Steve Worrall triumphs as NICE Challenge makes UK debut at Smallbrook Stadium on Isle of Wight

Steve Worrall and his bike during the NICE Challenge. Picture: Ian Groves/SportographySteve Worrall and his bike during the NICE Challenge. Picture: Ian Groves/Sportography
Steve Worrall and his bike during the NICE Challenge. Picture: Ian Groves/Sportography
Steve Worrall showed his class as he raced to victory in the inaugural NICE Challenge at the Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde.

The Belle Vue international shaded former Isle of Wight star Paul Starke in a splendid climax to a meeting full of thrills and spills.

Jason Edwards completed the podium, while Polish star Tomasz Orwat also made the grand final.

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And Wightlink Warriors co-promoter Barry Bishop told of his pride after the Polish event’s debut on these shores was hailed a success.

He said: ‘What a great night.

‘I have had riders, supporters and sponsors giving us huge praise.

‘I will share more of the feedback soon but suffice to say we had some tricky problems to overcome in the build up and the fact we came through with flying colours makes me so very proud.’

The ambitious Warriors management caused great surprise by working with the NICE organisation – long time sponsors of the sport in Poland and headline backers of last Thursday’s meeting.

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They are a company looking to help by finding ways of cost containment.

And that led them to develop a unique twist, where they supply standard engines, rear tyres and lubricants to the riders in a bid to level the playing field.

Despite the unfortunate withdrawal of Scunthorpe riders Danny Ayres and Ben Barker, a series of phone calls late on Wednesday night secured replacements in the shape of Danish racer Jacob Bukhave and Australian Dakota Ballantyne.

Their inclusion added an extra international flavour – with both men having their moments and Ballantyne, in particular, getting up from three falls to delight the appreciative crowd with a stylish win in his final heat.

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Orwat’s efforts underlined why he won the equivalent event in his home country last year but in the end, the formbook delivered.

Worrall made fast starts, rode wide lines and commanded his races to clinch victory.

Starke was always up there and, for many, was the rider of the night for his superb passing skills while inches from the air fence.

The Warriors contingent were far from disgraced.

They gained valuable experience, although Danno Verge got familiar with the Smallbrook Stadium shale and air fence on more than one occasion.

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