Reading have been backed by league bosses over a dispute during their match on Monday night. Team managers Gene Carter and Mat Stevens questioned the legality of a rider switch by Isle of Wight, when they pulled Ben Ilsley out of the last heat in their match at Swindon, and replaced him with 15 year old Chad Wirtzfeld, their top scoring rider on the night. With the Racers 4 points behind and needing a maximum heat win to finish with a draw, the co managers claimed if the rider wasn't injured then he couldn't be replaced. Carter had a lengthy debate with referee Ronnie Allen who insisted there was nothing in the rules to stop them making the change. Wirtzfeld went on to win the heat ahead of the Racers pair of Sam Norris and Adam Sheppard, with his team mate Jamie Sealey at the back. This resulted in a final score of 20-16 to the Wizards. However when the Midland & Southern League Co-ordinator Laurence Rogers was consulted the next day, he confirmed that if Ilsley was fit to continue, he couldn't be replaced, and therefore deducted the points that Wirtzfeld scored in that race. The official score will now be Reading 16 IOW 17 as the remaining 3 riders in the race are not moved up a place (this would have resulted in a draw). Bizarrely this means Reading were denied the draw by a rider who technically wasn't in the race and scored no points. Carter commented;
"This league is more about developing riders than winning, but it's human nature, and almost everyone involved wants to win, including us. The Wizards management believed it to be within the rules, and apparently it's been done to them in the past, but if nobody cared about losing, then team bosses wouldn't be replacing riders to gain an advantage. So we won't deny we are disappointed to lose a match due to a rule break, but if that's the rule, we accept it. Although we'll be gutted if we lose the league by 1 point!"
Monday's amended match details:
Reading 16 Norris 9, Sheppard 5+2, Laker 2+1
IOW 17 J Sealey 2+1,C Watts 5, B Ilsley 1, C Wirtzfeld 9.
Ht 1. Norris, Sheppard, Watts, Sealey. Ht 2. Wirtzfeld, Sheppard, Laker, Ilsley. Ht 3. Wirtzfeld, Norris, Ilsley, Laker. Ht 4. Watts, Sealey, Laker, Sheppard ef. Ht5. Wirtzfeld, Norris, Watts, Laker. Ht 6. 2nd Norris, 3rd Sheppard, 4th Sealey.