The Thurrock Hammers took part in an interclub challenge against fellow nomadic club the Crayford Kestrels in a behind closed doors meeting at Lydd Speedway, eventually losing 69-51 in an enjoyable 20 heat contest.
The Hammers, sponsored for the meeting by Devines Accountants, gave competitive debuts to their Eastbourne Seagull squad of Nick Laurence, Eli Meadows, James Laker, Josh Warren, James Jessop and Cesca Wright and drafted in Rhys Laker and Jack Kingston to complete an eight-rider team.
In a competitive meeting, battled out on the tight Kent track in perfect autumnal conditions, it was Kingston along with Hammers skipper Nick Laurence who shone brightest for the Hammers.
Former Hammers asset Kingston was only beaten by the opposition once, scoring 14, whilst Laurence, battled the top end of the Kestrels team to score 10.
Eli Meadows and Josh Warren both took their first race to adapt to the track but showed growing confidence thereafter, with both delivering heat victories to score 7 (paid 8), and 6 points respectively.
James Laker often the victim of tight first bends against the Kestrels heat leaders scored 2, whilst Rhys Laker showed his knowledge for the track with a victory and a second place.
The Hammers reserves James Jessop and Cesca Wright both took time to get to grips with the tight confines of the Lydd track, but delivered at the bottom end with 5 and two (paid 3) points, again gaining confidence as the meeting progressed.
For the Kestrels, veteran Rob Hollingworth showed his gating skills and track knowledge with 14 points, with the former Boston Barracuda beaten only by the quick starting Kingston in his first race.
Reserve Chris Laidlaw proved a trump card at reserve with 12, backed by former Hammers Jamie Couzins with 10 (paid 11), Keith Cornell 10, and skipper Chris Watts with 9.
Both teams delivered an entertaining meeting and despite being on the wrong end of the score line, the meeting provided quality track time and the opportunity for the riders to start developing a team bond, specifically among the Seagulls squad, which was one key aim for the Hammers.
After the meeting Team Manager Mark Sexton commented:
“At the end of a really traumatic year, the meeting was the perfect mixture of high-octane competition on track and friendship & enjoyment off it.
The race format Crayford employ means that races included riders of a similar standard and this ensured close racing throughout.
Nick led superbly from the front, Jack made a brilliant return in Hammers colours after nearly 5 years away from team racing and there were positives throughout the whole team with both Eli and Josh securing their first ever heat wins in a team event.
All in all, a superb day out.”
The Hammers would like to send our thanks to Mark Shipman and all at the Crayford Kestrels for hosting the meeting, and to our meeting sponsor Devines Accountants for their on-going support for our campaign to return speedway to Thurrock.
The meeting was filmed by T2TV and will be available via their website here.
Crayford Kestrels: 69
Jamie Couzins: 10+1, Josh Couzins: 3+1, Rob Hollingworth: 14, Will Little: 6+4: Chris Watts: 9, Keith Cornell: 10, Chris Laidlaw: 12, Robbie Higgins: 5
Thurrock Hammers: 51
Nick Laurence: 10, Eli Meadows: 7+1, Jack Kingston: 14, Rhys Laker: 5, James Laker: 2, Josh Warren: 6, James Jessop: 5, Cesca Wright: 2+1