Somerset Rebels too strong for Glasgow
20:31 22 June 2014
After last Friday’s disappointing exit from the KO Cup, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels turned their attentions back to Premier League matters with the visit of the Glasgow Tigers to the Oaktree Arena in a match sponsored by The Grand Pier (Weston-super-Mare), long-time supporters of the Rebels, writes Ian Belcher.
Somerset went into the match without the services of their Swedish recruit Pontus Aspgren, who was side-lined due to a broken bone in his hand, following a spill at Newcastle last Sunday, while Glasgow also had their injury problems with Belle Vue’s Michael Palm Toft replacing Dimitri Bergé at reserve.
The opening heat was a fairly tame affair, Glasgow’s Christian Henry just getting the better of Nick Morris going into the first turn, Morris then locking up slightly as the riders exited the pits bend for the first time, which gave Henry some breathing space, and although Wright was to then take up the cudgel, Henry had established a more than decent lead by then which Wright was unable to close down sufficiently to mount any sort of challenge on the Australian.
Heat 2 saw the Somerset bandwagon start to roll as Todd Kurtz and Paul Starke posted the Rebels first maximum heat win of the night, their task being made that much easier when Palm Toft was excluded for a tapes offence, he being forced to start off a 15 metre handicap as a consequence.
Further woes were to hit the Glasgow side in the following race when Anders Thomsen came to grief, trying what could only be described as a move which was doomed to failure, in his attempt to pass Todd Kurtz, who was holding station at the time behind younger brother Brady, the Somerset duo heading for a 2nd successive 5-1 for the Rebels.
Thankfully for the young Dane, his race partner Rusty Harrison was sufficiently adrift of the field to be able to take evasive action by laying his bike down to avoid running into the stricken Thomsen.
With the race into in 3rd lap and the result not in doubt, referee Chris Gay decided to award the race as a 5-1 to the Rebels to take the home side into an early 16-8 lead.
If any Somerset fans had fears regarding the fitness of club captain Olly Allen following his withdrawal from last Sunday’s match at Newcastle, with a dislocated shoulder, they need not have worried as he sped from the tapes in heat 4 to take the easiest of race wins, so much so that he was the length of a straight ahead of the Glasgow duo by the time he took the chequered flag to win the race in the fastest time of the night to maintain Somerset’s 8-point advantage.
The next four heats were to see Somerset stretch out that lead to a massive 24-points as the home riders hit in no less than four consecutive 5-1 heat advantages, but they didn’t have thing all their own way as they were made to work for those points, as heat 5 saw the Tigers duo of Wölbert and Henry hit the front out of the tapes, but their joy was short-lived as Brady Kurtz took the shortest route around the inside of the opening turn to take the lead.
Charles Wright was then quickly past Wölbert and into 3rd place, he then setting after Henry as he looked to join Kurtz up front. As the race progressed so Wright inexorably closed Henry down until the inevitable happened as Wright, fresh from his appearance in Monday’s British Championship Final, flew past the Glasgow number 2 to take 2nd place.
Wright was back in the action again in the following heat as he and race-partner Nick Morris were on the receiving end of an aggressive 1st bend by Glasgow skipper Theo Pijper, but before the lap was out, the Somerset pair had caught and passed the ‘not so Flying’ Dutchman, they then pulling away for Somerset’s 4th maximum race win in the opening six h
Heat 7 was to see Olly Allen make another jet propelled start for the Rebels, he then cleverly moving over the Glasgow duo of Thomsen and Harrison in the first turn to allow Todd Kurtz to move through into 2nd place.
Not to be out-done, Thomsen fought back and the next three laps were to see a ding-dong battle between Kurtz and Thomsen for 2nd place, the pair passing and re-passing each other throughout before Kurtz finally made the decisive move to secure 2nd spot and follow Allen across the finishing line.
If Glasgow were beginning to think that it wasn’t going to be their night, this was all but confirmed in heat 8, it being their first use of the double point tactical ride with heat 1race winner Christian Henry given the responsibility of trying to claw the visitors back into the match, but it proved to be a disaster for the Tigers.
After a disappointing 2nd ride last place, Somerset reserve Paul Starke flew from the tapes to take the lead, with Henry emerging from a keenly contested first bend in 2nd place. As the riders entered the third bend, however, Henry seemed to press the ‘panic mode’ button and appeared to run into the back of Starke’s machine, the rash manoeuvre having only one possible out-come, that of Henry taking a nasty looking fall, it probably been more by luck than judgement that Starke didn’t also come to grief.
Thankfully Henry was able to eventually get back to his feet and walk back to the pits, but with the inevitable consequence of him being excluded from the re-run.
That re-run once again saw Starke take the lead from the tapes, but behind him Wright and Palm Toft were wheel to wheel as they fought for 2nd place before Wright finally managed to see off the Dane, the resultant 5-1 taking the Rebels into a 24 point lead, 36-12.
With the match all but over as a contest, Somerset continued to pile the pressure on the hapless Tigers, Allen making it 3 wins out of three in heat 9, he making sure that his opposite number, Theo Pijper, wasn’t able to make a big outside sweep in the opening turn, Allen then clearing off into the distance for another comfortable 3 points.
The match reached its two-thirds distance with yet another Somerset maximum 5-1 race win Morris and Wright dominating proceedings from the tapes to head home the visiting duo of Thomsen and Harrison to take the Rebels into a commanding 30-point lead with just 5 heats remaining.
Glasgow’s only real moments of joy were to come in heats 11 and 12, the former of which saw them post their first heat advantage of the night as Wölbert, who had looked woeful all night, and Henry took advantage of Allen’s bike never getting off the start-line, the Somerset skipper’s machine shedding a chain as the tapes rose, Wölbert suddenly coming to life for about the only time of the night to take the race win, but any hopes the Tigers might have harboured of taking full points were dashed as Todd Kurtz fought back to secure 2nd place from Henry.
Heat 12 was to see Glasgow’s final, and some might say forlorn, throw of the die as Anders Thomsen took their second tactical ride of the night.
In probably the race of the night, the opening lap saw the riders head down the back straight 4 a-breast, with Thomsen just getting his nose in front ahead of Brady Kurtz as the riders took to the 3rd bend.
In a desperate attempt to join his race-partner up front to fully maximise the tactical ride, Palm Toft came steaming up the inside of Kurtz as the riders took to the 1st bend for the second time, he giving the young Australian an almighty broadside as he moved through and into 2nd place.
Kurtz, however, was not to be out-done, as he then set about chasing down the Tigers duo, he first caught and passed Palm Toft as they started the penultimate lap, and with half a lap of that he had manufactured a pass on Thomsen to take the lead and virtually nullify Glasgow’s use of the tactical ride, it only yielding the visitors a meagre 2-point race advantage.
‘Normal service’ was resumed for the Rebels in heat 13 as Morris and Allen went either side of Wölbert to then race away for what was to be Somerset’s 8th maximum race win of the night, it taking the match score to 55-25 in favour of the Rebels with just two heats remaining.
The penultimate race was to see Glasgow’s Rusty Harrison, in what was probably his only telling move of the match, hit the front from the tapes, but within a lap he was caught and passed by Brady Kurtz, the 17 year-old going on to take his fourth race win of the night, while elder brother Todd finally got the better of Lykke-Nielsen to secure 3rd place.
Heat 15 saw Brady Kurtz and Nick Morris chosen by Somerset team manager Garry May as the Rebels’ representatives, while Kevin Wölbert and Theo Pijper came to the tapes as the Tigers’ chosen duo.
The first attempt to run the race saw Kurtz penalised for a tapes offence, he having to start the re-run from a 15 metre handicap as a consequence.
That re-run saw the Tigers duo hit the front from the off, but Morris was soon up and passing Wölbert, he then started his chase down of race leader Pijper. Determined to make up for his tapes exclusion and subsequent 15 metre handicap, Kurtz quickly built up a head of steam and quite unbelievably, even before the first lap was over he had caught and passed Wölbert to move into 3rd place, Wölbert eventually giving up on proceedings as he pulled into the pits on the final lap from a very distant last place.
Meanwhile up front Morris was gaining on Pijper, but never really got himself close enough to make any sort of meaningful challenge on the Dutchman, leaving Pijper to take the race win, but it was scant consolation for the Glasgow as Somerset took the match and all 3 league points 62-30.
“The boys were really on it tonight,” said Somerset team manager Garry May afterwards, “and were in superb form throughout, never letting Glasgow even a sniff of causing a possible upset. Going into the match without Pontus (Aspgren) and having to use rider replacement is never ideal as it can place additional strain on the other six riders, but they made light of Pontus’ absence and were simply too hot for Glasgow to handle and we were more than good value for our 32 point win.”
N Morris 1’ 2’ 3 3 2 - - 11+2
C Wright 2 2’ 3 2’ 2’ - - 11+3
B Kurtz 3 3 1 3 3 1◊’ - 14+1
Rider replacement – Pontus Aspgren
O Allen 3 3 3 R 2’ - - 11+1
T Kurtz 3 2’ 2’ 2 1 - - 10+2
P Starke 2’ 0 3 0 - - - 5+1
Team Manager: Garry May
K Wölbert 0 0 3 1 R - - 4
C Henry 3 1 X^ 1 - - - 5
A Thomsen X 1 1 4^ - - - 6
R Harrison 1 R 0 2 - - - 3
T Pijper 2 1 2 0 3 - - 8
K Lykke-Nielsen 1 0 R R - - - 1
M Palm Toft 0◊ 1’ 1 1’ - - - 3+2
Team Manager: Stewart Dickson
Referee: Chris Gay
HEAT DETAILS SCORE
1: Henry, Wright, Morris, Wölbert, 58.12 (3-3)
2: (re-run) T Kurtz, Starke, Palm Toft, Lykke-Nielsen (exc tapes, 15m), 58.94 (8-4)
3: (awarded) B Kurtz, T Kurtz, Harrison, Thomsen (f.exc), no time (13-5)
4: Allen, Pijper, Palm Toft, Starke, 58.00 (16-8)
5: B Kurtz, Wright, Henry, Wölbert, 58.53 (21-9)
6: Wright, Morris, Pijper, Lykke-Nielsen, 58.72 (26-10)
7: Allen, T Kurtz, Thomsen, Harrison (ret), 58.37 (31-11)
8: (re-run) Starke, Wright, Palm Toft, Henry (tactical ride, f.exc), 59.18 (36-12)
9: Allen, Pijper, B Kurtz, Lykke-Nielsen (ret), 58.41 (40-14)
10: (re-run) Morris, Wright, Thomsen, Harrison, 59.50 (45-15)
11: Wölbert, T Kurtz, Henry, Allen (ret), 59.57 (47-19)
12: B Kurtz, Thomsen (tact ride), Palm Toft, Starke, 59.57 (50-24)
13: Morris, Allen, Wölbert, Pijper, 59.12 (55-25)
14: B Kurtz, Harrison, T Kurtz, Lykke-Nielsen, 59.07 (59-27)
15: Pijper, Morris, B Kurtz (exc tapes, 15m), Wölbert (ret), 59.63 (62-30)