Wightlink Warriors race to second place in speedway's National League Four Team Championship
Wightlink Warriors were inches away from Four Team Championship gold on Saturday.
Georgie Wood and Stoke Potters’ former Isle of Wight rider Connor Coles were locked in a photo finish in the winner-takes-all finale of a thrilling night at the Loomer Road Stadium.
After a long delay, referee Ronnie Allan handed Coles the victory – and with it the home side celebrated the title.
The Warriors were second overall ahead of Mildenhall Fen Tigers and a depleted Kent Kings outfit.
However, co-promoter Barry Bishop insisted there was plenty of reason for cheer.
He said: ‘Wow, what a final race.
‘The whole team were magnificent and deserve a huge pat on the back.
‘This is another fantastic achievement for the little old Wightlink Warriors and yet again we have made the speedway world sit up and take notice.’
Wood, skipper Ben Morley, Chad Wirtzfeld and Danno Verge were among the 40 riders who descended on the Newcastle-under-Lyme track.
The Warriors were drawn against hosts Stoke, Cradley Heathens and Leicester Lions in their semi-final.
Heathens were hampered by the disqualification of Max Clegg for two successive tape offences and when Danny Halsey had motor problems their day was done.
Danyon Hume never got going for Leicester, while the Potters were unsurprisingly powerful on their own shale.
That left Warriors to qualify second spot with Morley’s classy passing and gating delivering two wins.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers and Kent Kings cruised past Plymouth Gladiators and Belle Vue Colts in the second semi-final.
Warriors team manager Kev Shepherd shuffled his riding order for the final – sending Georgie Wood out first followed by Morley.
And it paid off, with the former delivering the move of the meeting to pass previously unbeaten Stoke rider Joe Lawlor.
Two further Morley wins added to points from Chad Wirtzfeld and Danno Verge ensured the Warriors were tied with Mildenhall and Stoke going into the final heat.
And while the Coles got the best start, Wood swiftly jumped on to his exhaust pipe.
Down the back straight for the final time, Wood headed for the dirt on bend three before cutting back and powering towards the line to deliver a photo finish.