Belle Vue speedway international Steve Worrall showed his Premiership class as he raced to victory in the inaugural NICE Challenge staged at the Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde last night. He shaded former Islander Paul Starke in a splendid climax to meeting full of competitive action and talking points.
The ambitious Warriors management have caused great surprise by actively co-operating with the NICE organisation, long time sponsors of speedway in Poland and headline backers of last night’s meeting, and a company looking to help the sport by finding ways of cost containment. To that end NICE provided a standard engine to all of last night’s riders together with a rear tyre and lubricants to level the playing field mechanically as much as possible and following two sessions of free practice, the riders were soon into close quarter action with little perceivable difference in on-track performance.
Despite the unfortunate enforced withdrawal of both exciting Scunthorpe riders (Danny Ayres and Ben Barker), a series of late night phone calls on Wednesday secured what turned out to be more than adequate replacements in the shape of Danish racer Jacob Bukhave and Australian Dakota Ballantyne. Their inclusion certainly gave an international flavour to the evening with both riders having their moments, Ballantyne in particular getting up from three falls to wow the appreciative crowd with a stylish win in his final outing.
Continuing the international theme, Polish racer Tomasz Orwat also showed plenty of potential and determination and it was easy to see why he won the equivalent event in his home country last year.
In the end the form book delivered with Worrall making fast starts, riding wide lines and commanding his races, however as expected Starke was always up there in the thick of the action and to many was the ‘Rider Of The Night’ for a his superb passing skills whilst only inches away from the air fence.
The Warrior contingent were far from disgraced and gained more valuable experience although Danno Verge will want to move on quickly as he struck up an instant affinity with the Smallbrook shale and air fence on more than one occasion.
After the meeting Warriors co-promoter said, “What a great night. I have just had riders, supporters and sponsors giving us huge praise and I will share more of the feedback soon, but suffice to say we had some tricky problems to overcome in the build up and the fact that we have come through with flying colours makes me so very proud”.