Wightlink Islanders went out at the first hurdle in last night’s National league Four-Team Championship. They were drawn in group A against Hackney, Mildenhall and Dudley where group winners Mildenhall were beaten in the final by Dudley winning their first silverware.
Heat 1 saw Danny Warwick suffer mechanical problems while lying 3rd, he faced similar problems in heat 11 where he gated but pulled up on the final bend of the first lap. Skipper Nick Simmons took a fall while trying to round Mildenhall’s Lewis Blackbird ending up disqualified from the re-run heat and was only able to manage a 3rd place in his other ride behind Jon Armstrong and Jack Hargreaves.
Rob Smith was another faller for the Islanders in heat 5 after locking up on the 4th bend of the 2nd lap. Hargreaves was forced to lay his bike down and again the unlucky Islander was disqualified from the re-run heat. His remaining ride brought a 3rd place behind Blackbird and Ben Morley in heat 15.
The rider to put a smile on the faces of team managers Chris Hunt and Kevin Shepherd was Paul Starke who won both his outings. Heat 3 being the first after going under Cameron Heeps out of the 4th turn first lap and his second win came in heat 13 from Richard Franklin, Joe Jacobs and Ben Hopwood.
Meanwhile in group B, Belle Vue ran out winners just piping host club Stoke by 2 points. In the final Dudley ran out winners with 15 points from Belle Vue 12 and third placed Stoke 12 after all riders had completed 2 rides each. The meeting result was called after a short delay due to electrical problems taking the meeting past curfew time.
Islanders co-promoter Shepherd said, “It was good to see Paul back on form after Tuesday, if the two exclusions had gone our way rather than Mildenhall’s way then potentially we could of been in the final, the decisions were very dubious. It was a very disappointing night, Danny was in scoring positions when he hit problems which again cost us points.”
Sunday afternoon sees a return to South Wales to tackle Newport who beat the Islanders in their KO Cup fixture 53-40 that afternoon but it wasn’t enough to see the Hornets through to the next round. The meeting gets underway at 2.30pm with the Islanders unchanged from the side that lost at home against Stoke on Tuesday.
“I’m full of optimism for today at Newport, if Paul carries on the way he started today and Danny can sort out his bike problems then there is no reason why we can’t put in a good show and come away with a point at least,” concluded Shepherd.