Paul Starke leads one of the races before fog caused the meet’s abandonment. Picture by Robin Crossley.
WIGHTLINK Islanders’ hopes of overturning Dudley Heathens in the second leg of their National League Knock-out Cup semi-final clash were ended last week — by fog.
Needing to overturn a substantial deficit, the Islanders were 21-15 down after six heats at Smallbrook Stadium when thick fog rolled in and referee Christina Turnbull had no choice but to abandon the meet.
Conditions were so bad that spectators could not see the far end of the track, and riders could not see ahead of them.
Following the meet, speedway authorities decided the clash would not be re-staged, and therefore Dudley progress to the final.
Islanders’ joint manager Kevin Shepherd said: "We fully accept the decision and have no complaints whatsoever.
"Having said that, we are of course disappointed not to be through to the cup final but there’s always next year."
Islanders’ riders turned their attention to individual glory on Tuesday night, as they took on other riders from around the National League to try to win the 2012 WPA Healthcare Trophy at Smallbrook.
And there was something for Islanders’ fans to cheer about when Paul Starke pulled off a stunning win.
He seemed certain to exit the meeting at the semi-final stage, with him trailing Australian teenager Brady Kurtz.
But Kurtz fell on the second lap causing the race to be stopped and he was excluded from taking part in the re-run, and Starke took full advantage by following home Stoke’s Simon Lambert to book his place in the final at the expense of team mate Ben Hopwood, who finished third.
Islanders’ skipper Danny Warwick recorded a tapes-to-flag victory in the second semi-final, was followed by Rye House Raider James Sargeant.
Lambert, having won all four of his heats and the first semi-final, looked certain to clinch the title but Starke had other ideas and took the lead early in the final, holding it to the finish. Lambert was second, with Sargeant third and Warwick fourth.
The event was also a fundraiser for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, with David Churchill, from WPA, presenting a cheque for £1,800.
David said: "We all had a great night of speedway .the racing was very competitive and the winner had to work very hard to keep the lead for the whole four laps.
Almost £400 was also raised for the Samantha Dickson brain tumour trust.