The 2018 season saw the 'Wightlink Warriors' continue to provide 'fun filled family nights out' where the speedway was a part of the family show. The race nights included access to the pit areas, 12 mascots of all ages demonstrating their skills on track using bikes ranging from electric to 500cc, rider autographs, rider’s bikes on display, vintage bikes on display, educational book club, William our bear, a children’s half time race and lots of other inclusive events throughout the year.
As a team the 'Wightlink Warriors' had its most successful year since Martin and I returned the club 3 seasons ago. The 'Wightlink Warriors' competed in 21 home meetings and 14 away, the team finished two places higher in the league, scoring more league points and more racing points for the club. It was a tremendous turnaround from the 2017 season which saw
the team finish in 10th position. The atmosphere within the club was one of positivity and fun, proclaiming the Island, our team and its ethos everywhere we travelled and on race day at home.
The club won major honours in 2018 with victory for the Warriors Captain Ben Morley in the National League Riders Championship, and he was joined on the podium by teammate Alfie Bowtell who finished second – A 'Wightlink Warriors' 1 – 2, a first for speedway, and simply amazing.
The 'Wightlink Wizards' entered for the first time into the Southern Development League, a league designed to teach riders how to race and is a perfect stepping stone for riders of the club’s school My First Skid to have their first experiences of racing. From the offset, we decided that all riders must have come through our school or be from the Isle of Wight. We entered the league with a squad of 7 riders including 3 Islanders, one of which was female. The team stuck to its squad system all year, taking two notable victories on the way over the Weymouth 'Wildcats' and finished 4th from 5 in the league.
2018 was a tremendous year and included history making moments such as; Morgan Williams, the first person born on the Island to score points for an Island team and Steph Whitlock became the first female Islander to score points in a SCB registered speedway meeting. Truly a remarkable achievement for My First Skid and the 'Wightlink Wizards'. My First Skid continued to grow and gain further recognition throughout the sport. The school hosts everyone from those living the dream through to seasoned professionals looking to test something. The age groups of our students range from 4 – 78 and it continues to be a remarkable success.
The school stages speedway schools both on the Island and at speedway stadiums across the UK. The school has not only brought people from across the UK to the Island but has genuinely found new riders from the Island for the sport. It can also claim to have a World Championship Silver Medallist with 15-year-old student Chad Wirtzfeld claiming second in the 250cc Under 18 World Long Track Best Pairs in Germany. Chad will also be a 'Wightlink Warrior' and 'Wightlink Wizard' in 2019.
The Stadium continued to be improved with an increased area for wheelchair users, a refurbished fast food bar, continual track and fencing improvement, the re-birth of Bella the motorway blade – to improve the smoothness of the track surface, repainted many areas, improved access to the track from the pits and more. This will of course continue as we strive to
enforce one of our pledges to always make the club be the best it can be.
In the community – the club attended 20 different Island shows including a live riding display at the Chale Show, the Survivors lap for the Cancer Research UK IOW Relay for life event and the Isle of Wight Day Parade, where we also entered a team into the Isle of Wight day It’s a Knockout event. We attended many schools and groups demonstrating our bikes and equipment to pupils and group members enabling us to initiate the “bring my class” incentive, which was a tremendous success. We continued to promote and represent the Island, the club, our sponsors and fans, as often as we could both on and off the Island.
Great Britain’s Young Lions – continuing our support for the GB Young Lions we hosted some 30 riders at the start of the season in February where they had 2 days on track riding and a day in the gym and classroom learning about fitness, diet, media and interview techniques. The club also welcomed a GB Young Lions team to the Island in August for a challenge match – which the 'Wightlink Warriors' won.
In all, a season which our profile and standing within speedway grew, a season which our fan base grew, and a season which
made history, our best season to date.
2018 WARRIORS STARTING LINE-UP
Scott Campos, Chris Widman,
Ben Hopwood (Captain on bike),
Adam Portwood, Ben Morley,
Jamie Sealey & Danno Verge (Kneeling)
Image by Sportography
2018 WARRIORS FINISHING LINE-UP
Jamie Sealey, Danno Verge
Alfie Bowtell, Ben Morley (Captain),
Scott Campos, Chris Widman
Image by Sportography
BEN MORLEY : CAPTAIN - STARTING AVERAGE : 9.49 - FINISHING AVERAGE : 9.13
DATE OF BIRTH : 10 March 1994 - Southend, Essex.
(2009-10) Rye House II, (2011) Rye House, Hackney, (2012) Rye House II, (2013) Kent, (2014) Lakeside, Kent, (2015) Redcar, Kent (Pairs Champion & National League Rider Champion), (2016) Lakeside, Rye House, Rye House II (Four-Team Championship
winner), (2017) Rye House, Lakeside, (2018) Lakeside, Isle of Wight
One of the top performers in the National League during the 2017 season, Ben signed to lead the Warriors at No.1 and didn't disappoint. Quickly mastering the large Smallbrook circuit, he became a machine for points scoring both home and away, and was a regular winner of both heat 13 & 15. Taking over the Captaincy mid season, he was a rock solid figure in the pits, always seen helping and chatting to his team mates. Also riding in the Championship League for Lakeside, Ben had another superb season in both leagues, and impressed with his commitment and professionalism throughout.
ALFIE BOWTELL - STARTING AVERAGE : 6.65 - FINISHING AVERAGE : 9.24
DATE OF BIRTH : 23 January 1997 - Chelmsford, Essex.
(2015) Rye House II, (2016) Mildenhall, (2017) Newcastle, Lakeside, (2018) Lakeside, Cradley, Isle of Wight.
After starting the season without a club, Alfie soon found himself in demand as he lined up for Lakeside in the Championship League, Cradley in the National Trophy and signing for the Warriors mid season. After starting his Warriors career with a fantastic 17 from 6 rides, Alfie settled into the team nicely finishing the season as the Warriors No.1. He put over 2.5 points on his average, and formed a winning partnership with Ben Morley in many heats 13 & 15 both home and away. The 'find' of the season without a doubt.
SCOTT CAMPOS - STARTING AVERAGE : 6.35 - FINISHING AVERAGE : 6.28
DATE OF BIRTH : 1 May 1989 - Ipswich, Suffolk.
(2004) Mildenhall, Rye House II, (2005) Mildenhall, Boston, (2006) Boston, (2007) Oxford II, (2009-16) King’s Lynn II, (2017) Isle of Wight, King’s Lynn II, (2018) Isle of Wight.
Scott returned to the Island having answered the clubs 2017 SOS call midway through the season. His form and speed improved with every meeting, and he finished the campaign with a solid average and cemented himself as the Warriors third heat leader. Providing vital backup to Ben and Alfie, Scott was a formidable force on the Island, and his experience both on and off track was freely shared amongst his fellow team mates. Along with his scoring power, his calmness, professionalism, approachable demeanour and wealth of knowledge for the sport saw him elected as the 'go to' guy in the pits for help and advice.
DANNO VERGE - STARTING AVERAGE : 4.49 - FINISHING AVERAGE : 4.83
DATE OF BIRTH : 26 March 1996 - Greenwich, London.
(2014) Scunthorpe II, (2015-16) Kent, (2017) Mildenhall (National Trophy winner), (2018) Isle of Wight
After expressing an interest to become a Warrior in the past Danno got the call and set about his goal, to improve his average and tame the beast that is the Smallbrook circuit. Known in the past as a small track rider, Danno attacked the Smallbrook circuit, improving his starting average and remaining in the main body of the team for the duration of the season. Danno soon found his way into the hearts of the Warriors faithful becoming a firm fans favourite, and enjoyed every minute of the campaign on the Island.
CHRIS WIDMAN - STARTING AVERAGE : 4.26 - FINISHING AVERAGE : 3.32
DATE OF BIRTH : 25 March 1990 - Leicester, Leicestershire.
(2005) Scunthorpe, (2008) Boston, (2009-10) King’s Lynn II, (2011) Belle Vue II, (2012) Buxton, (2013) King’s Lynn II, Isle Of Wight (National Trophy winner), (2014-15) Stoke, (2016) Isle of Wight, Mildenhall, Stoke, (2017-18) Isle of Wight
It wouldn't be the Warriors without Widders who returned for his third season under Barry and his Father Martin. With a calm, laid back approach to his riding yet determined on track, Chris maintained his second string position in the team despite a difficult season on track for Chris personally. A wrist injury towards the end of the season hampered his progress however being a true member of the Warrior family in more ways than one, Chris showed his commitment to the cause and rode through the pain barrier to finish the season with the Warriors.
SHAUN TEDHAM - STARTING AVERAGE : 3.08 - FINISHING AVERAGE : 3.00
DATE OF BIRTH : 4 August 1980 - Southport, Lancashire.
(2013) Stoke, (2015-17) Stoke, (2018) Isle of Wight
(2013) Midland Riders Development League Champion
Shaun joined the Warriors a few meetings into the season, slotting into the reserve berth bringing much experience and potential to the bottom end of the team. After taking a few meetings to settle in on track, Shaun embraced the 'Warrior Way' and soon got the fans cheering and screaming with support. Often seen talking to the fans and signing autographs, Shaun wasn't fazed by the Smallbrook track, and gained speed with every meeting and ended the campaign as a solid reserve.
JAMIE BURSILL - STARTING AVERAGE : 3.00 - FINISHING AVERAGE : 3.00
DATE OF BIRTH : 15th November 2000 - Chertsey, Surry.
(2018) Isle of Wight
Jamie finally placed a Warriors race jacket over his shoulders with the knowledge he fully earn't it with many miles, guest bookings and practise laps put in. Spending the 2017 season as the Warriors No.8 after trials at the Warriors press & practise day, Jamie kept his focus on improvement and took every opportunity to race his bike up and down the country not only guesting for the Warriors, but competing in the SDL league also. His speed and experience increased all the time once he joined the Warriors in the reserve berth towards the end of the season with a string of great performances.
JAMIE SEALEY - STARTING AVERAGE : 3.00 FINISHING AVERAGE : 3.00
DATE OF BIRTH : 6 July 1989 - Basingstoke, Hampshire.
(2017-18) Isle of Wight
Winning over the hearts and cheers of the Warriors faithful in 2017, Jamie was a popular return signing for the 2018 season. Maximum effort was always given for the cause, extra rides always taken when needed and with an unwavered determination to succeed, Jamie took the remaining Warrior race jacket and slotted back into his reserve berth. Unfortunately suffering a mid season injury, Jamie was rested from the team to bring in the more experienced Shaun. However, once fit, Jamie returned to the saddle and led the Islands Wizards team whilst also taking part in the Warriors Individual meetings held on the Island.
WARRIORS GUESTS DURING THE 2018 SEASON
Jason Edwards - Ben Hopwood - Taylor Hampshire - Callum Walker - Ryan Terry-Daley - Dale Lamb
Nick Laurence - William O'Keefe - Connor King - Josh Embleton - James Chatting - Sam Woods
Connor Fletcher - Jamie Couzins - Chris Watts