The National Karate Swindon Robins were the surprise winners of the Solo teams match at Gillman Speedway on Saturday (30 June).
On paper the opposing CBS Bins Leszno Bulls team looked to be the stronger team, and three successive 4-2 results in heats 2, 3 and 4 seemed to support that theory.
One of the highlights of the opening four heats was a win by three-time New Zealand Under 21 Champion Jake Turner, in his first appearance at Gillman, in heat three, but a terrible start by Turner in his next ride, heat 5, and a retirement by his team-mate Dakota Ballantyne, allowed the Robins pair of Justin Sedgmen and Kane Lawrence to score a 5-1 and pull the scores back to 16-14 in the Bulls’ favour.
The Bulls quickly regained that lost ground with a 5-1 of their own, courtesy of Ryan Douglas and Fraser Bowes in the next heat, but the big turning point of the match came in heat nine when Turner and Ballantyne again struck trouble but this time in the same race the Robins were using a double-points tactical ride which saw them win the heat 7-2 to narrow the score to just a 1 point difference, 29-28.
Ballantyne’s bike broke down on the back straight prior to the race starting, and then Turner’s engine blew as he left the tapes, and the Bulls were only able to hang onto the lead by a second place by reserve Seth Hickey, replacing Ballantyne, ahead of Dayle Wood but behind runaway winner Declan Kennedy.
Two heats later, in heat 11, the Robins took the lead for the first time in the match with Sedgmen and Lawrence riding side-by-side to block Robert Medson in a blanket finish.
A shared heat in heat 12 saw the Robins keep their 3 point lead, and the result was virtually put beyond doubt in the next race with Sedgmen and Kennedy taking a 5-1 over the previously unbeaten Ryan Douglas.
Ballantyne produced his best ride of the day to win heat 14, and Douglas returned to the winner’s circle with a win in the final heat but it was only enough to allow them to reduce the final margin to 5 points.
Douglas was the stand-out rider for the Bulls with 13 points from his five rides. Five of his six team-mates, Bowes, Turner, Ballantyne, Medson and Hickey, all scored a race win but the opposition Robins riders’ more consistently got the better of them.
Declan Kennedy, 12 plus 2 (including his double-point win), Matt Pickering (12) and Justin Sedgmen (10+1) all scored double-figures and they received good support from Kane Lawrence (8+2) and a few handy points from Jack Morrison (4+1).
There was some consolation the next day for Gillman riders Robert Medson, Dakota Ballantyne and Seth Hickey when they teamed with New South Wales rider Matt Pickering to win a four team tournament in Mildura.
The next 500cc Solo Teams meetings will be at Gillman on Saturday, 4 August and Mildura on Sunday, 5 August.
The full race results are on the Gillman Speedway website under the Results tab.
Top photo: The winning National Karate Swindon Robins team. Left to right, back row: Lyndon Schlein, Dayle Wood, Declan Kennedy, Jack Morrison, Kane Lawrence, George Taylor; front row: Cordell Rogerson, Matt Pickering, Justin Sedgmen. Photo by Judy Mackay.