Supporters of the Wightlink Warriors were promised a feast of speedway, but no-one could possibly have foreseen the remarkable turn of events that unfolded during and after the semi-finals and final of the Island Pairs Championship.
As expected, racing was fast and furious with many passing moves and close races to keep the fans entertained as the six pairs tussled for the four semi-final spots on offer. After each pair had completed their five qualifying races the scorecard looked like this:
Pompey Warriors 26 (Steve Boxall 18+1, Jacob Clouting 8), Speedway Ireland 24 (Jake Turner 18, George Congreve 6), Surrey Sliders 23 (Ben Morley 19, Rhys Naylor 4), Mirac’s Marvels 21 (Brayden McGuinness 16, Michael West 5+2), Charlie’s Champions 20 (Arran Butcher 11, Freddy Hodder 9+1) and Hawthorne’s Heathens 19 (Lee Complin 14, Tom Woolley 5+1).
Pompey Warriors were drawn to race Mirac’s Marvels in semi-final 1 and Steve Boxall eventually got to the front ahead of the harum scarum Aussie racers McGuinness and West. On the 4,3,2,0 scoring system Boxall’s win has been in vain as team partner Clouting’s last place allowed the Marvels move to the final after a 4-5 heat result.
After the race and out of public sight, an incident occurred in the pits that was to have severe consequences for UK debutant Michael West of Mirac’s Marvels.
Meanwhile out on track in semi-final 2, the writing looked to be on the wall for the Surrey Sliders as Rhys Naylor who had earlier taken a heavy fall was unable to continue leaving Ben Morley to go it alone and with only four points available to him against a potential five for Speedway Ireland things looked extremely bleak for last year’s winners. From the tapes Morley made the better get away with the Kiwi pairing of Turner and Congreave steady in the crucial second and third spots until disaster struck Congreve, and he inexplicably falls and is trapped at the bottom of the air fence. The race had to be stopped with the disconsolate Congreve thumping the track in annoyance, rightly excluded and the race awarded 4-3 in favour of the Surrey Sliders.
Back in the pits, aggressive reaction from West’s camp to some comments about his flamboyant riding style could not be ignored by meeting officials and, as Island Speedway has a zero-tolerance policy on such behaviour, it meant that he was ruled out of the event at that point on disciplinary grounds. His subsequent ride up to the starting gate in the hope of competing in the final heat proved fruitless as he was turned back to the pits.
So, the final race for the pairs title had been reduced to a race off between Ben Morley for the Surrey Sliders and Brayden McGuinness for Mirac’s Marvels. Yet again Morley was sharp out of the start, and he led for just over a lap before McGuinness ruthlessly powered past to seemingly take the spoils for his team, but no! On returning to the pits, it was discovered that McGuinness had breached the Nora tyre regulations which resulted in a post-race disqualification thus handing the win to Morley on behalf of the Sliders. A quite astounding and dramatic end to racing.
Final Result: 1st Surrey Sliders, 2nd Mirac’s Marvels, 3rd Pompey Warriors.
Earlier, round 1 of the Nora British Women’s Championship saw reigning holder Katie Gordon secure four straight wins to put herself firmly in line to hold onto her crown, however with four more rides to come on Thursday (20 July) there is still some more work to do. Islander Steph Whitlock currently stands second whilst Anastasia Sallee and Wendy McAllan are tied third.
Image by Robert Buckett shows Michael West leading Steve Boxall before West’s exclusion from the meeting.