Wednesday May 23, 2018
The “BP Mitchell” Rockets achieved a modicum of revenge – and also the important restoration of their pride – in outpacing Swindon 51-39 in their Knock-Out Cup quarter-final tie at Rye House on Wednesday night, although they bowed out of the competition by a clear 98-82 margin on aggregate.

The Rockets needed to come out all guns blazing if they were to have any chance of living the impossible dream of reeling in the Robins’ 28 point first leg advantage – and they duly, if briefly, gave the Robins the fright of their lives as the combos of Aaron Summers-Chris Harris and Kevin Doolan-Max Clegg fired 5-1s in the first two races.

A 4-2, when Scott Nicholls and Clegg finished either side of Tobias Musielak, quickly followed in Heat 4, and it then looked as though Krzysztof Kasprzak and Edward Kennett would unite for a further 5-1 – a result that would have halved Swindon’s first leg advantage with only five races gone - only for Nick Morris to find the smallest of gaps between Kennett and the fourth bend safety fence to power past for second spot in dramatic fashion right on the line.

It was to prove a turning point, with Adam Ellis and Zach Wajtknecht following up in combination for a 5-1 in Heat 8 to pull the score back to 28-20, and although Kasprzak and Kennett responded with a 4-2 over Musielak just four laps later, three successive heat advantages in the Robins’ favour quickly wrapped up the tie on aggregate - and even gave Swindon hope of catching the Rockets on the night, at 38-34.

Fortunately, the Rockets finished the match the way they had started, with Harris and Nicholls maxing out in a Heat 13 that was awarded after Morris had come to grief, and Kennett and Doolan achieving the same result in the next race following David Bellego’s second lap fall while holding second spot.

Batchelor took the finale for the visitors to round out a strong personal performance, with Nicholls and Harris following him home to finish as joint-top scorers for Rye with paid 13. Max Clegg was a further stand-out, with his paid 5 haul his best of the season so far. In all, six different Rockets won races, with all seven paid for at least one heat win.

Talking after the match, Rye House No.1 Chris Harris accepted that, “The damage was done at Swindon in the first leg to be fair, but we started off really well here tonight. They came back at us towards the end, which reflects what a great team they’ve got, but it was still a good win for us, and we’ll move on to our next match.

“I think that tonight is the first meeting I’ve had this season where I haven’t damaged a bike or blown an engine. Hopefully my luck will begin to turn now, and I can start enjoying the racing.”

Bomber also singled out Max Clegg for praise. The 21 year old has endured a rough start to the season, but will himself be hoping his season is turning now. “Max rode really well. The track was probably more suited to him tonight, to be fair, although it suited us all. We just keep telling him that he’s got to enjoy it; that there’s no pressure on him and he needs to believe in himself. He’s just got to keep doing what he’s doing, enjoy it, and the points will come.”

And signing off with a look ahead to Bank Holiday Monday’s nationally televised battle against King’s Lynn, he ended: '“It’s going to be a tough one. They’ve shown that through their results so far. But we’re up for it, especially after tonight. The confidence will be high, so we’re looking forward to it.”

“BP Mitchell” Rockets:
Chris Harris 12+1 (5 rides), Scott Nicholls 11+2 (5), Krzysztof Kasprzak 8 (4), Edward Kennett 7+1 (4), Kevin Doolan (guest) 6 (4), Max Clegg 4+1 (4), Aaron Summers 3 (4).

Swindon: Troy Batchelor 12+1 (5 rides), Tobiasz Musielak 7 (4), Adam Ellis 6 (5), Zach Wajtknecht 5+2 (4), David Bellego 4+1 (4), Nick Morris 4 (4), Jack Smith 1 (4).