Wednesday June 20, 2018
The “BP Mitchell” Rockets suffered their first home defeat of the season in going down 46-44 to Belle Vue in an enthralling encounter - just as it looked like they might complete a spirited fightback from 8 points down.

With Craig Cook, former Rocket Jason Garrity and reserve power-packet Damian Drozdz in fiery form, the Aces dominated early on to build a 19-11 advantage by Heat 5.

It seemed odds-on the Rockets would halve the deficit when Krzysztof Kasprzak took his second win of the evening in the next race, with Aaron Summers safely tucked in behind him from the start. Visiting captain Max Fricke had other ideas, however, cutting inside his fellow Aussie coming off the final bend to hold Rye to a 4-2.

That cued K.K.’s nomination as a tactical sub in Heat 7 – once a 30 minute delay to facilitate the setting sun because of visual problems for the riders heading into the third bend had subsided – and once again the Hertfordshire side initially looked on course for a 5-1, only this time for Rohan Tungate to drive between winner Nicholls and the Pole at the end of the opening lap to restrict the result to a 4-2 and make the progressive score 23-19.

The Rockets then played get-out-of-jail-cards in the next two races, won respectively by Garrity and Fricke, as both Drozdz and Jye Etheridge fell when second behind their partners, before Kasprzak and Summers gave Rye renewed hope with a 5-1 against Dan Bewley and Tungate in Heat 10 to bring the score level, at 30-30.

The Hoddesdon club suffered its own bad luck in the next race, however, with clear mass movement at the gate but Nicholls being penalised as the only rider actually caught by the rising tapes. His helmet peak was snagged in the process: once an acceptable part of the body, but no more – and the resultant 15 metre penalty set up Cook and Garrity for the maximum that put the Aces back in front.

A lightning start from Kasprzak in Heat 13, with Nicholls rounding the previously unbeaten Cook for third spot, offered fresh hope as the deficit narrowed back to just two points, but although the 2014 World also captured the nominated race with ease from Cook and Garrity, Nicholls took a tumble at the rear of the field on the opening lap to rule out any chance of one last push by the Rockets.

Rye House Team Manager Peter Schroeck was left deflated by the final sting in the tail to what had proven a night of twists and turns. “Yes, I’m feeling a bit flat. We got into it a little too late. We got it back towards the end, and were a little bit unlucky with the tapes exclusion for Scotty (Nicholls).

“We were chasing the match from Heat 1. We were on the back foot straight away. I thought we would get a little bit more out of the tactical substitution; I was really hoping for a 5-1 there. I know it sounds petty, but every single point in a match like this is so important.

“There were a lot of positives, however. K.K. rode really well again tonight, and we got stuck in. It was not for want of trying. We clawed it back from 8 points down, which shows the hearts of the riders. We faced a very tough Belle Vue; they were very consistent throughout their team and they’re obviously on a bit of a run at the moment. Look what they did a couple of days ago to Wolverhampton (winning at Monmore Green in the Knock-Out Cup).

“I’m disappointed, obviously, because the name of the game is to win all your home matches, but we’ve put on a really good match again tonight, against very tough opposition. Belle Vue deserved their win at the end, despite that last bit of luck, but I am sure it’s going to happen for us again. You know, it’s still relatively early in the season; it’s not a case of alarm bells. We’ve got to look at a couple of things, but that will come in time.

“It wasn’t meant to be tonight. The boys are all upset because they all want to win. What happened to Scotty in that last race was very unusual - he must have run over a couple of black cats today – but like I say, we’ve got to say positive because otherwise we are not going to be in the right frame of mind for the Swindon match. My approach is: turn it around, win that match and then we are getting back on track. I’ve got to concentrate on making sure the boys have their heads right, forget about this one and we just go forwards.

“The season is not over; far from it. Don’t forget that there are a lot of things that we can change. We just have to sort it out next time around.”

“BP Mitchell” Rockets scorers:
Krzysztof Kasprzak 15 (6 rides), Chris Harris 7+1 (4), Scott Nicholls 7 (5), Aaron Summers 5+1 (4), Stuart Robson 5+1 (4), Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 4+1 (4), Max Clegg 1 (3).

Belle Vue scorers:
Craig Cook 11 (5 rides), Jason Garrity 9+3 (5 rides), Rohan Tungate 8 (4), Max Fricke 8 (4), Damian Drozdz 6+1 (5), Dan Bewley 3 (4), Jye Etheridge 1+1 (3).

Match Points: Rye House 0 Belle Vue 3