UPDATE: Sunday, 9.15am. News from Lewi Kerr: “Rough night but good news nothing broken. Few days rest then be back on track.“
Our story from last night:
A 40-point victory . . .league points on the board . . . and big scores all round would normally equal a great night for any speedway team.
But, for the Fineprint Eagles, their first Championship win of the season (65-25) tonight (May 25) was marred when Lewi Kerr was taken from the track by ambulance and transferred to hospital.
It follows the serious crash suffered last week by the Eagles’ teenage star, Tom Brennan, who remains in hospital.
Eastbourne has suffered five defeats on the bounce in league action but it didn’t show as they ripped into the team from the Borders from the off.
Two 5-1 victories in the first two races set the tone for the evening.
Then came Kerr’s crash.
He was locked with Berwick’s Kevin Doolan on the run to the first corner. They didn’t turn and both went at speed to the scene of the crash where they disappeared under the air fence.
Doolan was withdrawn from the meeting with concussion with Kerr suffering neck and shoulder injuries.
After a 50-minute delay, the action resumed and the Eastbourne team went on to have its best night so far this year.
Strangely, with such a big win, not one of the home stars went through the meeting undefeated.
Ben Morley, Georgie Wood and Alfie Bowtell scored a hatful of points between them, while Kyle Newman made a solid debut in the engine room of the team.
Wood, in particular, was back to his best after two 15-point scores this week for his National League team, the Isle of Wight.
Wood (main photograph) had all the power he needed and has rediscovered his gating skills.
He was close to a maximum but lost out when Berwick’s Nicolaj Busk Jacobsen pressured him into an error which saw his drop from first to third.
Eagles joint team manager Will Pottinger, said it was great to see the whole team clicking together.
“We managed to cover Lewi’s rides quite well. He has had enough injuries, let’s hope he has got away with it.
“The track was a lot better. The track staff have probably taken a lot of stick in the last few weeks but they got it right tonight, and they deserve credit for that.
“The riders could ride quite easily turn the bike. That’s what they asked for and they got what they wanted.
“We have also sorted a few bike problems out.
“Ben and Georgie have been racing the last couple of days and Georgie has been on fire for the Isle of Wight and has transferred that to the Eagles, so everyone is happy with that.
“We have fallen a bit short the last couple of home matches by one point. There are tight margins in speedway so it is nice to go home with a smile on my face tonight.”
EASTBOURNE 65: Edward Kennett 13+1, Richard Lawson 13+1, Georgie Wood 12+2, Kyle Newman 10+1, Ben Morley 9+4, Alfie Bowtell 8+4, Lewis Kerr 0.
BERWICK 25: Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 11, Aaron Summers 6, Dany Gappmaier 4, Jye Etheridge 2+1, Leon Flint 2+1, Jordan Jenkins 0, Kevin Doolan 0.
A collection for Tom Brennan raised more than £1,700.
Many fans signed Get Well cards for Tom as they entered the stadium while others brought cards which will be sent on.
Here’s the Kevin Ling verdict on last night’s action
Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles finally hit the winning groove on the Championship stage and in devastating style at Arlington stadium on Saturday evening (May 25).
Following an unfortunate sequence of five straight league defeats, the Sussex side put all that all behind them as they demolished the challenge of the Berwick Bandits, romping to an emphatic 40-point margin of victory.
The 65-25 result certainly cheered the Eastbourne fans.
However the occasion could so easily have proved another Bitter Sweet Symphony for the club as the meeting was again marred by a high-speed crash.
Both Lewi Kerr for the Eagles and Berwick Captain Kevin Doolan were withdrawn from the contest after a coming together in heat three.
Both disappeared beneath the first turn safety air fence.
Doolan had been on the inside and appeared to pick-up drive, rearing and collecting Kerr en route to the barrier.
Anxious moments followed as both riders were tended to by the medical staff and the sight of the track ambulance attending the scene further raised concerns.
A delay of some 50 minutes ensued while the South East Coast Ambulance ambulance was summoned and unease remained prevalent for each ride.
The announcement soon followed that both were withdrawn, the Eagle suffering neck and shoulder injuries, the Berwick rider with concussion.
Better news would follow the next morning as regards Kerr, however, reports that nothing was broken and just rest required would certainly have been the tonic Eastbourne fans needed.
The thoughts of all within the club, of course, remaining with Doolan for a speedy recovery.
The incident might well have left a cloud hanging over the contest, however, the rampant Eagles riders did all in their power to disperse any such negativity with strong performances coming all the way down the line.
In spite of the margin of victory, surprisingly no Eagle remained unbeaten by an opponent but impressively all were paid for double figures.
Skipper Edward Kennett and Richard Lawson led the charge with 13-points plus one bonus apiece and Kyle Newman turned in a fine display on his debut with three race wins included in his paid 11-point return.
Ben Morley was well among the points, an impressive paid 13-point tally saw him share in no fewer than three of the Eagles ten maximum 5-1s over the course of the night.
As positive as all the above undoubtedly was, likely as not it was the respective performance by each of the Eastbourne reserves that the Sussex patrons would have found most pleasing.
Both Georgie Wood and Alfie Bowtell had struggled at times in the preceding weeks but each produced powerhouse displays against the Bandits, Wood in particular back to his Arlington best, a determined demonstration to be sure and one that realised a lofty 12-points (paid 14). I
Indeed had it not been for a momentary lapse on the final lap in heat four, one that saw him slip from first place to third, he could well have been the Eagle who went through the card.
That could well have been a possibility too for Bowtell. The Eagles youngster looked so more assured down in the lower order of the side and that paid dividends as he followed his partner to the chequered flag in four of his five outings.
Only one last place blighted that inspiring performance, that coming as he fell victim to a robust first turn in heat eleven which left him with just too much ground to make up.
So gratifying reading all the way down the order for the Eagles fans, less so for the Berwick followers for whom Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen was the only Bandit to seemingly get to grips with the circuit.
Busk Jakobsen won each of his opening two rides, however he would slip from prominence as the meeting progressed and the Eagles performance increased in intensity.
Elsewhere Aaron Summers proved the visitors only other man first to the chequered flag in heat five and it would quickly prove to be a night best forgotten by the Borders’ club.
Such as their results to date had suggested, the Eagles contingent had expected the Bandits to pose stern resistance, especially in light of the hosts having suffered successive 44-45 reverses in their previous two Arlington fixtures.
From the moment Kennett and Morley combined to go away from Summers in the opening race, however, (winning time 58.5) that opposition seldom looked likely to present itself.
The initial running was frustrated as Jye Etheridge rode into the starting tapes and was replaced by reserve Leon Flint.
At the second time of asking it was all Eastbourne as they started their evening in the perfect style.
The four point lead immediately doubled to eight (8-4) as Wood and Bowtell powered away for maximum points of their own (winning time 58.9), their task having been made marginally easier by further misfortune blighting the visitors, Jordan Jenkins having exceeded the two-minutes time allowance and having to go from 15 metres back.
With the positive mood building on the terraces, it threatened to come crashing back down, quite literally, as Doolan and Kerr collided at the start of race three.
Following a delay of close on an hour and with the air temperature having cooled somewhat that might also have had a tempering effect on the meeting as a whole.
The Eagles didn’t allow that to happen however, with Injury Rider Replacement (IRR) immediately implanted for both riders, Bowtell was brought in to partner Newman while Jenkins was introduced as Doolan’s replacement.
As the tapes rose again it was the Eastbourne duo that left the start as one, forging an early lead over Dani Gappmaier and Jenkins.
That was how it stayed, Newman winning his debut ride for his new club and suddenly the hosts were 12-points (15-3) to the good (winning time 60.3).
Heat four and once again it was Wood who left the start as if jet propelled.
The Eagles reserve looked to have the measure of Busk Jakobsen who in turn was managing the threat posed by Lawson. That momentary lapse and slight lock up on the first / second bend of the final lap was all the Bandit, and indeed Lawson needed and they duly blazed through on Wood’s inside.
Busk Jakobsen continued to take the win (winning time 59.2) that interrupted the Eastbourne flow and with the following two races also being shared it appeared for a time that the visitors might finally have found their feet.
Summers proved an impressive winner of heat five (winning time 58.7) having ridden around the outside of the fast starting Morley down the first lap back straight.
With the scores now standing at 21-9, Busk Jakobsen made it two wins out of two for him personally (winning time 59.0) as he headed home Kennett and Morley for a third consecutive share of the spoils.
In spite of the margin that existed between the two teams at that time, had both Bandits continued in a similar vein it wasn’t inconceivable that the visitors might soon start reeling in their hosts.
That wasn’t about to happen however and the Eastbourne onslaught re-commenced in earnest as Lawson and Bowtell stormed away from Busk Jakobsen, hastily introduced as a tactical substitute to cover Doolan’s ride.
The home pair registered Eagles fourth 5-1 (winning time 58.5), much to the delight of the Sussex fans and with the score line reading 29-13, the hosts appeared locked and well on course for victory.
Wood and Morley would then make it five maximum wins of the eight heats so far contested however this race wasn’t set to go the distance, the result being awarded by referee Christina Turnbull after Jenkins suffered a fall at the tail end of lap two causing the stoppage.
Newman would also prove a faller in heat nine, having just forced his way into second place behind partner Wood and ahead of Busk Jakobsen and Flint.
He swiftly rose and continued however, allowing his partner to continue for the victory (winning time 58.4) that saw him gain revenge over the chasing Bandit.
Heat ten would then witness a second 5-1 for the Kennett / Morley duo (winning time 58.0) and Eastbourne’s sixth of the meeting so far.
This would come at the expense of the Gappmaier / Flint combo and with the scores now standing at 42-18 barring something unforeseen and totally unprecedented the hosts were now assured of the match points.
Lawson was set to power to the win in the eleventh (winning time 58.7) but Bowtell’s impressive show was interrupted as he lost the battle of the shoulders with Etheridge heading into the first turn.
This saw Summers and Etheridge go clear of the chasing Eagles reserve but neither would make any ground on the super speedy Lawson.
With Newman and Wood combining for a further 5-1 in race twelve (winning time 60.1), the hosts finally hit the half century mark (50-22).
This could indeed have proved a further awarded result as Jenkins and Gappmaier suffered a coming together on the first bend of lap two, both riders falling but although the Eastbourne pair were already away and gone, with Jenkins ruled out, a further four laps were required to achieve a similar outcome.
There was no let up on the visitors in the next either as top scorers Kennett and Lawson lined up in opposition to Busk Jakobsen and Summers.
The contrasting moods allied to fortunes were apparent for all to see as the home heat leaders quickly raced clear of their opponents.
Though the Dane kept his sights on Kennett for the first couple of laps there remained little doubt that the Sussex battlers would chalk up their eighth 5-1 of proceedings so far (winning time 59.2), one that would further stretch the margin to a mammoth 32-points, 55-23.
Heat fourteen and the Bandits were well and truly on the ropes. Newman completed a wholly creditable debut performance and he was backed all the way by the impressive Bowtell.
Another maximum victory, this one at the expense of Gappmaier and Flint (winning time 60.4) seeing the Eagles hit 60-points for the second time in 2019, the scores now moving to 60-24 with just the final heat (no doubt thankfully in the minds of the visitors) yet to be run.
One last 5-1, Eagles tenth, and again courtesy of lead duo Kennett and Lawson and the demolition was effectively complete (winning time 58.6). This time it was Busk Jakobsen and Gappmaier who would feel the force of the Eastbourne offensive and the closing maximum race win and one that propelled them to their biggest win of the season so far, the 65-25 victory being immediately dedicated to their injured comrade Tom Brennan.
Eagles: Edward Kennett 13+1(5), Richard Lawson 13+1(5), Georgie Wood 12+2(5), Kyle Newman 10+1(5), Ben Morley 9+4(5), Alfie Bowtell 8+4(5), Injury Rider Replacement for Lewis Kerr (Withdrawn). – 65
Bandits: Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 11(6), Aaron Summers 6(4), Danny Gappmaier 4(6), Jye Etheridge 2+1(3), Leon Flint 2+1(6), Jordan Jenkins (Guest for Coty Garcia) 0(5), Injury Rider Replacement for Kevin Doolan (Withdrawn). – 25
Images: Mike Hinves and Tiffani Graveling Photography