Sunday, May 19, 2024
ChargersOxford Speedway

REACTION: “We’ve come away with a good win over the reigning champions.”

WSRA Oxford Charges, powered by SD Timmo Car Sales, got their season off to a tremendous start, with a 50-39 victory over reigning National League champions Leicester Lion Cubs at Oxford Stadium last night (Wednesday).

Heavy rain at around 6.45pm put the meeting in some doubt, but the Sandy Lane track staff did a sterling job in getting the circuit back into a raceable state, including the unique use of a leaf blower from sponsors Four Seasons Landscaping and Garden Maintenance to help dry the track!

Conditions were testing early on, but the young riders from both sides both put in a great effort, and no riders were hurt during the evening.

All three Chargers who also ride for Monarch Oxford Cheetahs showed the benefit of having ridden at Cowley every week this season. 18-year-old Luke Killeen top scored for Chargers with 13+1 from six rides, while Jordan Jenkins (12) and Henry Atkins (8) also scored heavily.

There was also a fine debut for Chargers for Ryan Kinsley (10+1) – a recent signing for the injured Nathan Stoneman – riding in his first competitive meeting for almost a full year out after a shoulder injury. Kinsley dropped just one point all night. All seven Chargers contributed to a team effort, to get a busy week off to a great start, before they visit Belle Vue on Friday and Mildenhall on Sunday.

Leicester’s Ashton Boughen, who made a couple of guest appearance for Chargers towards the end of last season – ironically against Lion Cubs – was first away in Heat 1, but Jenkins flew underneath him, and Boughen later got into difficulties with the track and dropped from second to fourth, before pulling out of the race, as Chargers started their evening with a 4-2.

The next three races were shared, before Lion Cubs pulled level with a 4-2 in Heat 5.

Second-placed Jenkins made a bold dive up the inside of Joe Thompson on the third bend of the final lap of Heat 6. But JJ slid off, and Lion Cubs took the lead with a 5-1.

Heat 7 had to be started three times, but Chargers eventually took a 5-1 to level the scores. The first attempt saw Tom Spencer lucky to be given another attempt after falling on his own on the first bend, with Oxford on a 5-1. In the re-run, it was very tight on the first bend, and Killeen fell after contact with Max Perry. Perry was handed a harsh exclusion, balancing up the two decisions, while Kinsley and Killeen made no mistakes in the second re-run.

Lion Cubs retook the lead with a 4-2 in Heat 8, with the impressive Boughen winning his second successive race.

But Heat 9 was pivotal. Firstly, Vinnie Foord fell and was excluded after an optimistic passing move on Jody Scott on the fourth turn. Joe Thompson led the re-run, but Atkins produced a fine passing move at the start of the second lap. Thompson fell shortly afterwards, leaving Atkins and Scott to take a 5-0 as Chargers moved in front at 28-25.

Jenkins and Jacob Clouting took a 4-2 from Heat 10, with Clouting riding a sensible race to keep Foord behind him, to leave Chargers five points ahead heading into a very brief interval.

After a shared Heat 11, Killeen produced a great outside move to fly around Perry on the fourth turn to take the lead in Heat 12. Atkins then started to press Perry and was close to coming inside him on the final bend, as Chargers pulled further ahead with a 4-2.

Chargers secured victory in Heat 13. Jenkins won a fierce battle with Dan Thompson on the opening bends which created an opening for Kinsley. Kinsley then found himself from severe pressure on either side by the Thompson twins, but he fended them off to join Jenkins for a match-winning 5-1.

Killeen won his third race of the evening in Heat 14 and was deservingly given a place in Heat 15 alongside skipper Jenkins. Jenkins fended off Dan Thompson – for Jenkins’ fourth race win of the night with only the fall in Heat 6 blotting his copybook – while Thompson unusually went through a meeting for Lion Cubs without winning a race. Behind them, Killeen almost took advantage of a mistake by Boughen, but the Lion Cub held on for third place.

Luke Killeen, who was presented with the Rider Of The Night award, said: “I felt I put in my best performance so far, while the whole team rode well. We’ve come away with a good win over the reigning champions.

“It was tight at some points. Pete (Schroeck, team manager) got us in a team huddle and told us to avoid last places and keep on doing what we were doing and we secured it.

“After the rain, it was pretty tricky early on. You know it’s tricky when you see a rider like Jordan Jenkins come off. He turned in to use the inside and spun out.

“I had Leon Flint with me tonight, giving me advice in my ear. He was giving me tips all night, and it was no surprise everything he told me paid off, because he’s a classy rider. When the track is like this, it teaches you throttle control.

“I’m really getting to grips with the Oxford track and I feel I’m riding it better every week. It is nice to be here every week with both sides and it’s paying off. I feel my starts are improving. I still missed a few tonight, but I made more than usual and it’s all going in the right direction.

“We’ll go to Belle Vue on Friday with a bit of confidence. Belle Vue do have a reputation of winning at home by a mile, but we’ve had a very nice booster tonight, and having already won one tough meeting, we’ll take a positive attitude into Friday.”

WSRA Oxford Chargers, powered by SD Timmo Car Sales 50: Jordan Jenkins 12, Jacob Clouting 3, Henry Atkins 8, Jody Scott 3+2, Ryan Kinsley 10+1, Luke Killeen 13+1, Jacob Fellows 1+1.

Leicester Lion Cubs 39: Dan Thompson 8, Ashton Boughen 8+2, Max Perry 7, Tom Spencer 2+1, Joe Thompson 6, Vinnie Foord 4+1, Max James 4+1.

PHOTO: Luke Killeen leading Heat 14 last night (pic: STEVE EDMUNDS)