Kent Kings 41-49 Redcar Bears
Kent Kings 41-49 Redcar Bears

After a break of 28 days since the last action at Central Park, Kent TouchTec Kings went down to a eight point defeat to a Redcar Bears side in an encounter which showed how strength in depth and choice of guest can be vital to succeeding in the SGB Championship.

The visitors went into this fixture without 2019 Kings’ riders Anders Rowe (knee ligaments) and Jordan Jenkins (broken wrist) along with Jordan Stewart (collarbone and shoulder injuries) with the depleted Teessiders calling upon another 2019 King Drew Kemp to guest at reserve. 

The twice GB U19 national champion turned in an impressive 11+2 return including a thrilling race with Kent number 1 Scott Nicholls to show why he is rated so highly currently.  For the Kings, captain Nicholls and Rider of the Night Paul Starke both scored 13 points but unluckily the total mustered overall by the hosts saw them come up short overall.

The meeting got off to a frustratingly truncated start with six restarts in the first five heats – four for unsatisfactory starts and all for the visitors with Sarjeant (twice), Palin and Palm-Toft all incurring the wrath of the match referee for misdemeanours at the starting line.

The incident however which caused the most debate was a heat three clash between Paul Starke and Redcar’s Aussie, Jake Allen.  The pair were embroiled in a thrilling scrap going into lap two with Allen in the lead but the Kings’ rider Starke seemingly the quicker, chasing the Queenslander  down. As the pair exited the second bend, Starke made a move up the inside and caught Allen moving wide, Allen seemed unsettled down the backstraight and fell at the entrance to turn 3. Initially, the referee excluded the visiting rider as the cause of the stoppage. 

However, in a highly unusual move, after consultation with other meeting officials including the machine examiner, there was a changed concluded verdict – that Allen’s fall was caused by his front wheel collapsing after the initial clash dislodged the front wheel spokes in Allen’s bike. So it was Starke disqualified from participating in the second rerun – much to the chagrin of a puzzled home crowd.

The re-run resulted in Redcar taking a maximum heat advantage and into a lead they were never to surrender. There was a Heat 5 side show to this drama when Paul Hurry went into the bottom turn hard under former British Champion Charles Wright who came down and once again it was the Kings’ rider who was deemed to be the cause of the resulting race stoppage.

Amongst the drama there were signs of hope for the TouchTec Kings.  Starke bounced back from his unlucky first ride exclusion to reel off four fantastic heat wins in tapes to flag fashion including a fantastic 5-1 heat advantage in Heat 6 with captain Scott Nicholls as they demonstrated a brilliant exhibition of high-speed team riding.

The race of the night, however, was surely Heat 10.  The visitors’ guest Kemp made the start over Nicholls and held off the seven times British Champion for the first lap but a clever switch back off the last bend from Nicholls inside Kemp as they entered the second lap showed that experience still counts for a lot in this game!  

Kent reserve Dan Gilkes took the remaining point which cut the gap to just two, but that was as good as it got for the home side as the visitors pulled away over the last five races. 

Kent TouchTec Kings                                    41

Scott Nicholls      3, 2′, 3, 2, 3                     = 13+1

Rider Replacement –  Tom Bacon

Paul Starke          X, 3, 3, 3, 3, 1                  = 13

Paul Hurry          0, 1, X, 1, 0                       = 2

Cameron Heeps   0, 2, 1, 0                         = 3

Ben Morley        2, 1′, 2, 0, 2                     = 7+1

Dan Gilkes           1′, 1, 0, 1, 0                     = 3+1

Redcar Bears                                                 49

Charles Wright  1′, 1′, 2′, 1                        = 5+3

James Sarjeant   2, T, 2, 3, 3                      = 10

Jake Allen           3, 3, Fx, 2, 3, 2                 = 13

Rider Replacement – Jordan Stewart

Michael Palm Toft  3, 0, 2, 3, 0                  = 8

Drew Kemp (G)   3, 2′, 1, 1, 2, 1′, 1            = 11+2

Jordan Palin (G)   0, 2′, 0, 0                        = 2+1

Heat Results

1 (rerun) Nicholls, Sarjeant, Wright, Hurry 57.7  [3-3]

2 (rerun) Kemp, Morley, Gilkes, Palin 57.3 [6-6]

3 (rerun twice) Allen, Kemp, Hurry, Starke (exc.),  Sarjeant  (exc, tapes) 57.8 [7-11]

4 (rerun) Toft, Palin, Gilkes, Heeps 58.3 [8-16]

5 (rerun) Starke, Sarjeant, Wright, Hurry (exc.) 57.6 [11-19]

6 Starke, Nicholls, Kemp, Toft 57.9 [16-20]

7 Allen, Heeps, Morley, Palin 58.1 [19-23]

8 Sarjeant, Morley, Kemp, Gilkes 58.6 [21-27]

9 Starke, Toft, Hurry, Palin 57.1 [25-29]

10 (rerun) Nicholls, Kemp, Gilkes, Allen (fell exc.) 58.0 [29-31]

11 Sarjeant, Wright, Heeps, Morley 58.8 [30-36]

12 Starke, Allen, Kemp, Gilkes 58.1 [33-39]

13 Toft, Nicholls, Wright, Heeps 57.6 [35-43]

14 Allen, Morley, Kemp, Hurry 59.4 [37-47]

15 Nicholls, Allen, Starke, Toft 58.5 [41-49]