Heart-stopping crashes as Jason Edwards wins pulsating 500cc title on the Isle of Wight
The Wightlink Warriors staged the first ever NORA 500cc Solo Speedway Championship last night. And in the most dramatic meeting of 2021 at Smallbrook Stadium, Essex-based Jason Edwards was crowned champion after a pulsating Grand Final saw race leader Connor Coles crash spectacularly on the very last bend of the event.
That was the second of two major incidents that had the crowd holding their breath, writes ROB DYER.
Earlier, Ruth Holder-Smith, competing in one of the support races, suffered a big fall on the home straight with a 40-minute delay ensuing whilst she received medical attention.
Holder-Smith was knocked unconscious and was taken to St. Mary’s hospital by ambulance having come round and complained of shoulder and pelvic pain.
When racing resumed in the main event, the action was fast and furious with pre-meeting favourite Edward Kennett completing his qualifying rides unbeaten.
His former Eastbourne team-mate Edwards finished second in qualification with 10 points that included some stunning passing manoeuvres.
Coles secured a final place with two late wins after an early fall, and the final line up was completed by Exeter-based Henry Atkins, continuing his successful comeback from major shoulder surgery.
For the grand final Kennett, a finalist in last week’s Island Masters, had first pick of starting position and opted for the outside position. Edwards had second pick and opted for gate 3, Coles chose the inside and that left Atkins on gate 2.
As the tapes flew up it appeared that Kennett’s bike ‘grounded’, allowing the other three a better run to the first turn. As the riders emerged from a tight start, Coles had his nose in front of Edwards and Atkins.
With Coles riding the high line it looked odds-on he would take the crown, but on the last corner he got his entry wrong and speared across the track, hitting the air fenc.
The other three riders did well to avoid Coles and, rather than rapturous cheers, it was stunned silence that greeted the remaining finishers.
It was a huge relief to see Coles get to his feet and walk back to the pits with sympathetic applause accompanying him.
But take nothing away from Edwards; in a fully committed showing of fast and stylish action, he was in the right place to take advantage of Coles’ misfortune and was a very worthy winner.
Wightlink Warriors co-owner Barry Bishop said: ‘What an incredible night.
‘That final was something else and I feel so sorry for Connor. He is such a genuine guy and to see his chance disappear in such spectacular fashion was heartbreaking, but you’ve got to say a massive well done to Jason. He was in the right place at the right time and his overall racing on the night was first class.’
Bishop added: ‘Ruth (Holder-Smith) is currently at the hospital. Lady racers are a rare breed and to see her prone on the track was a sickening moment.
‘Our amazing medical team and the County Ambulance crew were heroic as they comforted and assessed her.’
Qualifying scores: Edward Kennett 12, Jason Edwards 10, Connor Coles 8, Henry Atkins 8, Ryan Terry-Daley 8, Charley Powell 8, Connor King 6, Danno Verge 5, Elliot Kelly 3, Chris Widman 2, Chris Watts 2, Nick Laurence 0.
C Final: Kelly, Watts, Laurence.
B Final: Terry-Daley, Powell, King.
Grand Final: Edwards, Kennett, Atkins, Coles.