Kent Kings 51-38 Belle Vue Colts
Kent Kings 51-38 Belle Vue Colts

Bathed in Spring Sittingbourne sunshine and watched by a large holiday crowd, the Kent TouchTec Kings roared to an emphatic win over Belle Vue Colts to win this Easter Challenge and open the seventh season of Speedway at Central Park Stadium on Monday.

With double points returns from three of their home debutants, the only down side of the afternoon was losing fellow new signing Nathan Ablitt to suspected concussion after a heavy coming together with the safety fence in his second ride – bringing a premature halt to the 15-year-old’s debut and leading to a trip away from Central Park in the county ambulance.

His reserve colleague Dan Gilkes had a busier afternoon than expected as a result – following up his hugely impressive opening two race wins with four further rides where his scoring was only restricted by a couple of prangs of his own.  The first of those race wins for Gilkes was in the much anticipated heat two when the expected challenge of Belle Vue’s own highly rated teenaged newcomer Jordan Palin actually didn’t materialise with fellow Central Park first-time Ben Rathbone instead splitting the Kings’ pairing.

That 4-2 put the homesters into a six points lead following on as it did from an emphatic 5-1 from Kemp and new skipper Rob Ledwith .  That feat was repeated twice more in heats 6 & 10 showing what a potent spearhead at numbers one and two Kemp and Ledwith seem poised to be in the forthcoming National League campaign.  

The lightning fast and assertive Ledwith was to drop only one point to an opposing rider and that only when heat eight was cut prematurely short after first Gilkes hit the fence (in roughly the same spot that had ended young Ablitt’s meeting four races earlier) but carried on but the Manchester side’s Ben Woodhull came to a sudden stop leading to the race being awarded with the improving in every outing, Palin at this juncture just fractionally ahead of the Kent skipper.

Kemp went close to a maximum also, winning all four of his programmed rides before making some adjustments before the nominated rider’s race saw him partnered with Ledwith again, only to miss the gate completely and though doing brilliantly to get past Kyle Bickley on the final lap, there was just fractionally too little track left in the four laps to overhaul Danny Phillips.

Jordan Jenkins and Anders Rowe both saw their scoring restricted by mechanical misfortunes – Rowe’s being a painful one too whipped by a snapping primary chain in an unlucky heat 13.  Rowe had previously been involved in two great races (against Bickley in heat 4 and Leon Flint in heat 11), only for falls at the back to scupper his chances of ultimate race success.

Alex Spooner was solidity personified with four second places including a brilliant pair of passes in heat five to move up from fourth.

Rob Ledwith was buzzing after such a successful afternoon personally and for his charges,,

“I’m thrilled to be captaining such a brilliant young team and today we really showed how much we have to look forward to given the Colts were many people’s title favourites in the National League.  I do feel I have a lot to prove, being the older fella amongst such a group of young riders. At Plymouth I tried to go out at Gas Mark 9, so to speak, and realised I was too close to boiling point. So I set out today to turn it down to Gas Mark 7 and ease myself in rather more, have more awareness of what’s going on, bide my time a bit – so to score 11+3 makes it a fantastic day for me personally as well as for the team.  It was not an easy day – I struggled to get the bike turning in my 1st two heats but I was trapping well with it and knew the bike would give me a better ride as the track got slicker. I’m thrilled with the heat 15 win, which topped off a great day and has done my confidence the world of good. We’re hoping Nathan Ablitt’s ok after a nasty fall on the 2nd bend – we need him back on his bike as soon as possible; he’s a real talent we don’t want to be without for him too long.”

There is a fortnight for Ablitt to recover with the TouchTec Kings not in action again until the May Day Bank Holiday, Monday 6/5/19 when the opposition will be the Thurrock Hammers starring former Kings’ captain and reigning NL Riders Champion, Ben Morley.


Kent TouchTec Kings 51

Drew Kemp 3, 3, 3, 3, 1 13

Rob Ledwith 2’, 2’, 2, 2’, 3 11+3

Jordan Jenkins R, 1’, 1’, 2 4+2

Alex Spooner 2, 2, 2, 2 8

Anders Rowe 2, 0, 2, 1 5

Dan Gilkes 3, 3, 1’, FX, 1’, 1’ 9+3

Nathan Ablitt 1, FX (withdrawn – injured) 1


Belle Vue Colts 38

Leon Flint 1, 3, 3, 0 7

Ben Woodhull R, 1, 0, FX, FX 1

Danny Phillips  3, 1’, 1, 3, 2 10+1

Paul Bowen – Rider Replacement

Kyle Bickley 3, 1, 3, 2, 0 9

Ben Rathbone 2, 0, FX, F, 0 2

Jordan Palin 0, 1, 2, 3, 0, 3 9


Heat Results

1 Kemp, Ledwith, Flint, Woodhull (ret.)  58.1 [5-1]

2 Gilkes, Rathbone, Ablitt, Palin  58.7 [9-3]

3 Phillips, Spooner, Woodhull, Jenkins (EF) 59.4   [11-7]

4 (rerun twice) Bickley, Rowe, Palin, Ablitt (fell, exc.) 59.4 [13-11]  

5 Flint, Spooner, Jenkins, Woodhull  59.7 [16-14]

6 Kemp, Ledwith, Bickley, Rathbone  57.9 [21-15]

7 Gilkes, Palin, Phillips, Rowe  59.1 [24-18]

8 (awarded) Palin, Ledwith, Gilkes, Woodhull (fell, exc.) no time  [27-21]

9 (awarded) Bickley, Spooner, Jenkins, Rathbone (fell, exc.)  no time [30-24]

10 Kemp, Ledwith, Phillips, Palin  58.9 [35-25]

11 (rerun twice) Flint, Rowe, Gilkes (fell, exc.), Woodhull (fell, exc.)  59.3 [37-28]

12 Phillips, Jenkins, Gilkes, Rathbone (fell) 60.5  [40-31]

13 Kemp, Bickley, Rowe, Flint  59.3 [44-33]

14 Palin, Spooner, Gilkes, Rathbone  59.7 [47-36]

15 Ledwith, Phillips, Kemp, Bickley  59.1 [51-38]