The 2023 summer speedway season blasts off this Thursday (22 June) at the Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde as the Wightlink Warriors face a team representing the Rye House Rockets in a team challenge meeting designed to give the home side a stiff workout whilst also giving oxygen to the campaign mounted by the visiting management to reinstate racing at the picturesque Hoddesdon raceway.
The Warriors have already made a winning start to their season away at Sittingbourne in the first round of the No Brakes Racing League (NBRL) competition with Ben Morley, Rhys Naylor, Arran Butcher and George Congreve combining to see off teams from the home club, Plymouth and Cradley. That quartet of racers will be joined by Danish based Aussie Brayden McGuinness and the familiar face of Chad Wirtzfeld (pictured) for this week’s fixture.
The visitors come with two Rockets legends leading their attack and both making surprise track returns. Steve Boxall and Luke Bowen have both been persuaded to take to the track again with Boxall having put in some practice laps at Smallbrook just a fortnight ago. Many still remember his stunning 18 point maximum on a previous visit and those credentials are matched equally by the no-nonsense team captain Bowen who, in the past, has always been a tall scorer around the Island circuit. Current National League regulars Ben Trigger and Jack Kingston form the engine room pairing for the Rockets whilst Sam Woods and ever popular Chris Watts complete the team.
With the Warriors owners always keen to give opportunity to up and coming talent, prior to the main event there will be at least eight heats for Youth riders and also a six-heat training challenge between the Wightlink Wizards and Crayford Kestrels woven seamlessly into proceedings.
Warriors’ co-owner Barry Bishop is excited for the season ahead as he said,
“Well, here we are ready to deliver another season of exciting racing in our family friendly, fan conscious Warrior Way.
I can’t deny that we have had to find ways of tackling some challenges to be here, however we have created solutions that we hope the public will support and that give riders more track time to do what they so dearly love – namely racing and entertaining.
Our plan to be part of a new league with three other clubs has come to fruition, but not in the way we all originally envisaged it. The NBRL is up and running, Warriors won the first meeting in front of an appreciative crowd at Sittingbourne, and we will see more NBRL action here next Thursday.
A by-product of the changes has seen two of our original six riders missing. Unfortunately, Henry Atkins, who has had such a bright and busy start to his season with Oxford, has decided he must focus his full attention in that direction. We wish him well and hope that he may be able to fit some meetings in with us later in the season. Wayne Parker took a knock whilst practicing and still needs more recovery time so we hope he will be back with later in the summer. Now we are giving Brayden and Chad some further opportunities to shine, and I know they are keen to get going.
Looking at our first meeting I have to say it’s great to be able to give the Rockets a full-on fixture. A couple of seasons ago we worked in collaboration with the group trying to revive Oxford and look how well that worked out. Now we have a chance to do the same for Rye House. Steve Ribbons and his colleagues are all working so hard to get things going again and I’m delighted that we might be able to help by staging what is sure to be an exciting fixture”.
Gates at Smallbrook open at 5.15pm, demonstration races start at 6.10pm with the main team match getting under way at 7.00pm. Pre-booking tickets is not necessary with admission payment accepted by card or cash on the night.