Wednesday August 08, 2018
TEENAGE sensation Drew Kemp and James Shanes pulled off a dramatic last race 5-1 to salvage Birmingham a 45-45 draw with Kent at Perry Barr.

It was a stunning finale to a keenly fought contest in the second city where no more than four points ever separated the two sides.

15-year-old Kemp, standing in for Leon Flint, raced to a magnificent 15-point maximum, as he and all-action Shanes overcame Kings guest Ellis Perks in a high-speed battle.

Brummies found themselves facing an early four-point deficit with skipper Tom Bacon missing out to Perks in Heat 1 after suffering bike trouble on parade.

And then the gremlins beset Dan Greenwood in Heat 3 as he lost ground on the last lap when set for a 5-1 with Kemp, although he did hang on for third place ahead of Taylor Hampshire.

Shanes superbly passed Jack Thomas after three laps of chasing in Heat 4, and Kemp underlined his maturity by defeating Perks to head up a match-levelling 4-2 in the next.

A run of shared races followed before the Brummies finally hit the front as Kemp took his third win in a 4-2 in Heat 9.

But a shock reverse in the next left them trailing 29-31 with Bacon squeezed out by Thomas on turn two, which enabled Anders Rowe to follow his team-mate through for 5-1.

Parity was restored when Shanes beat Perks in Heat 11 with youngster Sheldon Davies taking a terrific third place over Hampshire – but the home side were unable to regain the advantage.
The Kings were pleased to share the next two races, particularly Heat 13 when Perks held off Shanes and Bacon in the battle of the big guns – and they then pulled off a huge result in the next race.
A Heat 14 win for Rowe was not unexpected, but second place for reserve Alex Spooner certainly was, with Greenwood unable to make any serious challenge in a 5-1 concession.

But the Brummies hit back in the last race with Kemp leading from the start and Shanes re-passing Perks for second place to draw the match after a titanic three-way battle.

While Edwards Plumbing Brummies boss Laurence Rogers was disappointed his side couldn’t return to winning ways, he was relieved they got something out of the fixture.

“A point was the least we deserved I felt everything considered,” Rogers said.

“We discussed heat 15 in a bit of depth and James and Drew came up with a plan beforehand for the opening bends to bamboozle their pairing a little bit - and it worked!

“The Kent pairing couldn’t keep up with the boys in the end and it caused one of their representatives to have a good old moan and groan about a few different things after the race but that was just sour grapes.

“We could and maybe should have had more than a point - but we’ll take it on this occasion.

“Tom had issues with his bikes from parade, and that’s certainly not through a lack of preparation, and Dan’s throttle came apart in heat three relegating him to third.

“But I was pleased the reserves were able to make important contributions too - Josh rode a good line in Heat Two and Sheldon rode superbly to beat Taylor in Heat 11.

“Obviously Drew was the stand-out rider of the night and we can’t thank him enough for a stunning guest appearance, but I was glad everyone was able to contribute to this league point.”

BIRMINGHAM 45: Drew Kemp 15, James Shanes 13+1, Tom Bacon 7+1, Dan Greenwood 7, Josh Embleton 2, Sheldon Davies 1, Tom Spencer (no.8) 0, Callum Walker R/R.

KENT 45: Anders Rowe 11+1, Ellis Perks 11, Jack Thomas 9, Alex Spooner 8+4, Jamie Couzins 3+2, Taylor Hampshire 3, Nathan Stoneman R/R.

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