James Sarjeant in the Ben Fund 2020 Image Credit: Peter Hill

Sarj up for the Bonanza

NEWS Wednesday 23rd March 2022, 8:00am

by Mike Hunter

James Sarjeant, back with Monarchs for 2022, is eager to get back in the swing of things by doing some early meetings this season. He'll be making his third appearance in the Ben Fund Bonanza, which he is very happy to do as he has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the SRBF, as well as (by necessity) a beneficiary.

On 8th October last year James had a very serious-looking pileup in the opening race of Redcar's Play-off visit to Armadale, indeed it was the opening bend on which he got into close proximity with Sam Masters' back wheel, swerved at high speed across the bend and hit the fence head on, flying high and landing on the track.

Various reports of his injuries circulated but he is able to confirm exactly what they were. "It was a scary crash. I suffered a cracked pelvis, a chipped fibia, a pretty deep cut (on my bum really) that needed an operation, and keyhole surgery on my knee a month or so after. That allowed me to straighten my knee. I might have needed another operation which would have taken six months to recover from, but fortunately it wasn't needed.

"I went back to work just after New Year, and even then I felt I was pushing it. But it worked out well, I think that little bit more exercise as I got back to normality helped my leg a little bit.

"The knee is still a little tight but I've been doing a lot of training. I had a practise a couple of weeks ago which went very well, up at Scunthorpe. After a couple of laps I felt like I'd not been off really.

"I've just been arranging to ride in another couple of early meetings, the opening meeting up at Newcastle, and a Coventry meeting at Birmingham, along with the Ben Fund. I should have been in Lewi Kerr's Testimonial but there was a computer mix-up with my license and I had to unload the van!"

"Sarj" had already done his bit for the Ben Fund, riding in the 2017 Bonanza at Glasgow and then jumping in at very short notice to replace a very late call-off by Andreas Jensen (who had fallen foul of the Pandemic lockdown in his own country) for the 2020 event at Scunthorpe. At the kind of notice involved it's amazing that anyone was able to do it.

He said "I remember Scunthorpe was a pretty late call-up, but I was very pleased to do it. I get on pretty well with Paul, I played in a football match last year and actually scored a goal! So that was pretty good. I used to play a bit when I was younger, but eventually football and speedway were crossing over so I thought I'd pick one. It was a good day that Charity match, I enjoyed it. I don't think I'll be playing much after that crash.

"I'm always up for anything for the Ben Fund, in the last year I've seen the benefit of what they do. The Ben Fund helped me out quite a bit after the crash, which was important. Especially when you're not living with your mum and dad any more! When you've got a family and a mortgage on the house to pay for, the Ben Fund helps out a lot."

Undaunted by his last race of 2021, he is back for the new season returning to Armadale where he was a popular team member for the second half of the 2019 season. He'll be racing home and away against Berwick on 15th/16th April, with Monarchs being quite late starters this year.

James is 28 now but retains both his youthful appearance and his enthusiasm for the sport. He's particularly looking forward to his first appearance for a while at the Showground. "Peterborough's a nice track to ride, I haven't been there for a while, not since they won the league."

Then it will be down to the business of earning money for his family which will shortly be increasing. James says "The family are all good, Bella's doing well and we have another little one due in May. It's always hectic at this time of year as the Speedway starts, and I wind down from work a little bit. I'm working alongside Ricky Wells, we work for the same lad. I'll carry on doing little bits of work this year, with just riding one league, I'm not busy enough riding-wise to fully stop racing for the season.

"So when the Monarchs get started, Ricky and I will be working together Thursday, then riding against each other Friday and Saturday!"