Report courtesy of www.ryehouserockets.co
Photos copyright Ian Bush Photography,
Heat details courtesy of Speedway Updates
It is said that the sun always shines on the righteous, and so it proved at Rye House on Sunday afternoon. Despite heavy overnight rain and the threat of further forecast showers during the day, the wet stuff stayed away, enabling Luke Bowen to celebrate a thoroughly deserved Testimonial meeting on a hot and dry summer’s afternoon.
No less than 28 conventional heats were shoehorned into Luke’s 10 Year-Take-Off, with a rather unconventional race left to sign off the show.
Edinburgh duo Sam Masters and Justin Sedgmen won the central Best Pairs event, with Masters thereby collecting his second Pairs title of the weekend after his earlier success in the Premier League Pairs on Friday night. Scored on a 4-3-2-0 basis, the duo secured the winner-takes-all final – dubbed The Final Dogfight – 7-2 over former Rocket Anders Mellgren and Leigh Lanham, with Masters working his way through the field to join Sedgmen at the front just before Mellgren took the third lap tumble that caused the race to be awarded.
A clearly delighted Masters admitted afterwards, “It was fantastic to win two Pairs titles this weekend, and with two great partners. I couldn’t ask for more. It was great to win today, but even more importantly to be able to be a part of Luke’s big day.”
Partner Sedgmen shared that sentiment. “I’ve really enjoyed today, and it was great to see a good turn-out for a rider who really deserves it.”
The even balancing of the pairings made for a tight contest, with six of the duos in contention for the final shoot-out throughout. Richard Lawson was the solo star of the show, suffering his only defeat to Edward Kennett in Heat 3, but with partner Ben Morley able to add only 2 points the “Hammers” duo ultimately fell short of the qualification mark. So too did the Stuart Robson/Jason Bunyan pairing – just one point adrift of the cut – plus Olly Allen/Stefan Nielsen and Edward Kennett/Taylor Poole.
The Testimonial man himself racked up 15 points, but he and partner Steve Boxall eventually finished bottom of the stack. They were not helped when the Boxmeister suffered a nasty gash to his right hand in a Heat 14 crash when both had daringly nominated themselves for double points by wearing black and white helmet colours – referee Dave Robinson sportingly allowing the double Tactical Ride ploy – and reserves Marc Owen and Benji Compton had to each fill in for one of Boxall’s outings.
Alan Mogridge and Stefan Ekberg shared race victories in the two Blast from the past heats - dubbed “Luke’s Flying Circus” – although all four riders, with Ian Barney and Troy Pratt also participants, were true heroes in rolling back the years for some competitive action.
There were also four U-16 races, which were shared between 250cc and 125cc levels.
The Testimonial star himself was left to round out the show as he took on – and beat – rally car driver Alex Parpottas in a unique battle of two wheels versus four.
The Bowen 747 admitted after the meeting that “I didn’t really get any sleep last night worrying about the weather, so I’m over the moon that we managed to get everything on in the end. I hope we provided great value for money with all the races and attractions, and that everyone enjoyed the meeting.”
In addition to thanking all the competitors, sponsors, his Testimonial committee and the Rye House club for making the meeting possible, he finished by saying “I also want to thank my family and fiancé for tolerating me these last few months – and especially these last few weeks - in the build-up to today. There has been a lot of planning involved, and a lot of stress too, but I promise I will get back to being the normal “me” again now.
“And from now on I will leave the promoting to the promoters!”
The In-Flight Entertainment (first two pairs to the Final):
Sam Masters 15/Justin Sedgmen 16 = 31
Anders Mellgren 15/Leigh Lanham 16 = 31
Stuart Robson 19/Jason Bunyan 11 = 30
Olly Allen 19/Stefan Nielsen 9 = 28
Edward Kennett 22/Taylor Poole 4 = 26
Richard Lawson 23/Ben Morley 2 = 25
Luke Bowen 15/Steve Boxall 7 = 22
Reserves Benji Compton and Marc Owen each took one ride as replacements for Steve Boxall, but failed to score.
The Final Dogfight:
Justin Sedgmen, Sam Masters, Leigh Lanham, Anders Mellgren (fexc) (7-2) (no time)
Luke’s Flying Circus:
Heat 1: Alan Mogridge, Stefan Ekberg, Ian Barney, Troy Pratt (fell) (61.9)
Heat 2: Stefan Ekberg, Alan Mogridge, Ian Barney, Troy Pratt (61.4)
As agreed at the pre-meeting briefing by all the riders, a fines system was put in place for racing infringements. These fines will duly be collected – subject to appeal – by referee Dave Robinson at some future point for (possible) forwarding to Luke Bowen. In line with the tone of the event, they include:
Richard Lawson (1 pint) - for trying to anticipate the start in Heat 4; this was later reduced to ½ pint for Lawson’s abject failure to achieve this aim.
Ian Barney and Alan Mogridge (1 pint each): Barney for wearing a white helmet that was “never white”; Mogridge for “appearing to fall asleep on the fourth bend”
Jason Bunyan (½ pint): “for digging a big hole on gate 3 and then missing the start” in Heat 5
Sam Masters (1 shot): “for beating Luke Bowen” in Heat 6
Edward Kennett (2 pints): 1 pint for crashing into the air fence after the conclusion of Heat 11, with a further pint for “failing to remove his shoes before going on the bouncy castle”
Stuart Robson (1 pint): “for moving, and still not making the start until lap two in Heat 12”
Steve Boxall (1 pint): “for crashing without due care and attention” in Heat 14
U-16 rider Anders Rowe (2 packets of Chewits): “for being too short”