Saturday, June 15, 2024
ChargersOxford Speedway

REACTION: “Along with winning the league at the end of last season, that’s the most amazing feeling I’ve had riding speedway. To go out in the last-heat decider and win the race is amazing – I am buzzing.”

REIGNING CHAMPIONS Real Mini Company Oxford Chargers powered by SD Timmo Car Sales commenced their WSRA National League title defence with an exciting and dramatic 45-44 away victory over the Edinburgh Monarchs Academy at Armadale Stadium last night (Friday).

With 2023 leading lights Jordan Jenkins and Henry Atkins ineligible to ride in the National League, 19-year-old Luke Killeen and 17-year-old Jody Scott have grabbed their chance to take over as top guns for Chargers.

Chargers entered the final race (Heat 15) just one point ahead. Edinburgh’s Dayle Wood shot from the tapes, with Scott and Killeen tucked behind. Killeen fell on the second bend, and momentarily Monarchs Academy had the 4-2 they required to snatch the win. But Scott shot under Wood on the third bend and then pulled away for victory.

Prior to that, new skipper Killeen won his opening three races at Armadale, but then looped it at the tapes in Heat 13.

Scott was even more impressive, only dropping two points on his way to his best-ever National League score of 13 points. One of those two dropped points came in Heat 13, we he appeared to have repassed Max Perry to steal victory on the line, only for the verdict to be handed by Scottish referee Willie Dishington to Perry.

It was certainly wasn’t just about the top two. Jacob Clouting and Jason Garrad finished last season as the reserve pairing for Chargers. This season, there are the middle pairing – the engine room of the side. They collected a 5-1 over Perry in Heat 7 that moved Chargers eight points clear at 25-17 after seven races.

Garrad suffered an alarming fall in his third ride, but recovered to win a ding-dong battle with Edinburgh’s Sam McGurk in Heat 12, in an exciting race that saw the lead changed hands three times on the final lap. They were the only two finishers in a 3-2 to Chargers.

Reserves Ashton Vale and Senna Summers also both scored vital points, with 15-year-old Vale defeating one Edinburgh rider in each of his rides for a 7+1 tally.

Chargers were one man down, since Alex Spooner has still not fully recovered from his injuries from last season. With rider replacement blocked, Chargers gave a chance to 15-year-old unattached rider Lee Harrison, who took what proved a vital point in Heat 1, after Mason Watson ran into machinery problems. Harrison was even more impressive in Heat 8, when he led Watson until the final lap.

Chargers showed plenty of fight to secure the victory. They took the lead from Heat 1, but saw an eight-point lead disappear after Edinburgh levelled the scores at 30-30 after three successive heat advantages, resulting in five tense and sometimes unpredictable final races.

Top scorer Jody Scott said: “Along with winning the league at the end of last season, that’s the most amazing feeling I’ve had riding speedway. To go out in the last-heat decider and win the race is amazing – I am buzzing.

“I didn’t know Luke had come down on the second bend. I just knew if I could get into the lead and then keep it, then that would be enough. I was elbow-to-elbow with Dayle (Wood) and managed to get ahead and then I made sure I stayed on the right line.

“I thought I’d won Heat 13 as well, but any disappointment over that race disappeared when I won the last one.

“We’ve lost riders from last year’s team, but the rest of us have stepped up. We’ve got new riders in the team too. I’ve known Ashton Vale for years and we’re good mates, so it’s great to have him as a team-mate.

“I’ve been training hard in the gym and testing out things on the bikes and it all seems to be working. We know there’s no play-offs this season, but we know if you can on riding well and winning meetings that we can win the league again.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure we beat Edinburgh again at Oxford on Sunday afternoon. We really appreciated the support from the fans who made the long journey tonight, and I hope plenty of supporters will come along on Sunday.”

Edinburgh Monarchs Academy 44: Connor Coles 8, Mason Watson 4+2, Sam McGurk 4+1, Dayle Wood 13, Max Perry 9+1, Kyran Lyden 6, Mark Parker 0.

Real Mini Company Oxford Chargers powered by SD Timmo Car Sales 45: Luke Killeen 9, Lee Harrison 1, Jason Garrad 6+1, Jacob Clouting 8, Jody Scott 13, Senna Summers 1+1, Ashton Vale 7+1.

PHOTO: Oxford Chargers at sponsors Real Mini Company (pic: Steve Edmunds)