championship.
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“Yes, we are delighted to be able to stage the inaugural Nora 500cc British Championship at Smallbrook and it is just a small thank you to all the volunteers, fans, sponsors and riders who have been on this incredible journey with us.
“It also an ideal opportunity for our sponsors to increase their brand awareness and join us on the 9th in what I am sure will be another wonderful night of entertainment. This is an additional date and there will be sponsorship opportunities and we are hopeful of a strong take up in support of the season we have had.
“The final round of the Island Masters has switched to Tuesday 14th and will be our season close meeting so expect lots of fun and games alongside the serious business of crowning the inaugural Wightlink Island Master in association with Foxbury Motors and Bantasia. We have a stunning line up coming together so get ready for more edge of your seat action.
“Finally Martin and I would like to thank all the riders, fans, volunteers and sponsors for their fantastic support and feedback to the meetings we have put on this season and I know you will be equally as proud as we are with these two meetings that we have planned. Ticket prices remain the same for these two fantastic meetings and for sponsorship opportunities please email [email protected]”.
Warriors: Chad Wirtzfeld 11, Alex Spooner 8+2, Danno Verge 11, Morgan Williams 0.
Cradley: Jon Armstrong 4, Chris Watts 7+2, Scott Campos 1+1, Chris Widman 10.
Oxford: Ryan Terry-Daley 8+3, Charley Powell 12, Connor Coles 15, Jamie Sealey 3.
In the Upright Challenge mini-match, Team Jawa lost out to Team GM by 13 to 23.
Team Jawa: Ben Phillips 4, Nigel Coates 6+1, David Hollingsbee 2, Martin Tappenden 1.
Team GM: Darren Phillips 7, Steve Cook 3+1, Alex Chadd 9, Glyn Edwards 4+1.
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