Bumper crowd turns out as the Bandits launch 50th season
Berwick's own Claus Vissing emerged as the winner of the club's 50th season individual launch meeting.
Unfortunately, the weather did its best to spoil the party, with rain in the latter part of the evening, following a downpour earlier in the day, meaning fans were denied the opportunity of an all or nothing final shoot-out.
Vissing, who had won four of his five races - he fell in his other outing - was declared the winner on countback after he and Edinburgh’s Ricky Wells both topped the scorecharts on 12 points. Wells had two wins and three second places to amass his total.
Joining them on the podium was Glasgow’s Richie Worrall, who had 11 points, which included three victories.
A large crowd turned out to witness the start of a new era for Berwick Speedway, and they were witness to some decent racing on a track which held up well under the testing conditions.
Other riders to feature prominently in the field included Newcastle’s Stevie Worrall, Redcar’s Jason Garrity and Sheffield’s Josh Grajczonek, who all scored ten points, although Worrall could probably feel most aggrieved after he was denied a possible fourth race win which ultimately could have earned him the title.
In his third outing, and after two impressive opening heat wins, he was harshly excluded for a first bend coming together with Berwick’s Ryan Blacklock.
This was a night which was all about the club, however, including the visit of several riders who have represented the club over the previous 49 years.
There was also an official cutting of the tape by former promoter Kenny Taylor, whose parents Danny and Liz originally introduced the sport to Shielfield back in 1968.
After the meeting a delighted new Berwick co-promoter Scott Courtney said: “We couldn’t have wished for a better opening night! The rain caused us a few issues during the day but we were confident that the track would sustain it and it did just that.
“The meeting meant a lot to so many people associated with Berwick Speedway and I can’t thank everyone enough for their hard work and support. Speedway is a team effort in every way and I am very proud of what we achieved together.
“Claus did a fantastic job taking the win on a points tally as the rain managed to scupper any chance of seeing a final race, but we got through 20 heats successfully and I’d like to personally thank all the riders too. There was no complaints from the lads and everyone got stuck in.”
Following his win Vissing said: “It was a great way for me to start the season, but I am hoping this is just the start of what will be a successful year for me and the club.
“I didn’t have the best of seasons at Workington last year, so this justifies my decision to come back - although in truth I think I probably knew that as soon as I walked through the door for press and practice last weekend and was welcomed so warmly by everyone.
“This is a track I know well. I like racing on it and it seems to suit my style.
“I just want to have a good season, but of course I also have some ambitions, and one of those is to try and win back the number one race jacket here again.
“We have some good riders here, and there will be strong competition for the top spot, but I think I have shown I am up to the challenge.”
Individual points scorers from Saturday were:
C Vissing 12, R Wells 12, R Worrall 11, S Worrall 10, J Garrity 10, J Grajczonek 10, L Bridger 9, D Berge 8, K Doolan 8, A Summers 7, U Ostergaard 6, D Gappmaier 5, R Blacklock 4, A Scornicki 3, J Sarjeant 3, L Carr 2, P Cooper (Res 0).
* This weekend Berwick embark on team racing with home and away challenge fixtures against old rivals Newcastle in the Tyne-Tweed Trophy. The clubs will meet in the first leg at Shielfield on Saturday, with the return at Brough Park on Sunday.