With lightening illuminating the skies around the Andrew Younie Smallbrook Stadium, home hero Alfie Bowtell produced his own flash of lightening as he sped from the tapes to win the Vincent’s Motorcycle and Antiques Handicap Challenge.
Round one of this Challenge staged a month ago produced passing aplenty and with the majority of the original field invited back for round two, hopes were high that the top level of action would be repeated and that certainly proved to be the case.
With riders starting from staggered starts it was soon evident that this was going to be another exciting night as Ellis Perks (Plymouth) worked his way through the pack from the back to win heat one. Heat two saw Taylor Hampshire (Kent) use his favourable handicap to his advantage to take the race ahead of Island captain Ben Morley and Bowtell needed to be patient as he weaved his way to the front in heat three.
The pattern had been set and the subsequent qualifying races all had action and incident for the healthy crowd to chew over. Indeed, this really was a meeting where EVERY rider had ‘sixty seconds of fame’ even the Warriors lesser lights of Shaun Tedham, Jamie Bursill and Jamie Sealey who found themselves out front and working so hard to keep the hard chargers at bay. Kent youngster Alex Spooner falls into this category as well.
In a turn of events that was positive for the overall good of the meeting, one or two surprises were thrown up in the qualification races. Coventry rider Luke Ruddick will have been disappointed to have scored just two points - albeit his 30 metre handicaps did not help – whilst the up and coming Bursill will have been delighted to have reached the semi-final stage following a consistent set of races and a victory in heat six.
Hampshire led the qualification score chart ahead of Bowtell, Scott Campos, Perks and Morley with Hampshire taking semi-final one after a ding dong contest with Morley (the round one winner). The second semi-final went to Bowtell after some more wheel to wheel action with Perks.
And so to the Final, a race that on paper was so even that it was almost impossible to call. With a top quality line-up all starting from the gate, choice of position was important and so it proved as Bowtell made an electric start from gate four to lead his rivals round turns one and two. Perks made a cute move to ease Morley aside and from then on it was Bowtell and Perks who served up a terrific heat of skill and speed. On a couple of occasions Perks looked as if he may just have edged in front but with Bowtell driving hard around the outside and only centimetres from the fence the new home number one took the chequered flag and top spot on the rostrum.
After the meeting a very happy Bowtell said “I put everything into making that start. I was concentrating hard, knew what I had to do and had good speed. Riding on the Island has been a huge help. Winning races is so good for building confidence and things here are really good”.
Final Result: 1st Alfie Bowtell, 2nd Ellis Perks, 3rd Ben Morley, 4th Taylor Hampshire.
Other scorers: Jamie Sealey 1, Tom Woolley 5, Jamie Bursill 5, Alex Spooner 7, Luke Ruddick 2, Scott Campos 9, Danno Verge 4, Shaun Tedham 1.