Speedway fans attending the fifth staging of The Vince Mapley Memorial Trophy were richly entertained by a combination of conventional speedway racing and a first view of Flat Track racing with six riders battling it out in every race. Former Wightlink Warrior speedway ace Connor Coles (pictured leading Tom Woolley) again demonstrated his like for the Smallbrook oval with a stylish victory in The Vince Mapley Trophy whilst Jack Bell from Sleaford quickly mastered the circuit to deliver four really convincing wins in the Flat Track discipline. Sadly, the meeting ended with a nasty fall for young Ben Trigger which looks to have resulted in a knee ligament injury.
Coles signalled his intentions in the first race of the night with a win in the fastest time of the season so far and although he had to give second best to Warriors number one Ben Morley in race four a total of 11 points for each rider put both into the semi-finals with ease. Also reaching the semi-finals were the impressive Aaron Butcher on 10 points continuing his excellent start to his Island career and he was joined by Trigger who also totalled 10 points with some silky passing around the high banking in three of his heats. Home skipper Danno Verge also progressed to the semi-final stage following a win in his last ride where he was joined by the Woolley brothers, Tom and Sam, and Chris Watts.
The first semi-final saw Trigger take a surprise but deserved win over Coles as they secured final places. The second semi-final was dominated by Morley, but a slick passing move by Butcher on the last lap got him ahead of Tom Woolley and into second place thus setting the scene for an exciting final. It did not disappoint as firstly Coles dramatically suffered machine problems on the way to tapes and with time rapidly ticking down, he was saved by fellow rider Sam Woolley lending him his bike at the very last minute.
Many people in the stadium thought that Coles chances had evaporated with that incident but how wrong they were as he shot from the inside starting position to lead throughout, the unfamiliar bike proving to be no handicap whatsoever. Behind him, Butcher had also made a good start and rode a very tidy race to keep Morley at bay, however the excitement was being served up by young Trigger who was continually buzzing around Morley’s back wheel and in a do-or-die effort for third place on the last bend carried too much speed into the corner and crashed heavily into the air fence on the outside of the track. It was a stomach-churning fall with the ambulance summoned on to track immediately. After attention, he was able to take the ambulance back to the pits where the early indications were that the Devonian had suffered some knee ligament damage.
An unfortunate way to end an enjoyable evening that was bolstered by the Flat Track riders on their first official appearance at Smallbrook. With brakes and gears the racing took on a different dimension with five of the six competitors very evenly matched and serving up some elbow-to-elbow action, however Jack Bell was clearly the class act on the night and another outing for the Flat Track boys is being planned for later in the summer.
Vince Mapley Memorial Trophy – Qualification
Connor Coles 11, Ben Morley 11, Arran Butcher 10, Ben Trigger 10, Tom Woolley 8, Danno Verge 7, Chris Watts 5, Sam Woolley 4, James Laker 3, Jamie Sealey 2, Vinny Branch 0, Morgan Williams 0.
First – Connor Coles, Second – Arran Butcher, Third – Ben Morley, Fourth – Ben Trigger (fell).
Flat Out With The Flat Trackers
First – Jack Bell, Second – Mike Goodfellow, Third – Joe Banks, Fourth – Sam Hirst, Fifth – Jack Noble, Sixth – Billy Smith.