Barker helps The Gladiators stun The Lions

The Plymouth Westcolour Gladiators opened their 2022 Championship Home League programme last night with a stunning 60-30 victory over the 2019 Title winners and strongly fancied contenders for 2022 in the shape of the Leicester Lions.

It’s hard to recall a more complete performance by a Plymouth Speedway side in the recent past since the Club returned to action at The Coliseum; and certainly in the period since Owner/Promoter/Director Mark Phillips rescued the Club; and began what has been a quite incredible transformation on and off the Track. This was a massive statement of intent for the 2022 season and the Home Crowd loved every minute of it.

The build-up to the Match had been overshadowed by an unfortunate injury to Danish star Michael Palm-Toft who had suffered a concussion following a high speed crash at Peterborough on Monday evening whilst riding in a Premier League Fixture. With the Westcolour Gladiators already without their No 1 Edward Kennett; who is still awaiting a full diagnosis and operation on a nasty arm injury that has damaged existing plating in his arm and caused severe tendon and nerve damage to his hand and shoulders; had already called in the reliable Richard Lawson as a Guest rider; so were forced to use the Rider Replacement facility for Palm Toft. 

For those not regular Speedway fans, this allows fellow Team Members to share the R/R rides between them on the basis that the rider with the lowest average that is higher than the missing rider can take one ride, and the others are shared amongst the Team Members who have a lower average.

The remaining sextet all performed admirably and all recorded at least one race win. Following a 5-1 from Alfie Bowtell and Richard Lawson in Heat 1, that the Lions immediately pegged back with a 5-1 of their own in Heat 2, taking advantage of fast starts; the Westcolour Gladiators produced a power-packed display that had their Home support into raptures and no doubt sent shockwaves around the Speedway world watching on the Clubs excellent Live Streaming service Gladiators TV which is earning rave reviews; that match the progressive profile of the brand that Phillips and his hard working team of dedicated staff have been building over the past few years, ensuring that the Sport not only survives in the South West but grows and develops so impressively.

Whilst every Member of the Westcolour Gladiators Team delivered in excellent fashion; the star of the show was undoubtedly Cornish born Ben Barker who roared to a faultless 18 point 6 rider maximum, rolling back the years in exciting style often winning from the back with daring overtakes. He was wonderfully backed by Danish superstar Hans Andersen who combined some excellent fast starts with some outstanding team riding, an art form that is unique to the sport where a rider can shepherd and protect a less experienced rider side by side literally inches apart at high speed for 4 laps.

The Westcolour Gladiators reserves Dan Gilkes and Henry Atkins recovered fantastically from a 1-5 reverse in Heat 2, both showing maturity and a positive attitude well beyond their years to win vital Heats and both were excellent value for their point returns. Guest rider Richard Lawson chipped in with 2 key wins and a couple of third places in an 8 point return from 4 races, but it was perhaps a measure of the success of the form on the night of the Westcolour Gladiators second strings and reserves that he was not needed in final Heat 15 despite a solid and much appreciated points return.

If Barker took the top billing then a special word for Alfie Bowtell. A slow burner in some respects in the Sport, but one who has found his best ever form in Devon and who is maturing by the week with his strong and at times aggressive riding style winning his great support from the passionate and knowledgeable Home support who love his 100% commitment and efforts. If there is a more improved, popular and hard working rider in British Speedway at the moment, then it’s hard to find him.  

The Lions were truly sent packing with their tail between their legs, and despite some hard riding as always by Richie Worrall and Kyle Howarth, will be licking their wounds and wondering what went wrong. There is no doubt that Team Manager Stewart Dickson will soon have them back roaring at full throttle, but should the teams ultimately meet again in the end of season play offs; then the Westcolour Gladiators have surely laid down a powerful marker for the season ahead.

The Westcolour Gladiators return to action NEXT TUESDAY at The Coliseum in another potentially exciting encounter against the Scunthorpe Scorpions and it’s a match not to be missed with the Westcolour Gladiators again hoping to deliver a stinging blow to their rivals and build on this very impressive start. 

If you want excitement and action on a Tuesday night this summer then spread the word around Devon and Cornwall and the South West that this is the place to be!

Online Tickets are available from 10am today and can be purchased via the Club Website here.

Plymouth Gladiators = 60

1. Richard Lawson (Guest) – 3, 1, 3, 1 = 8

2. Alfie Bowtell – 2’, 3, 2’, 1, 1 = 9+2

3. Ben Barker – 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 18 FULL MAXIMUM

4. R/R for Michael Palm Toft (Hans – 2’, DG 2’, DG 2’, BB 3) = 9+3

5. Hans Andersen – 2’, 3, 2, 2’, 3 = 12+2

6. Henry Atkins – 1, 0, 3, 0 = 4

7. Dan Gilkes – 0, 1, 2’, 3, 2’, 1 = 9+2

Leicester Lions = 30

1. Nick Morris – 1, F/X, 1, 0 = 2

2. Connor Mountain – 0, 0, 0 = 0

3. Kyle Howarth – 1, 3, T/X, 2, R = 6

4. Dan Thompson – 0, 1, 2, 1’ = 4+1

5. Richie Worrall – 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 2 = 10

6. Anders Rowe – 3, 0, 1, 0, 0 = 4

7. Joe Thompson – 2’, 0, 0, 2 = 4+1

Scores & Heat Results

Heat 01: Lawson, Bowtell, Morris, Mountain 5-1, 5-1, 53.10

Heat 02: Rowe, J. Thompson, Atkins, Gilkes 1-5, 6-6, 51.28

Heat 03: Barker, Andersen, Howarth, D. Thompson 5-1, 11-7, 51.60

Heat 04: Andersen, Worrall, Gilkes, J. Thompson 4-2, 15-9, 51.54

Heat 05 Re-Run: Barker, Gilkes, Worrall 5-1, 20-10, 51.31

Heat 06: Bowtell, Worrall, Lawson, Rowe 4-2, 24-12, 51.41

Heat 07 Re-Run: Howarth, Andersen, D. Thompson, Atkins 2-4, 26-16, 51.22

Heat 08: Gilkes, Bowtell, Rowe, Mountain 5-1, 31-17, 52.37

Heat 09: Barker, Gilkes, Worrall, Rowe 5-1, 36-18, 52.72

Heat 10: Lawson, D. Thompson, Bowtell, Rowe 4-2, 40-20, 52.03

Heat 11: Atkins, Andersen, Morris, Mountain 5-1, 45-21, 52.44

Heat 12: Barker, Howarth, Gilkes, J. Thompson 4-2, 49-23, 52.78

Heat 13: Andersen, Worrall, Lawson, Morris 4-2, 53-25, 52.03

Heat 14: Barker, J. Thompson, D. Thompson, Atkins 3-3, 56-28, 52.19

Heat 15: Barker, Worrall, Bowtell, Howarth retired 4-2, 60-30, 52.06

Courtesy of Speedway Updates

Image Credit: Jon Sproad