THERE have been a number of exciting speedway battles for the Isle of Wight Wightlink Warriors recently, none more so than their dramatic win on Thursday evening to keep their hopes of lifting the National Trophy alive.

The win means they have a do or die return meeting with Kent on Monday, with a win by seven points or more handing the trophy to the Kings.

Fans would have got an inkling things were happening behind the scenes, when the Warriors' number one rider, Georgie Wood, did not appear for the pre-match introductions.

That was because he was being whisked to Smallbrook from the Ryde Hovertravel terminal having missed the car ferry to the Island, but he made it the track with just enough time to pull on his race suit and hop on one of Chad Wirtzfeld’s bikes.

Remarkably, Wood sped away to win the opening heat in a time just 0.1 of a second slower than his best time.

With Chris Widman bagging a valuable third place, the Warriors made the positive start asked for by team manager, Jackie Vatcher.

The recent improved performances and enthusiasm rubbed off on the whole team, as they led the much-fancied Kings 28-14 after seven races.

Wise heads on the terraces waited for the Kings to respond and, over the next eight races, they did just that —outscoring the Warriors by eight race points to pull it back to 28-20.

Fortunately, the big early advantage laid the foundation for the Warriors' most complete performance for some time, with a Warrior win the right result on the night. 

Kent had three fallers, when in good scoring positions, while the Warriors suffered mechanical failure on at least four occasions — two of those occasions befalling Wood, who produced the ride of the night in Heat 10, to catch and pass Kent’s Anders Rowe.

After the meeting, delighted Warriors co-promoter, Barry Bishop, said: “What a great meeting and what a great win against a very good Kent team, who normally always do well here (at Smallbrook).  

"I really thought we were in trouble when I heard about Georgie. He had been to Swindon during the day to sort out a motor problem with his tuner — but getting that done took longer than expected, meaning he missed the carry ferry, so he had to leave his van in Portsmouth with his bikes on board.

"His quickest way to get here was to catch the Hovercraft, so we arranged to pick him up and get to the meeting that way.

"It was all last minute, but I’ve got to praise the entire the Warriors squad, especially Chad Wirtzfeld and his dad, Dave, for getting a bike ready for Georgie.

"The other riders and mechanics all mucked in to get things sorted, and to see Georgie go and win the first heat, like nothing had happened, was quite remarkable. What a Warrior.

"The Warriors showed fierce determination, with our skipper Ben Morley leading by example, to the reserves, who got us valuable points, as well as Ryan Terry-Daley and Danno Verge in the middle order, who battled for every point.

"We will set off to Kent on Monday knowing we have a big task if we want to win the trophy, but with this bunch of guys, who knows what might happen."


Warriors: Georgie Wood 9, Chris Widman 2, Ryan Terry-Daley 6+1, Danno Verge 9, Ben Morley 13, Connor King 4+2 and Chad Wirtzfeld 5.