Isle of Wight Wightlink Warriors speedway captain Ben Hopwood has stunned the club management by handing in a shock transfer request and in doing so has opened the door to Essex based Alfie Bowtell to join the island side.
Manchester-based Hopwood approached the Warriors promotion before last week’s meeting against Eastbourne citing a new job that will prevent him travelling to the island.
Reacting to this unexpected turn of events, Warriors co-promoter Barry Bishop said: ‘Ben’s decision came out of the blue because he was always asking us if his job was safe and he was doing a good job.
‘To be honest, we were disappointed to find out he had already been in contact with the speedway authorities and at least one other club before approaching any of the management team here.
‘Of course we understand about his new working arrangements and our geographical position. We wish him all the best and there is no bad feeling between club and rider although we have to be disappointed in the way this matter has been carried out.
‘Ben had said he would only ride for the club for a further 14 days or until we found someone. We had to act quickly to secure a replacement and we are thrilled to be able to announce the arrival of Alfie Bowtell at the club on an attractive 6.55 average.
‘Alfie has ridden with Ben Morley at Lakeside for the past two seasons. At 21, he is an improving young talent who has always fitted in well and scored solidly on past visits here.
‘We welcome him to our club and will support his development in any way we can. The move also gives us a little more manoeuvrability within the points limit and we are looking closely at the new opportunities that now exist.’
Bowtell comes straight into the Warriors team for tomorrow night’s key fixture against Plymouth with the line up expected to be: Ben Morley, Danno Verge, Scott Campos, Chris Widman, Alfie Bowtell, Nick Laurence and Shaun Tedham.
Plymouth have injury and absence concerns over Bradley Andrews and former Warriors skipper James Cockle respectively with the rest of the side comprising of Richard Andrews, Henry Atkins, Macauley Leek, Adam Roynon and Ryan Terry-Daley.
Following the Warriors will be the Wightlink Wizards who take on the Exeter Falcons in their first Southern Development League fixture at Smallbrook Stadium.
In these six heat matches, the Wizards went down narrowly by four points in Devon on Friday night so it will be a revenge mission for the side who will track two island based riders (Morgan Williams and James Luckman) in their quartet.
Birthday boy Chris Watts and acting skipper Ben Ilsley make up the side who are determined to put up a good show in their opening home fixture.
It is a bumper programme of 21 races tomorrow (Tuesday) and with no increase to admission prices speedway fans will be treated to a great night of cut and thrust action. Gates open at 5.30pm with the first race at 7pm.
by Rob Dyer