Monday May 07, 2018
A scintillating five ride maximum from captain Scott Nicholls helped the “BP Mitchell” Rockets see off Somerset 48-42 in an exciting SGB Premiership encounter in front of a bumper Bank Holiday Monday crowd at Rye House.

The 7-times British Champion reeled off four straight wins – twice lowering the colours of World Champion Jason Doyle in the process – before tucking in behind team mate Krzysztof Kasprzak (and once again ahead of Doyle) in the finale as the Rockets secured the victory.

Rye always seemed to have the upper hand from the moment that Aaron Summers and Chris Harris jetted ahead of Jake Allen and Doyle in the opener. That race was halted on the second lap when Allen tangled with Harris when trying to take second place, the collision putting both riders in the air fence and Allen out of the meeting with a minor head injury, although it appears that the Australian escaped without concussion.

Harris won the re-run, with Summers briefly putting Doyle under pressure for second spot, and although the Rebels levelled with a 4-2 of their own in Heat 2, the Rockets were quickly back in front – this time to stay – four laps later, with Krzysztof Kasprzak winning effortlessly from the tapes and Edward Kennett taking the harder route in picking off Jack Holder and Charles Wright to join him at the front of the field.

A 4-2 from Nicholls and Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, who finished either side of Wright in Heat 7, extended the Hertfordshire side’s advantage to 24-18 and set up a memorable Heat 9 for which Doyle was pitched in as a Tactical Substitute alongside Richard Lawson to face Kasprzak and Kennett. It took SIX attempts to complete the race – surely some kind of record? – with the first three efforts called back as unsatisfactory starts; the fourth when Doyle hit the deck after a tight first bend with Kennett and the fifth when the World Champion fell on his own after being passed by Kaspzak. The Pole looked to have the final staging wrapped up by quickly overhauling Lawson, only to see the Brit steam under him on the second lap as the Rebels escaped with a 3-3.

The Rockets’ lead was cut to 31-29 as Harris fell when holding second spot in the next race, handing leader Wright and Holder an awarded 5-1, but they edged their advantage back up to 6 points following 4-2s spearheaded by Nicholls over Doyle in Heats 11 and 13.

A tremendous piece of team riding in Heat 14 from Holder and Bradley Wilson-Dean to keep NBJ at bay and bag a 5-1 gave the Rebels brief hope of a last gasp comeback, with a consolation away match point guaranteed, only for Kasprzak and Nicholls to slam the door shut again in the race that mattered most.

As a delighted Nicholls said afterwards, “We got there in the end. It was a very hot day, with a few re-starts, but the key thing is we got the win. It’s a shame we didn’t send them away pointless. We really should have taken advantage of a couple of situations. But there was a good crowd, some brilliant racing and, most importantly, a vital win for us.

“This season is a long way from over. Early doors, we had a couple of shockers away from home, but we went up against a couple of very good home teams, and in-form teams as well. You can’t dwell on that too much. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, and we showed our class at home today which is the main thing. We want to pick up some away results – of course we do – but the season has been very stop-start, with a lot of rain-offs, and a lot of the riders haven’t really got themselves in a groove yet. But we’ll be on a bit of a busy run now, and I’m sure that will change.”

And Scott’s thoughts on going through the card? “Obviously, I’m really pleased. I haven’t had a maximum for a little while, and to do that against a class team like Somerset, with the reigning World Champion in there, was extra special. It was very much a team effort, and I am very much a team man, but on a personal, selfish level, yes, I am delighted to get a maximum!”

Wednesday night will see Nicholls and fellow Rocket Chris Harris competing in the Premiership Riders’ Championship at Poole. The Rye House captain has lifted no less than seven national titles, but this is one that has so far eluded him. “Yes, the Riders’ Championship has got away from me over the years. I’ve turned up to every meeting wanting to win, and I’ve been close on a few occasions, so it would be nice to put that one in the cabinet!”

BP Mitchell Rockets:

Scott Nicholls 14+1 (5 rides, maximum), Krzysztof Kasprzak 13 (5), Chris Harris 7 (4), Aaron Summers 5 (4), Nicolaj Busk Jakobsen 5 (5), Edward Kennett 4+3 (4), Max Clegg 0 (3).


Jason Doyle 9 (6 rides), Charles Wright 8 (4), Bradley Wilson-Dean 7+3 (5), Richard Lawson 7 (4), Jack Holder 6+1 (5), Jonas Jeppesen 5+2 (5), Jake Allen 0 (1).

Match Points: Rye House 3 Somerset 1