With the temperatures soaring, last night’s speedway action at the Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde brought together riders to contest the annual US style handicap meeting and they served up some terrific racing in the most testing of conditions. At the end of the night, it was Henry Atkins (pictured), now representing the Oxford Chargers, who proved too hot to handle as he secured a stylish win in the meeting’s A Final to complete a faultless five ride maximum in his first ever handicap speedway event.
This meeting usually serves up close and exciting racing with plenty of passing and the riders on show certainly kept that tradition going with several smart overtaking moves. Whilst Atkins was in a class of his own, there were excellent performances from the spectacular Kiwi George Congreve and local skipper Danno Verge who recovered from an uncharacteristic fall to secure enough points for an A Final slot. Completing that final line-up was Basildon based Rhys Naylor, easing himself back into the sport after twelve years away, who also took several points from the back with some gutsy round-the-boards action. All the riders competing both in the Handicap meeting and support races, deserve a great deal of praise for putting on a super show in those really hot conditions.
Also featuring as part of the programme were the ladies taking part in the first ever NORA Women’s British Championship. It was the first time that the ladies have been brought together in one meeting and pre-meeting it was clear that a mixture of nerves and excitement were present, but thy need not have worried. They were warmly welcomed by the home crowd who thoroughly appreciated their best endeavours. On the night it was Taya Thirtle (pictured) from Norfolk whose consistency was rewarded with 8 points from her three rides, just in front of surprise packet Charlotte Brooks on 7, whilst the impressive Katie Gordon might well have ridden unbeaten had it not been for an unfortunate mechanical failure whilst leading her second outing. She finished on six points. With two more rounds of the competition to come, the destination of the title is still wide open, but perhaps more importantly those pre-match nerves had melted into smiles of enjoyment and the establishment of new shared friendships.
Wightlink Warriors co-owner Barry Bishop was quick to deliver his appreciation of the night’s events as he said, “Phew, that was a hot one and I am so pleased with everything about today. Our track staff have been working non-stop to prepare the very best track surface possible in these trying conditions and they have pulled it off – they deserve a huge pat on the back, and I thank them sincerely. The riders have been very happy with it and I’m so pleased.
Congratulations to Henry and Taya on their wins. Great stuff from them and all the riders. Most of you will know we had lots of issues to deal with this week and we have met all the challenges head on, so I say to all the riders, men and women, thank you so much for supporting us and doing your very best. Martin and myself really appreciate it and can I just add a huge well done to the ladies. You were great, please keep on doing what you’re doing, it’s fantastic.
And lastly, as ever a massive ‘well-done’ to all of volunteers and staff. Another super slick show. All done and dusted by 9 pm. Happy fans, happy riders and happy promoters!”
Handicap A Final: Henry Atkins, George Congreve, Danno Verge, Rhys Naylor
Handicap B Final: David Abraham, Jamie Sealey, James Laker
Support Class : Giles Dismore, Bill Haynes, Rob Snow, Rob Wright
NORA British Women’s Championship Round 1 : Taya Thirtle 8, Charlotte Brooks 7, Katie Gordon 6, Steph Whitlock 5, Anastasia Sallee 4, Roksana Brzeska 3.