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  • Rob Dyer

Result: Surrey Sliders Take Best Pairs Title As Danno Verge Announces Retirement


Fans were treated to another packed night of racing as the Wightlink Warriors staged their annual Best Pairs competition, however even before a wheel had been turned in anger, Warriors’ Island based racer Danno Verge stunned the crowd when it was announced on parade, that this meeting was to be his last at the track, ahead of his retirement at the end of the current season.


With family and other outside commitments demanding more time than ever, there was no better way for the Island favourite to bow out, with a competition win in partnership with Kelsey Dugard (pictured with Dugard in the blue helmet leading Verge in red) as the pair representing the ‘Surrey Sliders’ over came Henry Atkins and Chris Watts on behalf of ‘Richardson Racing.’ The Sliders were in super form throughout and fully deserved the win, however individual star of the show was Atkins with a faultless seven ride maximum that included a spectacular mix of fast starting and fearless passing, which climaxed as the stadium was plunged into darkness for the closing and unexpected firework display, courtesy of Greg Daniels.


There was certainly no lack of ambition or determination amongst the six pairs on the night, as evidenced by some high-speed crashes for Ben Morley, Rhys Naylor and George Congreve – the later even managing to flip his bike when a celebration wheelie went alarmingly wrong! Fortunately, there was no lasting damage to the riders, although some of the machinery was clearly in need of significant major repair.


Third place was determined by the outcome of the head-to-head, when the losing semi-finalists met during the qualification rounds and saw Naylor and Chad Wirtzfeld of ‘The Leonard Daniels Lions’ outscore Connor Coles and James Laker of the ‘A.R.H Heathens’ by 5 points to 4.


In the support event for Flat Track racers, Jake Edey (#999) was again in super form completing four stylish victories.


Speaking after the meeting, Wightlink Warriors co-owner Barry Bishop summarised a hectic day as he said, “ Well that was a full-on day as we woke up to overnight rain and the prospect of having to call things off, however, with a positive weather forecast for late morning onwards, our brilliant track team rose to the challenge of clearing the standing water and whilst a little greasy to start with, the circuit held up well and we had more super speedway and flat track.


My thanks to Mark Cooper for his invaluable sponsorship, to Greg Daniels for the face paint, fireworks and sweets, the six individual team managers, the riders for 100% effort and our terrific volunteers and helpers for pulling together with one or two of our key people missing.


Finally, just a quick word for Danno on his announcement. We will miss his on-track presence and all that he gives to the club. With lots happening for him on a personal basis, putting speedway riding on the back burner is quite understandable, however with young Jack (Scully Syer) making rapid strides we know Danno and his family will be here supporting and encouraging Jack on to bigger and better things.”


Qualifying Scorers:


Surrey Sliders 29 (Kelsey Dugard 18, Danno Verge 11+4)

Richardson Racing 28 (Henry Atkins 20, Chris Watts 8)

A.R. H Heathens 22 (Connor Coles 19, James Laker 3+1)

Leonard Daniels Lions 20 (Rhys Naylor 10+2, Chad Wirtzfeld 10+1)

London Loonies Juniors 17 (George Congreve 13, Jamie Sealey 4+2)

Red Spanner Racing 15 (Ben Morley 13, Morgan Williams 2)


Semi-Final 1: Kelsey Dugard, Danno Verge, Chad Wirtzfeld, Rhys Naylor (fell, exc.) (Sliders 7 Lions 2)

Semi-Final 2: Henry Atkins, Connor Coles, Chris Watts, James Laker (Richardson Racing 6 Heathens 3)

Final: Henry Atkins, Danno Verge, Kelsey Dugard, Chris Watts (Sliders 5 Richardson Racing 4)