Kent Kings 53-36 Belle Vue Colts
Kent Kings 53-36 Belle Vue Colts

Three maximums (two full and one moral!) and the three points needed to keep on track for the top four with some fastest times set by a number of the Kings’ outfit, all added up to a successful evening’s work at Central Park Stadium on Monday, as the reigning champions effectively surrendered their Travel Plus Tours National League title when Kent beat Belle Vue by 53 points to 36. 

But the jinx affecting the Kings’ number one race jacket in recent weeks struck with full sickening force again – the latest incumbent, Maidstone-based Paul Hurry coming to grief in a heat 10 crash which left the former GB World Team Cup rider with multiple injuries.  The diagnosis revealed by the Kent management on Tuesday morning includes a dislocated kneecap, two broken bones in his wrist and rib and back injuries – adding up to season-ending scenario and leaving team boss Chris Hunt with a major headache going into the vital last TPTNL match at Buxton on Sunday week, promptly to be followed by the Knockout Cup semis and hopefully a Play Off semi final also.

That aim of finishing in the top four remains on course with the SLYDE-sponsored Kings still ensconced in second place in the table after an emphatic win over the Manchester club.  The full maximums were both first ones of their kind at this level for Anders Rowe (12 points from his four programmed rides) and skipper Jack Thomas, who scored a full house 15 from five rides for the first time.

10 September 2018 may turn out to be remembered as the day teenager Rowe really moved up from a rider of huge promise to a real star at this level – his winning time in heat one was a full one and a half seconds (at 57.8) faster than his previous best; and he went on to reel off three more untroubled race victories with his wins in heats 6 & 8 being respectively his second and third fastest times around his home Central Park circuit.  Skipper Jack Thomas meanwhile was lightning fast out of the traps to go through his four programmed rides with a faultless record too.  Then, picked for the nominated riders race, Thomas gave himself more to do by seeing Kyle Bickley make the trap but reeled in the former World Junior Champion in imperious style to take the chequered flag and receive the traditional bumps.

The ’moral’ maximum was Nathan Stoneman’s.  The Welsh dragon was also breathing fire – with his race win in heat 3 setting a new personal best and then promptly beating that two heats later: a sizzling time of 58.3.  It seemed that a long-time hoodoo which has always conspired to deny the hugely entertaining Stoneman a first maximum in Kent colours was finally going to be put to rest until a sickening judder at the start of heat 12 saw him stranded at the tapes as they rose and again his maximum hopes were dashed.  Undaunted though, he returned to partner Thomas in heat 15 – repeating the trick of coming from behind Bickley to ensure the Kings finished as they’d started the match with a 5-1.

The calamitous injury to Hurry came in heat 10.  Already having crashed out in his previous ride (in an incident which caused damage to his bike) and mounted this time on Stoneman’s second machine, Hurry was in active pursuit of the Colts’ lively looking Guest , Henry Atkins when he clipped the youngster’s rear wheel and went over highside.  With Hurry’s well-known history of a serious injury suffered a few years back, there was clear anxiety when removed from the circuit by ambulance and it seems the concerns were founded.  Also an injury victim was Taylor Hampshire who was far from himself after bravely carrying on after being taken down by rookie Ben Woodhull in his first outing.

Belle Vue had three Central Park first timers in their ranks.  Woodhull was one and the pointless Kean Dicken another – but the third, Paul Bowen had an excellent evening, being the only Colt to win two races and impressing the large crowd. The crowd were also hugely generous in their applause of the only other time a Belle Vue man got to the chequered flag first – last minute stand in as Guest for the depleted north-westerners, Danno Verge thrilling his many old friends in the stadium with an emphatic tapes to flag victory in heat 15.

So, now it will be onto Buxton on Sunday the 23rd. where just a point will be enough to clinch play off qualification – though actually matches before then could settle matters in Kent’s favour if any of their three opponents for the remaining three play off places (Birmingham, Eastbourne and Coventry) falter in the matches they currently have in hand.

In terms of the next home action, that’s the Tunnel Trophy traditionally contested between Speedway teams from Kent and either Rye House or Arena Essex/Lakeside from the other side of the Dartford Crossing. As fate has determined matters this time it’s effectively to be contested against a club from both those locations at once.  The Lakeside Hammers ride their final ever match at Arena Essex on this coming Friday (the long-established motorsports venue in Thurrock having been sold for redevelopment) and move to their new home at Rye House in Hertfordshire the following day – so the new Leaside-based Lakeside Hammers’ first away foray after this move will be to Central Park on Monday 17th. September (6.30pm start time) for what is sure to be a historic as well as a hugely competitive local derby fixture with the Tunnel Trophy at stake.  Riding for the Hammers will be former Kings’ favourite Ben Morley plus Alfie Bowtell and a NL-level select to be announced.

Kent SLYDE Kings                                                                                                                              53

Paul Hurry                                           2*           FX           FX           withdrew – inj.                 2+1

Anders Rowe                                     3              3              3              3                                              12 [M]

Nathan Stoneman                           3              3              3              EF           2*                           11+1

Taylor Hampshire                             1              0              R             1*                                           2+1
Jack Thomas                                       3              3              3              3              3                              15 [M]
William O’Keefe                               1*           1              0              2                                              4+1
Alex Spooner                                     2              1              2*           2              0                              7+1

Belle Vue Colts                                                                                                                                  36

Kyle Bickley                                        1              2              X             2              2              1              8

Ben Woodhull                                   R             X             1*           1              1*                           3+2

Rider Replacement-  Jack Smith

Danno Verge [G]                              2              2              1*           1              3                              9+1

Henry Atkins [G]                              2              2              2              2              1*           0              9+1

Paul Bowen                                        3              F              1*           3                                              7+1

Kean Dicken                                       0♢          0              0♢          0                                              0


Heat details

  1. Rowe, Hurry, Bickley, Woodhull (ret) 57.8 (5-1)
  2. (re-run) Bowen, Spooner, O’Keefe, Dicken♢ 60.5 (8-4)
  3. (re-run) Stoneman, Verge, Hampshire, Woodhull (fell exc.) 58.8 (12-6)
  4. Thomas, Atkins, Spooner, Dicken 59.1 (16-8)
  5. (re-run) Stoneman, Bickley, Woodhull, Hampshire 58.3 (19-11)
  6. (re-run) Rowe, Atkins, Hurry (fell exc), Bowen (f. exc NUP) 58.8 (22-13)
  7. (awarded) Thomas, Verge, O’Keefe, Bickley (f.exc) no time (26-15)
  8. (re-run) Rowe, Spooner, Woodhull, Dicken♢ 59.3 (31-16)
  9. Stoneman, Atkins, Bowen, Hampshire (ret) 59.1 (34-19)

10.(re-run) (awarded) Rowe, Atkins, Verge, Hurry (f.exc) no time (37-22)

  1. Thomas, Bickley, Woodhull, O’Keefe (f.rem) 60.3 (40-25)
  2. Bowen, Spooner, Verge, Stoneman (ret) 62.0 (42-29)
  3. Thomas, Bickley, Atkins, Spooner 59.8 (45-32)
  4. Verge, O’Keefe, Hampshire, Dicken 61.9 (48-35)
  5. Thomas, Stoneman, Bickley, Atkins 59.2 (53-36)