Speedway back for Kent Royals
Speedway back for Kent Royals

After all the weather woes of earlier this month it’s a welcome sight to see blue skies above Central Park this morning and all is set fair for Bank Holiday afternoon Speedway racing as the sport finally returns to Central Park Stadium after an enforced absence of 19 months.

It’s National League action with a first outing on track of Kent’s new side contesting this tier of Speedway, the Kent Iwade Garage Royals.  There are club debuts for new number one, Ryan Kinsley and rookie reserve Josh Warren  – hooking up with the returning quintet of skipper Rob Ledwith, GB Under 19 international star Dan Gilkes, Jacob Clouting, Jake Mulford and from the Kings’ team of 2015, local rider Jamie Couzins.

There’s an echo of 2015 in the visitors Eastbourne’s line up too, with a change to their declared side seeing popular former Kings rider Danno Verge replace the stricken Henry Atkins in their 1-7.  Atkins has a troublesome shoulder injury which needs surgery and is likely to be out for the season and so Verge (who rode for Kent for two seasons in 2015 & ’16 and has more recently been a staple in the Isle of Wight side) makes an unexpected but welcome return to NL action.

For the Royals’ Jake Mulford, it’s already been a successful Bank Holiday weekend after his exploits at the big Battle of Britain Grasstrack meeting at Frittenden yesterday (Sunday 30/5) where he took third place in the main event, the 500cc Solos – finishing behind such luminaries as Edward Kennett and former European Champion and a rider well known to Kent fans from his own time as a Kings’ rider, James Shanes.

Of course all at the club and across the sport of Speedway in general are acutely aware of the reason there’s been such a gap in action and so before the meeting they’ll be a time to reflect and be silent to remember all those taken from us in this country and beyond due to the pandemic.  This tribute will also remember one of Kent Speedway’s favourite sons, the late Danny Ayres.  That will happen just after the parade of riders at 3.45pm with tapes up on the action at 4pm.  Gates open at 2.30pm and though the inside food outlets and bars are necessarily closed due to continuing restrictions there will be a Burger Van selling hot food and cold drinks.

The stadium office is open from 9am to take ticket bookings and customers (who will need an advance ticket as no payment on the door is allowed currently) should ‘phone  01795 475547 to secure their seat(s).

Teams (in alphabetical order);

Kent Iwade Garage Royals:

Jacob Clouting; Jamie Couzins; Dan Gilkes; Ryan Kinsley; Rob Ledwith (Captain); Jake Mulford; Josh Warren

Eastbourne Seagulls:

Nathan Ablitt; Richard Andrews (Captain); Connor King; Jake Knight; Nick Laurence; Danno Verge; Chad Wirtzfeld