Saturday 31 March, 2012
STOKE Easy Rider Potters overturned a ten point deficit to gain a hard fought 46-44 victory over the Isle of Wight in the first leg of the Wightlink Trophy.

The Potters got off to a slow start as the Islanders gained two 4-2 heat advantages in the opening two heats as they also provided three of the opening four race winners Richie Worrall gaining the Potters first heat win in heat four from Gary Cottham and Ben Hopwood for a drawn heat after Stoke reserve Ben Reade fell on the third lap while having a superb dual with Cottham for second place as the Islanders led 14-10 after four heats.

There was then a delay as the stadium suffered a power failure and when power was eventually restored the Islanders piled on the pressure with a 4-2 from former Potter Tim Webster and Marc Owen and then a 5-1 in heat seven from Paul Starke and Danny Warwick over Richie Worrall to leave the Potters trailing 26-16 at the midway point of the meeting.

The Easy Rider Potters seemed to then spring to life with a 4-2 from Jaimie Pickard and Ben Reade over Marc Owen in heat eight Pickard holding off Owen in a superb race to take victory with Reade managing to overhaul Gary Cottham at the end of the first lap. Potters skipper Tony Atkin and guest Oliver Greenwood combined for a second 4-2 heat advantage in heat nine over Ben Hopwood and Danny Stoneman and this was followed in heat ten with a maximum 5-1 heat advantage from Ashley Birks and Pickard over the Islanders Starke after Danny Warwick had previously been disqualified for falling in the first running of the race to reduce the Islanders lead to just two points after ten races.

Richie Worrall missed the gate in heat eleven but rode superbly to come from last to first to take victory from Webster and Owen.

Stoke took the lead for the first time of the meeting in heat thirteen as Worrall took victory from Birks after the Potters number one managed to pass Tim Webster coming off the final turn of lap three to take second place and give the Potters a 40-38 lead with two heats remaining.

Oliver Greenwood and Ben Reade looked to have sealed victory for the Potters in heat fourteen as the duo were on for maximum points before Reade who was leading comfortably suffered an engine failure resulting in a drawn heat.

Worrall was disqualified in heat fifteen after falling on the third turn of lap one leaving lone Potter Ashley Birks up against Webster and Warwick and the new Potters number one promptly took victory from Webster with Warwick third for a drawn heat giving the Potters a narrow 46-44 victory over the Islanders.

Potters new boy Ashley Birks commented "We got together mid meeting and had a word with each other, obviously when it is your first meeting it does get a bit nerve wrecking and all the boys were a bit nervous I wasn't as I've been riding consistently this season but most for most of these guys it was their first meeting of the season and they all wanted to do well in our opening meeting at home. We dropped some silly points early on in the meeting which did not help us for instance I started on the wrong gearing and it's one mistake I won't be making again here now I know and I did start to win races at the right time. To be fair I was not making gates all night but we tried a few different things and got them right in the end. I altered the clutch in the final race after seeing Tim get the drop on me in the initial running of the race and it paid dividends as it drove me hard into the first turn and I managed to get the drop on Tim who was a heat leader here last season with Stoke. I do feel there is a lot of potential in the team and I feel we just need to get some meetings under our belts now and things will then fall into place."

Easy Rider Potters team manager Malcolm Vasey said "It was a slow start by us in fact I don't think Stoke started racing until around heat seven but once we got going there was only one team in the meeting. We gifted them a lot of points tonight so let's take heart from that and the fighting spirit and tremendous effort by the lads to give us victory on the night illustrates that we have got the same team spirit as we had at the beginning of last season and this time I think we can really do well. I think there is going to be some great speedway down here at Loomer Road this season. Everyone did their best tonight I do feel we have to be a little patient with Dan (Berwick) because he's not ridden speedway for a year and he was on a brand new engine that he has spent a great deal of money on and it was completely new to him and he improved as the night went on and I think we will see a different Dan Berwick next time we are here. We did give them quite a few points though tonight Jaimie (Pickard) falling and Richie (Worrall) himself falling in heat fifteen, Ben (Reade) had an engine failure while we were on for a 5-1 that would have settled the match and you can look back and see where we could have done so much better so easily and I'm feel very encouraged by our performance tonight. We now look forward to travelling to Dudley on Tuesday night the Heathens have some very good riders as we do and if anyone likes there speedway raw well Monmore Green is the place to be on Tuesday night for what should be a great night's entertainment."

Stoke 46: Ashley Birks 13+1, Richie Worrall 10, Tony Atkin 7+2, Oliver Greenwood 6, Jaimie Pickard 5+1, Ben Reade 5, Daniel Berwick 0

Isle of Wight 44: Tim Webster 11, Danny Warwick 9+2, Paul Starke 6, Marc Owen 5+1, Gary Cottham 5, Ben Hopwood 4+2, Danny Stoneman 4+1