Warriors still In Trophy hunt following win against Kent
The Wightlink Warriors won an exciting meeting against the Kent Kings 48-12 in a dramatic night both on and off the track.
The win means the Isle of Wight side’s hopes of taking the National Trophy remain very much alive.
But to do that, they must go to Kent on Monday and win by seven points or more. Any other result hands the silverware to the Kings.
Prior to the match, fans would have been in the dark when Warriors number one rider Georgie Wood did not appear for the pre-match introductions.
That was because he was being whisked to Smallbrook from Ryde Hover Terminal having missed the car ferry to the island.
Yet he made it to the track with just enough time to pull on his race suit and hop on one of Chad Wirtzfeld’s bikes.
And, remarkably, Wood blasted away to win heat one in a time just 0.1 seconds slower than his best time while mounted on his own equipment.
With Chris Widman bagging a valuable third place in heat one, the Warriors had made the positive start asked for by team manager Jackie Vatcher – and 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 20-28.
Fortunately that big early advantage laid the foundation for the Warriors’ most complete performance for some time and a home win was generally felt to be the right result on the night.
Indeed, there could have been even more movement is the scoreline as lady luck deserted both sides.
Kent had three fallers while in good scoring positions.
Meanwhile, the Warriors suffered mechanical misfortune on at least four occasions – two of which went to Wood, who produced the ride of the night in heat 10 to catch and pass Kent’s Anders Rowe.
After the meeting, Warriors co-promoter Barry Bishop was ecstatic.
He said: ‘What a great meeting and what a great win against a very good Kent team who always do well here.
‘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 that he missed the carry ferry so 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 here that way.
‘It was all last minute.com but I’ve got to praise up the whole of 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 heat one like nothing had happened was quite remarkable. What a Warrior!’
‘Indeed, it was a remarkable and challenging night all round, with the Warriors showing fierce determination to win in front of terrifically vocal crowd who were royally entertained.
‘I also want say a huge thanks to our skipper Ben Morley who led by example, to the reserves who got us valuable points and to Ryan Terry-Daley and Danno Verge in the middle order who battled for every point.
‘That was a marvellous night and we will set off to Kent on Monday knowing we have a big task if we want that Trophy but with this bunch of guys, who knows what might happen.’