THE Isle of Wight's 2023 summer speedway season blasts off this evening (Thursday) at Ryde's Smallbrook Stadium.

The Wightlink Warriors face a team representing the Rye House Rockets in a team challenge meeting designed to give the home side a stiff workout.

The Warriors have already made a winning start to the season, away at Sittingbourne in the first round of the No Brakes Racing League (NBRL) competition, with Ben Morley, Rhys Naylor, Arran Butcher and George Congreve combining to see off teams from the home club, Plymouth and Cradley.

The quartet of racers will be joined by Denmark-based Aussie, Brayden McGuinness, and the familiar face of Chad Wirtzfeld for this week’s fixture.

With the Warriors owners always keen to give opportunity to up-and-coming talent, prior to the main event, there will be at least eight heats for youth riders, plus a six-heat training challenge between the Wightlink Wizards and Crayford Kestrels.

Warriors’ co-owner Barry Bishop is excited for the season ahead.

He said: "We are ready to deliver another season of exciting racing in our family-friendly, fan-conscious Warrior way.

"I can’t deny we've had to find ways of tackling some challenges, but we have created solutions we hope the public will support and that give riders more track time to do what they so love — racing and entertaining.

"Our plan to be part of a new league with three other clubs has come to fruition, but not in the way we all originally envisaged it.

"The NBRL is up and running, with the Warriors winning the first meeting at Sittingbourne — and we will see more NBRL action here tonight (Thursday).

"A by-product of the changes has seen two of our original six riders missing.

"Unfortunately, Henry Atkins, who has had such a bright and busy start to his season with Oxford, has decided he must focus his full attention in that direction.

"We wish him well and hope that he may be able to fit some meetings in with us later in the season.

"Wayne Parker took a knock whilst practicing and still needs more recovery time, so we hope he'll be back with us later in the summer.

"Now we are giving Brayden and Chad some further opportunities to shine — and I know they are keen to get going.

"Looking at our first meeting, it’s great to be able to give the Rockets a full-on fixture."

Gates open at 5.15pm, with the demonstration races starting at 6.10pm and the main team match underway at 7pm.