Kent Kings set for Young Stars tests
Kent Kings set for Young Stars tests

With just one Travel Plus National League [TPNL] match contested so far going into the third week of May, it’s time very much to get the league campaign moving for the Kent SLYDE Kings.

They are in pursuit of a third play-off qualification in four seasons starts in earnest with back-to-back matches against the King’s Lynn Young Stars.

On Wednesday the SLYDE-backed Kings travel up into Norfolk for their first away TPNL match of the season and before that the Young Stars visit Central Park on Monday (15/5).

For the homesters, this match comes just over 24 hours after the National Trophy away fixture at Mildenhall and Chris Hunt will have Ben Hopwood available again after the free-scoring heat-leader missed the trip to Suffolk due to recently acquired SGB Championship duties with Newcastle. For Anders Rowe (still less than a week after his all-important 15th. birthday) it’s a TPNL debut.

The visitors have had so far a 2017 to forget – being struck down by shocking misfortune. Their troubles began before even two wheels were slid, when their marquee signing and proposed number one, Kyle Hughes retired on the eve of the season after failing to heal sufficiently from injuries sustained last season when racing for Mildenhall and previously Eastbourne – ironically being injured both times against the Kent SLYDE Kings.

Then last Sunday newcomer in their ranks for 2017 and installed as skipper, former Cradley & Stoke rider Danny Phillips was involved in a horrific crash riding for the Young Stars at Mildenhall, suffering multiple fractures to his femur and broken bones in his lower back. Everyone at Kent Kings and the Speedway world as a whole wish Danny a full and as speedy as possible recovery.

The loss of Phillips and the lack of a third heat leader due to Hughes’ withdrawal from proceedings have left the Young Stars’ team manager, Scott Campos in an invidious situation. Campos has a place in Kent Speedway history having appeared in the very first meeting at Central Park, riding for the USA Select – the USA being the homeland of his father. Campos was scheduled to make the move from riding to team management this term but absences in his Young Stars’ squad have seen him take to the track as cover – he may yet decide to do so on Monday.

If he does not and with Phillips’ injuries, it would mean the likelihood of a combination of the Rider Replacement and Guest facilities bolstering the King’s Lynn line up.

At number one though will be someone who’s very much a King’s Lynn man through and through – now stand-in skipper also, Josh Bailey. Bailey has a good record at Central Park including taking third place in the GB U-21 semi there last season.

Another one club man in TPNL terms in the visitors’ ranks is Ryan Kinsley and completing the line up will be a trio of ‘three pointers’: former GB Youth champion at 250cc, Lewis Whitmore; the Maidstone-based rider who appeared for Rye House Raiders last term, Connor Locke; and a Central Park first-timer, the hugely promising teenager Taylor Hampshire.

The first of the two encounters in a week with the Young Stars is on Monday 15th. May at Central Park Stadium – gates open at 5pm; tapes up for heat one at 6.30pm.

Pictures supplied by Elizabeth Leslie.