Friday June 30, 2017
The BMR Rockets have moved to strengthen their challenge for place in this season’s SGB Premiership Play-Offs by making two changes to their line-up.

The Rockets have swooped for former World Cup Lion Ben Barker and Australian Championship runner-up Justin Sedgmen, with the duo replacing Edward Kennett and Ellis Perks in their re-declared makeup. Subject to BSPA approval of the move, the pair will jointly make their Rye House debuts in the next away match at defending league champions Wolverhampton on Monday, July 10th, with their home debuts following five nights later in the return encounter against the Wolves.

Barker’s arrival marks the successful completion of a personal mission by the Truro-born star to return to the top flight. The 29 year old had only recently put himself very firmly in the shop window by placing fourth in the British Final at the National Speedway Stadium, a performance quickly followed by a solid display as a guest for the Rockets in their Premiership fixture at the same venue. Away from his new Hertfordshire career, he has earned a Top 20 spot in the weekly national SGB Championship averages with Redcar.

Sedgmen, meanwhile, had recently lost his Premiership place at Belle Vue despite a healthy 6.56 all-inclusive record that included two race wins at Rye House earlier this month and a double figure sign-off in the Aces’ victory at King’s Lynn just a week later. In addition to January’s Silver finish – just 3 points adrift of winner Sam Masters - in the Australian national series, the 25 year old is a former Victoria State Champion and has lifted two Premier League (now SGB Championship) titles with Edinburgh. He retains a Championship interest in 2017 with Ipswich.

The switch also means that Stuart Robson will drop to the No.6 position, with the Rockets viewing him as a major trump card at reserve.

The arrival of Barker and Sedgmen has unfortunately also signalled the departure of Kennett and Perks. For Kennett, it marks the end of a third spell with the Hertfordshire club. He played an important role in the Rockets’ 2005 Premier League winning team – and had more recently proven no less pivotal in holding Rye together at No.1 during more difficult seasons. It is no secret, however, that despite his continued impressive record at Hoddesdon this campaign – one that included two maximums – his away form had fallen off alarmingly, to the point where he was averaging less than four points a match on the road.

Perks, in contrast, had enjoyed a real breakthrough run in the Black, Chrome and Orange this term, posting a 5 point all-inclusive average both home and away, and he can consider himself an unfortunate victim of “the numbers game” to facilitate the accommodation of both Barker and Sedgmen.

Rye House Co-Promoter Steve Jenson explained the decisions. “We felt that we had to do something if we are going to make the Play-Offs. We have been close to getting match points at so many away tracks, but always come up short, and if we stayed as we were there was nothing to indicate that that situation would change.

“We spoke to several Grand Prix riders, but they were unable to commit themselves until mid-August, which clearly was not an option. We went instead for a more balanced look, and also one that will bring in guys who will cement the team spirit of the club.

“There’s no doubt that Edward has been “Mr Rye House” these last few years, but it just wasn’t working for him away from home this season. Hopefully, he will go somewhere else that will help to turn it around.

“Ellis has been absolutely brilliant, and it is a real shame to lose him. He is simply a victim of his own success. It has come down purely to his average, and we have told him that.”

Rye House Team Manager Peter Schroeck echoes those sentiments. “Eddie has been a very, VERY good stalwart for the club, but he has really struggled to score points away from home, and unfortunately that has cost us.

“I am gutted for Ellis; he has not put a foot wrong and it is purely down to the numbers. I am sure that he will get snapped up pretty quickly by someone else.

“Ultimately, though, we have to do what is right for the club as a whole, and this season is all about reaching the Play-Offs. We have done a lot of soul searching these last few weeks, and the feeling was that if we stayed as we were we would come up short.

“Ben and Justin will give us that bit more consistency - and a very important added push on the road. When Ben joined us (as a guest) at Belle Vue he really added to the atmosphere, and I am sure he will bring something big to the party. He has got plenty of experience, he’s already been in a league winning team (with Coventry), and he has worked really hard to get this opportunity (back in the Premiership).

“He’s also an out-and-out racer. He is so positive, and you know he’s going to give you 150%.

“We’re looking to put him at No.2 so that he partners Bomber (Chris Harris). They are really good friends, and Bomber is already buzzing about the pairing.

“Justin is just as enthusiastic. He was very disappointed to lose out at Belle Vue – again, it was the numbers game – and he deserves to be in the Premiership. He will be absolutely determined to prove a point now that he’s got his chance again.

“These are both guys that want to be at Rye House – they have been very interested in discussing any opportunity at the club in the past – and that will help to make a difference too.

“July is going to be a very important month for us, with home and away matches against both Wolverhampton and King’s Lynn, plus a trip to Swindon.

“I am really looking forward to the first one, a week next Monday.”