Wightlink Warriors captain James Cockle capped a fine night’s racing on his home track with the inaugural Vincent’s Motorcycles & Antiques Handicap Individual Challenge title.
The individual event for 12 riders was broadly based on the speedway model used extensively in the USA – where riders starting positions are determined by their average points score.
Less experienced riders went from the starting gate, more experienced riders started 15m back from the tapes, while the star men had a 30m gap to make up.
Straight from heat one it was clear the handicapper had got most of his sums right as the riders had to use speed, skill and track craft to manoeuvre alongside and around their competitors.
This produced close racing with every heat recording a pass in one form or another.
Certainly the supporters were richly entertained and welcomed this break from team competition.
And while it may not be to everyone’s taste, the meeting proved the well-prepared Smallbrook Stadium track can serve up quality entertainment.
As expected, home favourites James Cockle and Connor Coles were always in the mix.
Meanwhile, Warrior debutant Scott Campos, who didn’t quite make the winner-takes-all final, was pleased with his contribution.
Georgie Wood was always a real threat – as his scoring this season has proved, with Lakeside’s Alfie Bowtell the dark horse in the field.
After the qualifying heats and two tight semi-finals, Bowtell, Cockle, Wood and Coles came to the tapes for the final heat.
A real cut-and-thrust battle developed between Bowtell and Coles.
Wood dropped out with a mechanical fault after little more than a lap as wily Cockle sat back and stalked the young guns.
Sure enough, on the very last corner Bowtell and Coles clashed and fell, allowing Cockle to slide past for the win – triggering a night of celebration for the home fans.
Final result: 1 James Cockle; 2 Connor Coles; 3 Alfie Bowtell; 4 Georgie Wood
Other scores: Ryan Terry-Daley 5; Adam Portwood 4; Jamie Bursill 0; Danno Verge 7; Scott Campos 8; Sam Woolley 4; Jamie Sealey 1; Tom Woolley 8