Saturday April 22, 2017
It had been billed by the BMR Rockets themselves in the build-up as “The Big One”. It proved just that, on a night of tension and drama played out in front of another big Hoddesdon crowd.

When it was over, Rye House had seen off a mid-match comeback from perennial high flyers Poole to notch up another SGB Premiership victory – 49-44 – and make another statement to the rest of the League on their clear ambitions this season.

As in the previous week’s victory over A10 arch rivals King’s Lynn, Team Manager Peter Schroeck had challenged his side to build a healthy early lead, to leave the opposition chasing the match. They responded then, and they did so again here.

Rob Branford and Ellis Perks gave the Rockets the quick advantage with a 5-1 over Nicolai Klindt and the falling James Shanes in Heat 2, before Chris “Bomber” Harris kept Rye in front with a trademark from-the-back display to take second place from Jack Holder in Heat 3, Brady Kurtz’s victory making the score 10-8.

New Rocket Ricky Wells finished at the rear of the field in that one, but did not take long to make his mark in the Black, Chrome and Orange as he surged from last to first to win Heat 5. “Bomber” was quick to join him with another overtake, this one on the second lap past 2014 World No.2 Krzysztof Kasprzak to hand Rye a 5-1 – and another followed in a sensational Heat 6 as Stuart Robson cut back from the outside on the first bend to join Edward Kennett in front of Hans Andersen and Klindt.

That elevated the progressive score to 23-13, only for Kurtz to successfully don the black and white Tactical Ride helmet cover in Heat 7. With Holder keeping Scott Nicholls at bay for second spot, much of the Rockets’ hard work was undone in the space of just four laps as the resulting 8-1 brought Poole right back into contention, at 24-21.

The Pirates were nearly in front after the next heat, with only Robson’s fourth bend switch back inside Bradley Wilson-Dean to follow home Klindt preventing another Dorset maximum, before the Rockets regained control.

Harris won Heat 9 – once again from the back as he picked off both Klindt (lap 1) and Andersen (lap 3) for victory. With Wells also working his way past Klindt, the resulting 4-2 provided a little bit more breathing space.

There was a lot more fresh air between the sides once Kennett and Robson had outpaced Kurtz and a falling Holder four laps later, and with the two teams exchanging 4-2s – and Harris once again claiming the victory in Heat 12 the hard way, with a third lap pass of Holder – the Rockets led 41-34 and were happy to share the next two stanzas to ensure the overall victory.

A 4-2 to Poole in the finale ensured that a deserved consolation point would head back to Dorset, but the main three remained in Hertfordshire.

Six different Rockets contributed at least one paid race victory, with new addition Wells providing a healthy 6 points in the engine room of that mix. Another key contributor was Stuart Robson, whose paid 10 tally continued his drive back to form after a mixed start to the season. Speaking afterwards, “Robbo” said, “It was a really tough meeting. Poole kept us on our toes all night.

“That 8-1 off the black and white messed us up a bit. If it had been a 5-1, it wouldn’t have been so bad; we could have handled that, but we kind of lost our way for a couple of races before we managed to pull it back together.”

Regarding conventional 5-1s, Robbo had this to say about THAT cut-back in Heat 6: “Eddie (Kennett) made a perfect start off gate one, but I didn’t quite get as much of a jump or the run that I needed on Hans (Andersen). It wasn’t going to work for me trying the run round the outside, so I saw the move straight away, eased off a bit and cut back. I got my racing line quickly, ran it out and left enough room for Eddie to come through. Hans tried to follow him, which I didn’t realise until we had a little bit of contact coming into the (next) corner. We both had a bit of a wobble – in fact, it was a bit of a fright, to be honest with you! – but we both stayed on and luckily it went my way as well.”

Reflecting on his campaign to date, he continued: “The first few meetings this season, I struggled to get into the racing as much as I needed to. My last couple of rides at Swindon proved a bit of a turning point for me. What happened, I don’t know, but I just started to relax on the bike, to feel more comfortable, and I was more confident with that. I got a win and it’s just gone from there. That one win made a big difference.”

The next stop for the BMR Rockets is Monmore Green on Monday as they face a return match against reigning champions Wolverhampton, and the 2016 Rider of the Year is quietly confident that they can get a positive result. “It’s a great track, and consistently good for a long time now. All the boys like it, and obviously Ricky (Wells) has been a Wolves asset for quite a few years now, and it will be good to get a few tips from him as to what the home boys might use and do in order to help us!

“We all like Wolverhampton, and we’ve had good meetings there as individuals. It’s down to what happens on the night. We just need to go there and start off well, guns blazing at the beginning.”

BMR Rockets:
Edward Kennett 11+1 (5 rides), Chris Harris 10+1 (5), Stuart Robson 7+3 (4), Scott Nicholls 7 (4), Ricky Wells 6 (4), Ellis Perks 4+2 (4), Robert Branford 4+1 (4).

Brady Kurtz 16 (5 rides, inc 6 as a TR), Krzysztof Kasprzak 9 (5), Hans Andersen 6 (4), Jack Holder 5+1 (4), Bradley Wilson-Dean 4 (4), Nicolai Klindt 4 (5), James Shanes 0 (3).

Match Points: Rye House 3 Poole 1