Monday, August 11, 2014
With Friday night’s demolition of the Rye House Rockets still fresh in the mind, the ‘Case’s’ Somerset Rebels travelled to Hoddesdon on Saturday night for the return fixture, writes Dave Thompson.
The events of the previous evening and two very good victories at the Hoddesdon track earlier in the season had persuaded some that the Rebels would carry out another dismantling job on the Rockets. Those more experienced in following the Rebels on previous visits to the home of the Rockets will know, no matter what occurs away from the Hertford circuit, the Rockets can be a totally different animal on their own patch of shale, and so it proved.
The Rockets were buoyed by the return of Edward Kennett, who had missed Friday night’s encounter after aggravating a shoulder injury he had suffered a couple of weeks ago in a fall at Newcastle. For their part the Rebels tracked an unchanged side from that of the previous evening.
The home side were quickly out of the blocks, literally, as they took the opening two heats to put the Rebels under immediate pressure. Kennett took the opener, after leading at the first turn, following a level break. He was followed into the back straight by race partner Luke Bowen, who was busy holding off the attentions of Nick Morris. Morris challenged for second on the final bend of the lap, but had to wait until he ran hard under Bowen, on the opening turn of Lap 2, before he could claim the place. Charles Wright found himself in ‘No Man’s Land’ around the openers, and never really got in the hunt.
Todd Kurtz made a great start to Heat 2, and led into the back straight, only to catch a huge lift, and allow Jason Bunyan up his inside on the run to the third bend. He initial held off the experienced racer, but Bunyan had the line into the turn, and slipped through on the final two bend of the lap, and then held off Kurtz for the remainder of the race. Once again the Rebels second man could not get in a blow, and the Rockets added their second advantage.
Not to be outdone, the Rebels levelled the scores in Heat 3, when Brady Kurtz led up from the tapes. Kurtz had to hold off a brief challenge from Jason Garrity on the second turn, which he did with ease. Garrity immediately came under pressure from Pontus Aspgren, who charged through the inside to take up second on the run to the penultimate bend of the lap. Once at the head of affairs, the Rebels duo comfortably held their advantage, pulling away from the home pairing with every passing lap.
A shared heat followed, but not until the race was restarted following the referee’s decision that Olly Allen was guilty of moving at the start. Allen was again quickly away, this time with the blessing of Mick Posselwhite, and flew around the opening bend to lead onto the back straight. Anders Mellgren pressed briefly as they ran around the second turn, but could make no headway on the flying Allen. Paul Starke made up ground after a tardy start, and chased Jason Bunyan for all he was worth, but couldn’t find the speed to make an impression.
If any Rebels fans thought that those two heats signalled the end for the Rockets, their assertions could not have been further from the truth, as the home side hammered in two successive maximums to swing the momentum firmly back in their favour.
Heat 5 saw Steve Boxall and Jason Garrity break first, but Nick Morris was close up, and narrowed the gap on the run to the turn. Just as he got upsides Garrity, he got a huge shove from the Manchester born man, and was sent sailing out into the boondocks. From that point on the Rockets pair had the race to themselves, and completed a very easy 5-1.
Todd Kurtz arrived on tack for Heat 6 wearing the white helmet, but as Olly Allen was already out at the line wearing the same, he had to go back for the correct yellow cover. When the tapes rose Edward Kennett and Olly Allen broke together, but it was Kennett who took the early advantage. Allen held second place, only to see Luke Bowen cut back underneath, grabbing second place down the back straight. Allen chased Bowen, but couldn’t find a way back to second, despite the Rockets man locking up on the final bend of the second lap, and the home side moved 8-points clear.
Another Rockets advantage followed in Heat 7, when Anders Mellgren made a ‘Flying’ start, which the referee deemed acceptable. Brady Kurtz was soon in pursuit, and came with a great outside run on the second turn, but Mellgren held all the aces and repelled the young Australian’s charge. Oliver Greenwood got the better of the early exchanges with Pontus Aspgren, and even found the speed to close on Kurtz on the second lap. Aspgren put it all in to close on Greenwood, but could never get on terms with the former Rebel.
Now 10-points down, Garry May wasted no time in introducing the tactical ride in Heat 8. In a move that surprised a few he gave the ‘Black and White’ to Charles Wright, who at this point had scored only 1-point, and Paul Starke, without a point on the board, partnered him. When the tapes hit the stop, Wright flew from the line on the outside, and stormed around the whole field in the opening turns. Starke was soon in the mix, and on the second turn he shot into second spot, with Jason Bunyan and Luke Bowen floundering in his wake. The pair pulled out a good lead, and came home to bring the Rebels deficit down to just 3-points.
Heat 9 saw the visiting pair of Todd Kurtz and Olly Allen hit the front from the first turn, after Jason Garrity had made an early jump, and a Rebels maximum looked distinctly on the cards. Kurtz took up the running, with Allen in second place, but Allen ran wide as they entered the second turn on the next circuit, and Garrity immediately took advantage of the error, slipping through on the inside of the Rebels skipper. Kurtz held the lead, and was never troubled to the flag, and the Rebels were now only 1-point adrift.
Heat 10 was shared, but it opened with the Rebels holding a maximum advantage. Pontus Aspgren led from Brady Kurtz, until Kurtz made a sweeping move around the wide line in the opening turns. Edward Kennett was close up and shot down the inside of Aspgren onto the back straight. He set off after Kurtz, closing him down over the next lap. By the time they hit the second bend again he challenged Kurtz inside the turn and down the back straight, but the 17-year-old showed an old head on young shoulders, and didn’t panic. As they reached the third turn, he coolly dropped it right back over the charging Kennett, blocking his run and clamping him to the kerb.
Kennett gathered himself up, and on the next lap he threw in a wide challenge, temping Kurtz to cover the move, and when he did, Kennett made a superb cut back off the final turn of the lap to grab the lead, much to the delight of the cheering Rockets fans and, to be fair, the applause of the watching Rebels supporters as he rode out the final lap to share the points.
The Rebels moved into the lead in the following heat as Nick Morris disputed the lead with Anders Mellgren. Morris took up the running on the opening bend, with Mellgren and Charles Wright close up. Wright threw down the gauntlet to Mellgren, only to run wide on the second turn and let Oliver Greenwood up his inside. Wright stuck to his task, and was back into third before the second lap was up, coming around the outside of Greenwood off the final turn. The advantage took the Rebels into the lead by a single point.
An eventful Heat 12 was eventually shared, but not before it was restarted twice. The original running saw Todd Kurtz trap quickly on the inside gate, and as they reached the opener he held a slender advantage. On his outside Brady Kurtz was the meat in the sandwich between Steve Boxall and Jason Bunyan. Boxall didn’t turn in as they reached the bend, and went straight on, not only taking Brady Kurtz out of the race, but also his own race partner, Jason Bunyan. Surprisingly for many, on both sides of the fence, Mick Posselwhite put all four back. Brady’s machine looked in need of some attention, and he came back to the track on his second bike.
In the restart there was movement at the start before Todd Kurtz shot forwards and destroyed the tapes. He was replaced by Paul Starke for the second restart. When they eventually got underway, it was Boxall and Bunyan who hit the front from the off, with Brady Kurtz last away. In the opening turns he made a fantastic cut back to swiftly move into second place behind Boxall. Almost at the same time Starke was past Bunyan and into third spot. Kurtz chased Boxall hard, but made no impression as the heat was shared.
Olly Allen hit the front from the tape rise in Heat 13, with Nick Morris slowly away. Morris wasted no time in recovering the poor start, and by the time they had reached the back straight he had sailed around the Rockets pair of Edward Kennett and Anders Mellgren. Kennett closed on Morris over the remainder of the lap, challenging on the inside of the second bend, before moving through down the back straight, only to see Morris execute a sweet cut back on the final bend of the lap. Kennett stuck at it, closing Morris over the final lap, and charging past on the run to the flag.
The Rebels reserves were switched in Heat 14, with Todd Kurtz coming in for Paul Starke. Pontus Aspgren led up with Oliver Greenwood alongside. Aspgren took up the running inside the first turn, but had no answer to Jason Garrity’s outside storming run. From there on Garrity had it in the bag, and despite his efforts, Aspgren could not regain the lead and the Rockets closed the gap to just a single point, as Greenwood took third place, setting up a last heat decider.
In the nominated heat, the home side tracked their two top scorers, with Edward Kennett and Jason Garrity coming to the line. The Rebels sent Nick Morris and Olly Allen to do the business, and do the business they did. Garrity led in the first turn, with Morris challenging wide. Olly Allen soon joined the fray, and he and Morris went either side of Garrity as they rounded the second turn and headed down the back straight. The pair opened up a gap over their opponents and looked to be riding to a comfortable maximum advantage, until Morris got it badly wrong coming off the final bend of the penultimate lap. Morris quickly got it under control, but his mistake had let Garrity close the gap, but once he got it back together he easily held off the challenge.
The resulting ‘Full House’ had given the Rebels a slender 5-point victory, and one that many thought would be of a much greater, but to others the fight put up by the Rockets was no surprise. The ‘Case’s’ Somerset Rebels had produced a battling performance, and one that each and every member of the septet had contributed to in no small way. As far as points were concerned, top billing went to Olly Allen, with a tally of 11, and included three wins, and points added in every one of the races he contested. He was ably supported by Brady Kurtz (9 pts), Nick Morris (8+1 pts) and Charles Wright (8 pts).
With two victories over the Rockets in as many days, the Rebels are in superb form at the moment, especially at home. They will need to continue in that vein, as they will play host to the league’s current top team, the Edinburgh Monarchs, on Wednesday evening at the Oak Tree Arena, a clash that is being highly anticipated, in Somerset, as well as the wider Speedway world.
Rye House – 44
1. Edward Kennett 3, 3, 3, 2, 0 = 11
2. Luke Bowen 1, 2*, 0, 0 = 3+1
3. Steve Boxall 0, 3, 0, 3 = 6
4. Jason Garrity 1, 2*, 2, 3, 1 = 9+1
5. Anders Mellgren 2, 3, 2, 0 = 7
6. Oliver Greenwood 1, 1, 0, 1 = 3
7. Jason Bunyan 3, 1*, 1, 0 = 5+1
Somerset = 49
1. Nick Morris 2, 0, 3, 1, 2* = 8+1
2. Charles Wright 0, 1, 6^, 1 = 8
3. Brady Kurtz 3, 2, 2, 2 = 9
4. Pontus Aspgren 2*, 0, 1*, 2 = 5+2
5. Oliver Allen 3, 1, 1, 3, 3 = 11
6. Todd Kurtz 2, 0, 3, T, 0 = 5
7. Paul Starke 0, 0, 2*, 1* = 3+2
SCB Referee: Mick Posselwhite
Heat 01: Kennett, Morris, Bowen, Wright (4-2) (4-2) 57.3
Heat 02: Bunyan, Todd Kurtz, Greenwood, Starke (4-2) (8-4) 57.4
Heat 03: Brady Kurtz, Aspgren, Garrity, Boxall (1-5) (9-9) 56.8
Heat 04: Re-run Allen, Mellgren, Bunyan, Starke (3-3) (12-12) 56.8
Heat 05: Boxall, Garrity, Wright, Morris (5-1) (17-13) 56.1
Heat 06: Kennett, Bowen, Allen, Todd Kurtz (5-1) (22-14) 56.0
Heat 07: Mellgren, Brady Kurtz, Greenwood, Aspgren (4-2) (26-16) 57.3
Heat 08: Wright (Tactical), Starke, Bunyan, Bowen (1-8) (27-24) 57.3
Heat 09: Todd Kurtz, Garrity, Allen, Boxall (2-4) (29-28) 57.0
Heat 10: Kennett, Brady Kurtz, Aspgren, Bowen (3-3) (32-31)56.6
Heat 11: Morris, Mellgren, Wright, Greenwood (2-4) (34-35) 57.6
Heat 12: (Re-runx2) Boxall, Brady Kurtz, Starke, Bunyan (3-3) (37-38) 57.0
Heat 13: Allen, Kennett, Morris, Mellgren (2-4) (39-42) 57.3
Heat 14: Garrity, Aspgren, Greenwood, Todd Kurtz (4-2) (43-44) 57.5
Heat 15: Allen, Morris, Garrity, Kennett (1-5) (44-49) 57.8