Appleton's The Master But Wizard Heartbreak
The first of Wightlink Warriors Summer Spectacular meetings proved to be master class of track skill from former British Grasstrack Masters Champion Andrew Appleton (pictured) as he scorched to five impressive wins in front of an appreciative crowd at the Smallbrook Stadium last night.
The return of track sport to the Island was headlined by the first of three rounds of the Island Masters series - a grasstrack meeting on shale – and the twelve riders didn’t disappoint a very healthy crowd as they battled hard to reach the winner takes all Grand Final. On a night of 27 races the Masters meeting also included a gripping six heat development meeting between the Wightlink Wizards and Weymouth Wildcats and a further six heats of races looking to the future and giving the youngster track time in front of an audience.
Whilst former Reading and Oxford speedway star Appleton produced lightning starts to earn his wins he did have stern competition from Danish rider Jacob Buckhave and the two served up a terrific race in the Grand Final – indeed the three finals (C, B & A) certainly didn’t disappoint as all the riders gave their all right to the end. Also impressing were Tony Atkin and Rob Fortune whilst Wightlink Warrior Chad Wirtzfeld found plenty of speed to clinch the B Final on the night.
As to the Wightlink Wizards, their battle to tame the Wildcats went to the final bend of the final heat and for all the world it looked as if the home team were about to secure the 5-1 result that would have seen them take a win, however with Jamie Sealey well clear at the front, Wroxall based Morgan Williams appeared to tire on the final two corners and slide to the ground allowing two relieved Wildcats riders through for a drawn heat that clinched the meeting 17-19 in favour of the visitors.
Mention also for the PeeWee and 125 cc riders who opened the evening and especially to Kye Elliott from St. Helens (IOW) who scored an impressive 7 points to take the ’Les and Lesley (Midland Fans)’ Junior Rider Of The Night award.
Warriors’ co-owner Barry Bishop wore a big smile after the meeting as he said, “Wow. What a night 30 races, bags of action both on and off track, super crowd, magic finals. The night had almost everything Martin and I could have wanted and we were so close to complete perfection until Morgan’s slip in the Wizards meeting.
I’ve got to say we have worked so hard for this night. We’ve had many battles and we have achieved what we set out do. That is provided affordable family entertainment in a safe and pleasant environment. Right now I’m just a bit speechless and completely shattered but tomorrow we’ll be back at it and I can’t for next Thursday when we can do it all again with the Wightlink Warriors”.
Island Masters – Round 1 Result:
Qualifying Scores - Andrew Appleton 12, Jacob Buckhave 11, Tony Atkin 10, Rob Fortune 9, Mitch Godden 7, Charley Powell 6, Chad Wirtzfeld 6, Nigel Coates 4, David Hollingsbee 3, Eric Pike 2, Dean Cutler 1, Barry Coates 1.
C Final – Eric Pike, Dean Cutler, David Hollingsbee, Barry Coates
B Final – Chad Wirtzfeld, Charley Powell, Mitch Godden, Nigel Coates
A Final – Andrew Appleton, Jacob Buckhave, Tony Atkin, Rob Fortune
Wightlink Wizards Challenge
Wightlink Wizards 17 (Jamie Sealey 8, Jamie Evans 6+1, Morgan Williams 3, Eli Meadows 0)
Weymouth Wildcats 19 (Bailey Fellows 7+1, James Laker 5, Max Pankhurst 4+1, Sam Peters 3)