Familiar faces for Kent Royals
Familiar faces for Kent Royals

There are five very familiar faces in the Kent Iwade Garage Royals side who take to track at Central Park on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon: four returning from their last National League campaign (in 2019 of course after 2020 became a written off season); and a local face whose been in and around the club since Speedway opened at the track and starts a season in the Kent race jacket for the first time in five years.

Captaining the Royals as he did the Kings when they took the National Trophy in 2019 and finished runners up in the League is Maidstone-based Rob Ledwith.  Very much the senior campaigner both in terms of experience and age, 49-year old Rob who burst back into the professional ranks after claiming the 2018 GB Veterans title at Lydd is bursting with confidence that 2021 will cement the impact he made on that return to league racing after a 25 year gap in 2019.

“After an enforced year out to take stock and look at what I did in that first season back in 2019 – what I did well, what I did not so well and what other riders have been doing – I really feel that I am going to get on my bike and go faster than in that last season.  My gating was improving towards the end of 2019 after we changed clutches and sharpened up my technique so if I can carry that on, along with gaining more speed it should bode well for this campaign with the new Royals’ side.

“I may sound bizarre to be almost reaching my half century and feeling like I’ve not hit my peak but now in this stage of my career I have very good machinery and fantastic support and as captain and senior member of this hugely talented team I have the important responsibility to lead us.  We aim to start as we mean to go on in the crucial opener against old rivals Eastbourne”

The three charges of Ledwith’s from 2019 back in the Kent NL side (albeit under the new team name of Royals this time) are Dan Gilkes, Jacob Clouting and Jake Mulford.

It’s a busy Bank Holiday weekend for the teenaged Mulford who is also competing in his first love of Grasstrack over in the eastern part of the county at the Battle of Britain meeting at Frittenden on Sunday.  Mulford has also already had the chance to blow away the cobwebs after a largely missing 18 months when he made his Championship debut up at Glasgow last weekend – appearing in the reserve berth for the senior TouchTec Kings side and scoring a creditable three points.

The 17 year old got that opportunity because his Royals’ team mate (who turned 18 earlier this month) Dan Gilkes was on an even longer racing trip than to Scotland, crossing several borders to head to central Europe to competre in the European U19s semi in Hungary.

Completing the quartet of returnees from 2019 in the Kent side aiming to go one better in the NL this season is Jacob Clouting, who competed when opportunities arose on what amateur and training tracks there were running in 2020 and is determined this year to really nail down a team slot with what is his only club.

“This season it’s time to get going and to move up the team.  I feel like I’m really ready to do so”.

And joining the Iwade Garage-sponsored Royals after a late-ish invite to the party is Faversham-based Jamie Couzins who was last a King in 2018 but had his main season in the Invicta race jacket back in 2015.

“Kent is my local club as I live literally just down the road, so it’s really good that I’m back as part of the team.

“I had a great 2020, unlike so many others, as I was able to ride for the new amateur side Crayford who rode several matches at Lydd and that has really held me in good stead for this return to NL racing.

“With Kent now having this two tier system of the Royals side at development league level backing up the Championship side, it’s great for us youngsters to have the likes of Kings’ skipper, former Grand Prix rider Scott Nicholls and the other experienced lads  who can be relied on to give us help”.

The Iwade Garage Royals get the chance to kick start the return of Speedway to Central Park on Bank Holiday Monday versus Eastbourne Seagulls in the National League on Bank Holiday afternoon – 4pm start time.

Due to Covid restrictions the meeting is advance tickets only and fans can purchase these on Sunday 30th (12 noon-3pm).  Personal callers are welcome or by ‘phone to 01795 475547