New Zealand hot-shot Bradley Wilson-Dean turned on the style at Arlington stadium on Sunday afternoon earning himself the first of what could be many titles, the 2015 Champion of Sussex.
Wilson-Dean has only been on these shores a matter of weeks but he has already built up a substantial army of admirers, and his glowing reputation was only enhanced at the weekend as he took on all comers, with five faultless wins and a 15-point maximum that saw the 19-year old’s name added to the prestigious role of honour.
Largely as expected, the new look ‘IT First’ Eagles, dominated the top end of the scorechart, experienced campaigners Danny Warwick slotting into the runners up slot with 12 points.
A particularly pleasing aspect for the Sussex fans, and the teams future prospects, would surely have been the sight of skipper David Mason, in his first match of the season having been ruled out of the clubs opening home and away clashes with the Kent Kings due to illness, taking third place.
Mason, like Warwick, also finished on 12 points, a total matched by fourth placed Richard Andrews, who produced another impressive performance in Eastbourne colours, the riders finishing order being determined by numbers of heat wins, Warwick and Mason both having recorded three to Andrews’ two, the former getting the drop by virtue of the fact that Warwick triumphed over Mason when the pair met each other in heat fourteen.
Popular Eagle Marc Owen also notched double figures, 11 points to take fifth place overall, as did super reserve Georgie Wood who totalled 10 points for sixth, though the latter could well have finished higher up the order, Wood having been left ruing a thirteenth heat exclusion following a fall when seemingly on course for a comfortable victory.
Indeed race thirteen was to prove unlucky, not only for Wood, but for all of its contestants. Kelsey Dugard was ruled out for entire meeting after picking an alarming spill, which led to a mild concussion.
Niall Strudwick followed suit with a tumble at the third bend, seeing him disqualified from the run. Third Eagle Wood comfortably ahead of his only remaining opponent, Adam Sheppard, but he parted company with his machine and his efforts to remount being thwarted by the swift ignition of the red stop lights by meeting referee Dan Holt.
With two laps not having been completed and three riders now frozen out of action this resulted in the rare, borderline bizarre sight of Sheppard coming out alone to complete the four laps, taking the three-points in what must surely rank, 85.2 seconds as the slowest ever winning time at the Sussex venue.
This was one of a number of talking points of what was to prove a lively and entertaining meeting but Wilson-Dean, with five text book outings, was the star of the show. His first ride in heat four saw him come home ahead of team partner Owen, his second, race seven witnessed him a clear winner against the unattached Nick Laurence, who rode impressively in the early part to finish in seventh place overall.
Heat ten saw Wilson-Dean triumph over his new captain Mason and then the sixteen saw him keep the ever pressing efforts from Andrews in check. His final race saw him beat Wood and Warwick.
Scorers: 1st. Bradley Wilson-Dean 15, 2nd. Danny Warwick, 3rd. David Mason 12, 4th. Richard Andrews 12, 5th. Marc Owen 11, 6th. Georgie Wood 10, 7th. Nick Laurence 7, 8th. Danny Ayres 6, 8th. Ryan Terry Daley 6, 8th. Charley Powell 6, 8th. Adam Sheppard 6, 12th. Niall Strudwick 4, 12th. Sam Heath 4, 14th Saul Bulley 2, 15th. Sam Darroch 1, 16th. Kelsey Dugard.