Monday, April 14, 2014
The ‘Case’s’ Somerset Rebels travelled to the Hoddesdon home of the Rye House Rocket without the benefit of skipper Ollie Allen, who was still suffering the after effects of the previous evenings crash at the Oak Tree Arena, writes Dave Thompson.
Allen spent last season at Hoddesdon, as part of the Rockets septet, and his experience of the circuit could have proved invaluable. On the plus side the Rebels tracked Pontus Aspgren, who was also a member of that very same Rockets side. Despite having a good season in Hertfordshire, Aspgren was not retained by the Rockets promotion, but Rye House’s loss has proved to be the Rebels gain.
Having dropped points in the previous day’s encounter, at home to the Peterborough Panthers, the Rebels were looking to make amends by maximising their points haul from this Southern Group match in the Premier League Cup.
The Rebels started steadily, with two shared heats, both of which were won by a home rider, with the Rebels packing the places. In Heat 1 all four riders broke level, with Eddie Kennett coming across from the outside gate and tightening up the field as they entered the turn. He led out of the turn, with Todd Kurtz and Nick Morris close behind. Mathieu Trésarrieu was trying to get on terms with the Rebels duo, when he fell on the first bend of lap 2. He regained his machine and continued a long way behind. Kennett won comfortably to share the points.
Paul Starke had only just entered the track when his machine stopped, and wouldn’t restart, but a quick change saw him at the gate very quickly, only for the errant machine to reappear just before the start, and for Starke to regain his original steed. When the tapes rose it was Luke Bowen who made the best of a level break, coming out of the first bend ahead of Starke, who ran wide in the next when challenging, he then dropped behind the field. He fought back and came with a good run to overhaul Simon Lambert off the last turn of lap 3, and share the points with Charles Wright in second spot.
Brady Kurtz shot off the line to lead on the inside of the first turn of the third heat, as Pontus Aspgren caught a big lift off the tapes. The two Jason’s, Bunyan and Garrity ran wide in the turn, and Aspgren drove through the inside to take second place down the back straight. Once behind his race partner the pair pulled clear for an easy maximum advantage.
The Rebel’s lead became 6-points, as they took a 2-4 win in the very next heat. Brady Kurtz had made a quick return to the track, as the rider replacement for Ollie Allen, and also made a quick getaway from the tapes, unfortunately it was a little too quick for referee Jim Lawrence’s liking, and the race was immediately called back. In the restart he was again into his stride quickly, this time with no objections from the referee. He reached the turn alongside Steve Boxall, but had the better inside run, to lead off the next, moving Boxall wide in the process. Boxall’s chase brought him no joy, with Kurtz holding a good lead to the flag. Paul Starke was easy in third, when Simon Lambert, looking extremely uncomfortable around the technical Hoddesdon circuit, retired at the end of the second lap.
The 6-point lead quickly became ten, as a second ‘Full House’ came the Rebels way in Heat 5. Todd Kurtz led on the wide line around the first turn, with Jason Bunyan and Jason Garrity in the minor places. Nick Morris was close up, and took a wide line around the final two bends of the second lap to account for Garrity. At the same point on the next lap, he repeated the move on Bunyan, who Kurtz was holding with some ease at the time. Once Morris took up station behind Kurtz, the race was done, and the pair came home with a cigar on.
Unsurprisingly Eddie Kennett appeared for the next heat, wearing the ‘Black and White’, to take a tactical ride. Pontus Aspgren took the rider replacement spot, but as the tapes rose he was only third away, but he made a neat cut back, driving under Kennett and Mathieu Trésarrieu before the second turn. Kennett set about regaining the lead, but Aspgren had all the solutions in his pocket, and never gave the Rockets number one an inch of daylight to the line, but the Rockets still took a 5-3 advantage, courtesy of the tactical ride.
Heat 7 took two re-runs before it was completed, due mainly to two level breaks, and some robust riding from Steve Boxall. The original start saw Boxall, Brady Kurtz and Pontus Aspgren reach the turn together, with Boxall making a lazy turn into the first bend, to keep the Rebels pair out, with the result that Kurtz took a fall, sending him tumbling towards the fence. All four were put back, and when the tapes rose again the original three fast starters were level again. This time Boxall tightened them all up, moving slightly off the inside line, again taking his time to enter the bend, moving Kurtz out into Aspgren, who was turning in, and the Swede hit the deck.
Start number three was almost a carbon copy of the other two, with all three combatants reaching the turn together. They all successfully negotiated the turn, and the Rebels pair moved wider to challenge on the wide line. It was just enough to give Boxall a clear run, and he took it up down the back straight. Brady Kurtz gave chase, but he couldn’t close the gap, and Boxall eventually ran out the winner from a hard chasing Rebels pair.
The Rockets switched reserves in Heat 8, giving Luke Bowen the ride in place of Lambert, but the move was thwarted as Paul Starke made the best of another level break, to glide inside the fast starting Rockets pair of Bowen and Mathieu Trésarrieu. Once at the front he rode a superb race to hold off the strong challenge of Bowen. The Rockets man probed in and out to find away by the Worcester based rider, but Starke covered all his moves for all four laps. With Todd Kurtz stuck on the outside at the first turn, and left with nowhere to go, he never got in a blow on Trésarrieu, and the heat was shared.
The Rebels were back in charge in Heat 9, posting a fourth heat advantage on the night. In what was now becoming a familiar sight, the field broke level again, but it was the rider replacement entrant, Nick Morris who took up the running around the opening curves, demoting the Rockets Garrity and Bunyan to the minor places. Charles Wright was soon putting a pass on Bunyan, and as they ran onto the back straight he was in third, chasing Garrity. Bunyan put in a good chase, and as Morris pulled further away, Wright held off Bunyan’s challenges to the line.
A shared heat followed. The Rockets pair of Kennett and Trésarrieu led up, but around the opening bends Pontus Aspgren and Brady Kurtz took the shortest way inside Kennett. Kennett fought back, and down the home straight at the end of the first lap, he moved back into third, passing Kurtz on the way to the line. Aspgren closed down Garrity, moving into the lead on the back straight of Lap 2. Once Aspgren hit the front there was no way back for the Rockets pairing, and he took a comfortable win.
A third maximum advantage in the Rebels favour was posted in Heat 11, when Todd Kurtz and Nick Morris bolted from the tapes. Morris lead inside the first turn, but Kurtz moved into the lead down the home straight on the second lap. Steve Boxall moved into third on the third lap, but by this time Kurtz, with Morris riding shotgun, had the race under lock and key.
With the Rockets now 14-points down, Heat 12 was the last time they could use their second tactical ride, Unfortunately they were short on options, as they had introduced Luke Bowen as a reserve change, and as it wasn’t one of his programmed rides he couldn’t take the tactical ride. The Rockets only alternative was Jason Bunyan, whose night at this point had been less than productive. As the tapes rose, Brady Kurtz caught a lift, and was beaten to the drop by the rest of the field.
Bowen made a superb start, and led up to the turn, with Charles Wright in second place. Brady Kurtz had recovered, and was challenging Jason Bunyan wide around the second turn, but couldn’t make the move stick. He didn’t panic, and gathered himself up for a smooth run around the next lap and a half, coming wide off the final turn of lap two to pass the experienced Rockets man as they entered the straight. Wright chased Bowen, but made no impression, leaving the Rebels to share the points.
Heat 13 saw Todd Kurtz take the rider replacement place and he flew from the tapes to lead up. His position at the head of affairs only lasted to the turn, as Eddie Kennett slipped through the inside, but Kurtz challenged back on the outside. Behind them, Nick Morris recovered from a sluggish start to demote Steve Boxall to last place with a neat inside move on the final turns of the lap, before moving in front of his partner on the next lap. Boxall was next to put a move on Kurtz, slipping inside the last turn of lap two to make third place his. Morris chased Kennett, but couldn’t get on terms, and the Rockets cut the lead by 2-points.
They reduced the Rebels lead again in Heat 14, as they posted another 4-2 advantage. Luke Bowen made a rapid exit from the gate, leading before the turn, with Pontus Aspgren close up. Jason Garrity was next in line, with Paul Starke harrying him all the way, and that was the race in a nutshell, Aspgren putting Bowen under pressure, and Starke doing likewise to Garrity, but neither had any joy at the flag.
With 10-points separating the sides, the Rebels needed only to avoid a home maximum advantage to take all the points, and with Nick Morris and Pontus Aspgren nominated for the heat they had every chance of doing just that. The fly in the ointment was that they faced the Rockets top two, Kennett and Boxall. However once the tapes rose the Rebels soon put the issue beyond any doubt. The Rockets pair broke on a 5-1, but as they exited the second bend Boxall had moved wide to run down the outside off the turn, but he reckoned without Kennett doing the same, and the pair almost came together, leaving Boxall with nowhere to go. The Rebels pair required no second invitation, pouncing on Boxall, and running down his inside to demote him to last place.
Nick Morris chased down Kennett, and came with a good run from the back straight of Lap 2 to the finish line at the start of the third lap, and on the back straight of the penultimate lap he charged up the inside of Kennett to grab the lead, only to see Kennett come right back around him off the final bend of the lap. Morris hit back, repeating his pass down the back straight of the final lap, leaving Kennett in second. Any small chance Kennett had of regaining the lead went when he ran very wide on the last turn, but in truth Morris already had his measure. Aspgren was chased all the way by Boxall, but he was never in any danger of giving up third place, as the ‘Case’s’ Somerset Rebels ran out 40-52 winners and took all the available points, putting them in the reckoning for a top two finish in the group.
Nick Morris was stand in skipper on the night, and produced a captain’s performance with 14+2, including a good win in the final heat. Once again Pontus Aspgren figured well on the score chart, with 12+2. Both Kurtz brothers had a good showing, and the two reserves gave a good account of themselves. Ironically the measure of the Rebels success is the form of the Rockets Number One, Edward Kennett. In their two home matches to date, Kennett had only been beaten once by an opponent in ten rides, and in his next five the Rebels had lowered his colours three times.
After their escapades in Hoddesdon, the Rebels attentions turned briefly to their first Premier League action, as they took on Scunthorpe at the Eddie Wright Raceway on Sunday (13th April), where they took a single league point after suffering a narrow 2-point defeat, in another last heat decider. They will return to League Cup action when they take on Plymouth, both home and away on Friday and Saturday (18th and 19th April).
Rye House Rockets 40
1. Edward Kennett - 3, 4^, 1*, 3, 2 = 13+1
2. Matt Tresarrieu - 0, 1*, 1*, 2 = 4+2
3. Jason Bunyan - 1, 1, 0, 0 = 2
4. Jason Garrity - 0, 0, 2, 1 = 3
5. Steve Boxall - 2, 3, 1, 1, 0 = 7
6. Luke Bowen - 3, 2, 0, 3, 3 = 11
7. Simon Lambert - 0, R, 0 = 0
Somerset Rebels 52
1. Nick Morris - 2, 2*, 3, 2*, 2, 3 = 14+2
2. Todd Kurtz - 1*, 3, 0, 3, 0 = 7+1
3. Brady Kurtz - 3, 3, 2, 0, 1* = 9+1
4. Pontus Aspgren - 2*, 3, 1*, 3, 2, 1 = 12+2
5. Ollie Allen R/R – Rider Replacement
6. Charles Wright - 2, 0, 1, 2 = 5
7. Paul Starke - 1*, 1, 3, 0 = 5+1
Heat 01: Kennett, Morris, T Kurtz, Tresarrieu (fl-rmnt) (3-3) (3-3) 57.1
Heat 02: Bowen, Wright, Starke, Lambert (3-3) (6-6) 57.8
Heat 03: B Kurtz, Aspgren, Bunyan, Garrity (1-5) (7-11) 58.0
Heat 04: (Re-run) B Kurtz, Boxall, Starke, Lambert (Ret) (2-4) (9-15) 57.7
Heat 05: T Kurtz, Morris, Bunyan, Garrity (1-5) (10-20) 58.0
Heat 06: Aspgren, Kennett (Tactical), Tresarrieu, Wright (5-3) (15-23) 57.2
Heat 07: (Re-run x 2) Boxall, B Kurtz, Aspgren, Lambert (3-3) (18-26) 58.0
Heat 08: Starke, Bowen, Tresarrieu, T Kurtz (3-3) (21-29) 58.7
Heat 09: Morris, Garrity, Wright, Bunyan (2-4) (23-33) 57.6
Heat 10: Aspgren, Tresarrieu, Kennett, B Kurtz (3-3) (26-36) 57.8
Heat 11: T Kurtz, Morris, Boxall, Bowen (1-5) (27-41) 58.1
Heat 12: Bowen, Wright, B Kurtz, Bunyan (Tactical) (3-3) (30-44) 58.6
Heat 13: Kennett, Morris, Boxall, T Kurtz (4-2) (34-46) 58.2
Heat 14: Bowen, Aspgren, Garrity, Starke (4-2) (38-48) 58.6
Heat 15: Morris, Kennett, Aspgren, Boxall (2-4) (40-52) 58.4