Somerset Rebels march on with Workington win

Rohan Tungate is given the traditional bumps after his maximum for Somerset Rebels in the meeting wi

Rohan Tungate is given the traditional bumps after his maximum for Somerset Rebels in the meeting with iorkington - Credit: Archant

For the second week in succession, ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels got off to a slow start, this time against a strong, determined and clearly fired up Workington Comets, writes Dave Thompson.

Tony Jackson’s men had come to do a job, and for the early part of the meeting they pummelled the Rebels to the extent that Garry May was forced to utilise a tactical ride, something that has not been seen at the Oaktree Arena for a very long time, as his charges trailed by 10-points at Heat 5.

Ricky Wells got the ball rolling for the Comets, as he beat a fast trapping Bradley Wilson-Dean into the turn. An agonisingly slow start from Josh Grajczonek immediately put the home side under pressure, as Wells held off a dogged pursuit from Wilson-Dean. Grajczonek finally got himself in the hunt on the final lap, grabbing third place from Mason Campton, as they ran to the first turn, giving the Rebels a share of the points, a situation which one lap earlier had seemed highly unlikely.

Things didn’t get any better in Heat 2, in fact they got decidedly worse, when a rapid exit from the tapes saw Adam Roynon just beat Zach Wajtknecht and Jake Allen into the first curve. Matters were made even more serious when the pair were swallowed up by Matt Williamson mid turn. Allen reacted by sweeping past Williamson as they ran the back straight, to give chase to a fast disappearing Roynon. Wajtknecht looked to be getting back on terms, and was challenging Williamson for third, only to see his chance of the place disappear when he locked up slightly on the final bend of the penultimate lap. Allen gave a spirited chase, but could not peg back the flying Roynon, as the Comets took a narrow lead.

That narrow lead quickly became a six point lead after Heat 3, where Paul Starke looked to have eased the Rebels pain, with a lightning start, and a lead into the first turn. Inexplicably, having led, he was engulfed coming off the next bend, as both Kenneth Hansen, and former Rebel Rasmus Jensen, cruised by him as the field hit the back straight. Once at the head of affairs, the Comets duo pulled clear to an easy maximum advantage, as Jensen took the win and Charles Wright brought up the rear after a short-lived move into third place in the mid stages of the race.


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There was a brief respite for the Rebels, when Rohan Tungate muscled his way through the field in the opening turns of the next heat to lead onto the back straight. Zach Wajtknecht had made a good start, taking third place in the early running, before Claus Vissing recovered from Tungate’s opening bend ‘nudge’, to move back through the field and into second place on Lap 2. Despite his progress to give chase, Vissing had no chance of catching the flying Tungate and the points were shared.

The Comets kept up the pressure, and their superior gating was winning the day at this point, as the home side appeared unable to match their speed from the tapes. Heat 5 illustrated that perfectly, once it actually got under way, after a restart where Mason Campton got a warning after an early getaway. At the second time of asking the Comets hit the front at the turn, on a maximum until Charles Wright got the better of Campton down the back straight. The Kurri Kurri born man never gave up the chase, and by the second turn of Lap 3, he was back on terms, and came through off the turn with a hard move, which saw him squeeze up Wright, denying him a clear run down the back straight. Wright retired on the final lap as the Comets took a ‘Full House to move 10-points to the good.

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The conclusion of Heat 5 triggered an occurrence not seen at the Oaktree Arena for some considerable time, Garry May reaching for the ‘Black and White’ on his home circuit. The move paid partial dividends, in reducing the deficit to 5-points, when Josh Grajczonek made a flying start to lead all the way. Claus Vissing had given chase, until he made a mistake, and fell from a clear second place on the final turn of Lap 3. The race was stopped, Vissing excluded, and the race awarded 7-2 to the Rebels by the referee, Christina Turnbull.

That was the first heat advantage of the night for the home team, triggering a comeback of epic proportions by the Rebels, which saw them go on a run that denied the Comets another heat advantage all night. Rohan Tungate added the next win, when he made a jet propelled opening to Heat 7, and led every inch of the way. Jake Allen made a relatively slow start, but was soon on the move as he came from wide to execute a smart cut back up the inside of Rasmus Jensen as they entered the third turn. Not content with third place, he went hunting for Kenneth Hansen in second. He soon chased him down, and was all over the rapid Dane, but try as he might with moves inside and out, he couldn’t find a route around Hansen, who held him off until the flag.

Garry May’s men took a narrow one point lead with a superb maximum in Heat 8, despite the race suffering two restarts. The first came when Matt Williamson made an early move, which earned him a warning. The second after Mason Campton and Bradley Wilson-Dean contested a very tight opening turn out wide, with Wilson-Dean hitting the dirt when Campton left him little room. The view from the referee’s box was an unsatisfactory start, with all four returning to the tapes.

When the heat finally got under way for real, Jake Allen and Wilson-Dean flew from the traps to lead every inch of the way, with their only small ‘moment’ coming when they both headed for the same piece of dirt in the opening turn. Once successfully negotiated, they pulled clear from the turn to take a smooth and uneventful ‘Full House’ and head the score chart for the first time on the night.

Paul Starke blasted between the Comets pairing of Claus Vissing and Adam Roynon down the back straight to take up the running of Heat 9, before pulling away to take a comfortable win. The real action was going on behind Starke, where Jake Allen, taking his third ride on the spin, was trying everything he knew to split the Comets duo, whilst for their part, Vissing and Roynon were putting up the ‘Mobile Roadblock’. Allen persisted, and his tenacity finally paid dividends, as his powerful final bend run saw him just defeat Roynon on the line to grab another advantage for the Rebels.

A flashing start by Rasmus Jensen saw him lead into the opening turns of Heat 10, but he had no answer to Josh Grajczonek’s storming back straight charge, as the Rebels skipper hit the front on the run to bend three. Bradley Wilson-Dean sat in a comfortable third place from the off, a position he held throughout despite Kenneth Hansen’s efforts, none of which put him anywhere near taking away Wilson-Dean’s point.

Heat 11 brought yet another heat advantage to the home side, after another restarted race. This time Adam Roynon got no further than the back straight, falling as he exited Bend 2, with no one else near. He was quickly back on his feet, none the worse for his experience, but as the cause of the stoppage he was excluded from the re-run. Rohan Tungate and Ricky Wells contested the run to the turn, but it was the diminutive Tungate who reigned supreme at the opening curve. From that point on it was race over, as he never gave Wells another moment of encouragement. Zach Wajtknecht took third place, and was never far off the rear of Wells wheel. In just six heats, the Rebels had turned round 17-points, coming from ten down to lead by seven going into the final four races.

The Comets finally stopped the Rebels charge, as they shared Heat 12, but the respite was to be only a brief one. Charles Wright and Jake Allen made a blinding start to lead up on the maximum advantage. Kenneth Hansen came with a wet sail, cruising around the whole field off the second bend to lead into the third turn. Wright and Allen had no answer to Hansen’s power run, and he pulled away to take the most comfortable of wins. Allen rode a superb final two bends of the opening lap to frustrate Adam Roynon’s efforts to take a point. Roynon was to eventually retire before completing the final lap.

In Heat 13, Rohan Tungate and Josh Grajczonek showed the kind of form that brought them the Premier League Pairs win, as they completely bamboozled Ricky Wells on the opening two laps. Wells had made a fine start to lead up, and still headed the field as they hit the back straight. As they hit the final turn of the lap, Tungate came with a wide run, hitting the front as they ran down the straight. Heading into the first turn of Lap 2, Wells looked and moved to the outside, expecting a similar challenge from Grajczonek, but the Rebels top man made a sweet cut back to take advantage of the gaping chasm left by the American on the inside. Wells later said that he didn’t know where to look, as the challenges came from all angles. The resulting 5-1 to the home side put the outcome beyond doubt, as the Rebels opened up an eleven point gap with just two heats to go.

If anyone harboured notions that the Rebels would take their foot off the gas, they were sadly mistaken. Jake Allen and Rasmus Jensen hit the front early on in Heat 14, with Allen just heading the piece at the opener. Jensen was not giving up easily, and cut back off the third turn, running Allen hard to the fence in the final turn of the lap. Paul Starke took up the chase, and over the next two laps he closed in on Jensen. By the time they hit the first turn for the final time he was in a position to pounce, and with a clever cut back he charged up Jensen’s inside, before smartly moving wide to rebuff Jensen’s attempted fight back.

Probably with an eye to this weekend’s Premier League Fours competition, Garry May didn’t hesitate in sending out his ‘Big Guns’ in the nominated heat, where Rohan Tungate and Josh Grajczonek faced Ricky Wells and Kenneth Hansen. Tungate made a blinding start, and Grajczonek put the heat beyond any doubt as he moved Kenneth Hansen out to where the buses don’t run in the opening turn. With Hansen condemned to the ‘Boondocks’, and Wells comprehensively beaten at the start, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels duo cruised to an unchallenged victory to post a final result of 55-38 to the home side.

To be fair to the Workington Comets, the result does not reflect the quality of opposition they put up; early in the meeting they had the Rebels well under the cosh, something that has not happened at the Oaktree Arena this season. Even against Newcastle last week the Rebels kept it close, before going on to win. This time they looked in real trouble before turning on the afterburners to come good in the final two thirds of the match.

Ricky Wells top scored for the visitors with 10-points, and was ably supported by both Rasmus Jensen (7pts) and Kenneth Hansen (7+1), as they had made the home side sit up and take notice in the first third of the match. However, even with Charles Wright having a bad day at the office, the Rebels showed their strength in depth, with good returns from Jake Allen (9+1), Paul Starke (8pts) and Bradley Wilson-Dean (6+1), whilst the top end was provided by skipper Josh Grajczonek with a superb 14+3, which was only eclipsed by a magnificent full maximum 15pt return from Rohan Tungate. Tungate’s performance, quite rightly, earned him the ‘Bumps’ and also the ‘Somerset Rider of the Night’ award, which was presented by Somerset Speedway staff member Charlotte Bishop, who was celebrating her 21st Birthday from last week.

The Rebels now move on to Peterborough, for this weekend’s Premier League Fours festival of Speedway, looking to add a third 4’s title to their 2005 and 2014 victories. ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels are in a tough group, but who would bet against another title, especially in the form they have displayed this season.

Meeting statistics

Somerset Rebels - 55

1. Josh Grajczonek - 1*, 6^, 3, 2*, 2* = 14+3

2. Bradley Wilson-Dean - 2, 1, 2*, 1 = 6+1

3. Charles Wright - 0, R, 2 = 2

4. Paul Starke - 1, 1, 3, 3 = 8

5. Rohan Tungate - 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 15

6. Jake Allen - 2, 1, 3, 1, 1*, 1 = 9+1

7. Zach Wajtknecht - 0, 0, 1, = 1

Workington Comets - 38

1. Ricky Wells - 3, 3, 2, 1, 1 = 10

2. Mason Campton - 0, 2*, 1, = 3+1

3. Kenneth Hansen - 2*, 2, 0, 3, 0 = 7+1

4. Rasmus Jensen - 3, 0, 2, 2 = 7

5. Claus Vissing - 2, FX, 2, 0 = 4

6. Adam Roynon - 3, 2, 0, FX, R = 5

7. Matt Williamson - 1, 1*, 0, 0 = 2+1

SCB Referee: Christina Turnbull

Heat Details

Heat 01: Wells, Wilson-Dean, Grajczonek, Campton (3-3) (3-3) 56.69

Heat 02: Roynon, Allen, Williamson, Wajtknecht (2-4) (5-7) 57.22

Heat 03: Jensen, Hansen, Starke, Wright (1-5) (6-12) 56.97

Heat 04: Tungate, Vissing, Williamson, Wajtknecht (3-3) (9-15) 56.68

Heat 05: (Re-Run) Wells, Campton, Starke, Wright (Retired) (1-5) (10-20) 57.50

Heat 06: Grajczonek (Tactical), Roynon, Wilson-Dean, Vissing (Fell/Excluded) (7-2) (17-22) AWARDED

Heat 07: Tungate, Hansen, Allen, Jensen (4-2) (21-24) 57.31

Heat 08: (Re-Runx2) Allen, Wilson-Dean, Campton, Williamson (5-1) (26-25) 58.90

Heat 09: Starke, Vissing, Allen, Roynon (4-2) (30-27) 57.72

Heat 10: Grajczonek, Jensen, Wilson-Dean, Hansen (4-2) (34-29) 58.12

Heat 11: (Re-Run) Tungate, Wells, Wajtknecht, Roynon (Fell/Excluded) (4-2) (38-31) 58.31

Heat 12: Hansen, Wright, Allen, Roynon (3-3) (41-34) 58.06

Heat 13: Tungate, Grajczonek, Wells, Vissing (5-1) (46-35) 58.62

Heat 14: Starke, Jensen, Allen, Williamson (4-2) (50-37) 59.13

Heat 15: Tungate, Grajczonek, Wells, Hansen (5-1) (55-38) 55-38

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