Somerset Rebels race to big victory over Leicester Lions
- Credit: Archant
Following last week’s disappointing defeat at the hands of Kings Lynn, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels came roaring back to maul the Leicester Lions in emphatic fashion, in what many saw as a very close call prior to tapes up, writes Dave Thompson.
Both side had missing riders, the Rebels covered Michael Palm Toft and Lewis Kerr with guest in the shapes of Kyle Howarth and Adam Ellis respectively, whilst the visitors put up Todd Kurtz in place of Erik Riss, all three riders being claimed by their respective Championship Clubs. In addition Leicester used Rider Replacement for late withdrawal, Jason Garrity, with new Lions signing, and former Rebel, Kyle Newman made his debut in this fixture.
Richard Lawson, making his first appearance as the Rebels ‘Number One’, and Cameron Heeps, newly promoted to the main body of the team, blazed from the traps in Heat 1. Heeps took up the running inside of the opening turn, before Lasse Bjerre, hurtled inside Lawson down the back straight. Lawson fought back, snapping at Bjerre’s back wheel the whole way, but the Dane rode superbly to shut him out. Meanwhile Heeps poured on the coals at the front, to win with some in hand. Kim Nilsson was never really in the hunt.
That heat advantage was quickly followed by the Rebels first, maximum of the evening, which proved to be one of eight ‘Full House’s’ posted by the Rebels, but not before the original start was pulled back when Todd Kurtz jumped the gun, catching the peak of his helmet in the tapes. Duly warned he returned to the tapes without further penalty. In the restart, Adam Ellis fired from the line alongside Kyle Newman, with Ellis getting the upper hand on the wide line out of the second corner. Jake Allen gave chase to Newman, but it wasn’t until the final lap that he took his chance, sweeping up Newman’s inner as they negotiated the first bend for the final time. A lift in the opening turn ended Todd Kurtz interest in the race as the Rebels plundered the points.
Kyle Newman was rapidly out on track again, taking the Replacement ride in Heat 3, but he fared no better than his previous race, despite charging to the front through the first turn. He may have headed affairs, but by the third turn he was last, as both Rebels, Charles Wright and Kyle Howarth, powered by, one on either side to take up the running. The opening of the second lap saw a brief threat from Newman, but once he was held off, that was that. Josh Bates took up the chase, passing his team mate on the second lap, putting in a big charge off the final bend of the race, although this failed to yield any reward, as the home side added a second consecutive maximum to the tally, with Wright taking his first win of the evening.
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Heat 4 saw even more tapes woe for Todd Kurtz, this time demolishing them completely before they’d even twitched, and being put off the 15 metre handicap for his pains. With Kurtz back off the handicap mark, the remaining three riders contested a very level run to the turn, with Josh Grajczonek capturing the lead on the outside. Adam Ellis followed his captain through after cleverly moving Danny King wide as they approached the second turn. His tenure in second place didn’t last long though, as King came steaming back through on the second lap. The pair then proceeded to swap place a couple of time before King got the better of Ellis, speeding down the back straight on the final lap of the race. That 4-2 heat advantage put the Rebels in s strong 12-point lead after just four heats, and had Jim Lynch reaching for the ‘Black and White’ straight away.
Kim Nilsson was the man given the responsibility to try to wrest some points back in the Lions’ favour, but it didn’t work out haw Jim would have planned or hoped. It started poorly for the Lions, and only ever got slightly better. The Rebels duo of Charles Wright and Kyle Howarth shot from the tapes, with Wright heading affairs on the outside of the second turn. Lasse Bjerre powered by Howarth on the back straight of the next lap, setting off after the fast disappearing Wright at the front. Nilsson made a similar move a lap later, before closing down his team mate. As they ran to the flag, many expected to see Bjerre yield the place at this point, but he kept his head down and left Nilsson to double up only the single point for third place. There was some conjecture as to whether Bjerre may have realised that Howarth was too close to Nilsson, and may have passed Bjerre had the latter slowed, a point which Jim Lynch later defended him on, and equally some felt that he had failed to be aware of his partner’s position. Whatever your point of view, he didn’t appear to look at any point where Nilsson was, as the Lions took a slight heat advantage, 3-4.
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The Lions got a little respite in the next heat, Heat 6, in which the points were shared, but once again it was the Rebels who provided the winner. Richard Lawson took up the early running, after contesting to the turn with Danny King. Cameron Heeps was in close attendance, but both he and King were eclipsed by a wide running Kyle Newman down the back straight. Newman briefly challenged Lawson on the next bend, but was seen off by the flying Cumbrian. Once Lawson had dealt with that threat, it was plain sailing all the way to the flag, with both Lions filling the places.
Heats 7 and 8 had the Rebels back on the maximum trail, as they posted the Full Monty in both affairs. Josh Grajczonek and Jake Allen hit the front from the off, with Todd Kurtz harrying Allen over the first two laps. Allen answered the call, and Kurtz was beaten off, before hitting the front as his captain let him through and shadowed him home to the flag.
Kyle Newman looked to have given the Lions their first heat winner of the night in Heat 8, but it wasn’t to be, as first Adam Ellis and then Cameron Heeps surpassed him. If anyone thought that the Rebels were just going to blow through, they were sadly mistaken, for what ensued was a fine race, with all four riders in close quarter combat, until the home side finally got a grip on the points.
Heat 9 brought the flying Charles Wright back to the track, and he didn’t disappoint. He bolted from the traps to lead up with Danny King for company, before blowing the Lions man away, with the widest of outside runs in the opening turns. Kyle Howarth came next, and almost completed a neat cut back on the second lap, but King just had too much for him. With Wright off with the pigeons, there was nothing King could do, but sit back and watch a man clearly enjoying his nights work. Howarth kept up the chase, but after that initial challenge, could never worry King again.
Heat 10 looked like a massive reverse for the Rebels, as Danny King, taking the replacement ride, and Josh Bates blazed from the traps to lead up on a maximum advantage. Richard Lawson came next, and looked intent on spoiling the party as he grabbed the lead onto the back straight. King came back at him, pushing hard, and challenging up his inner. On the next turn it all got very tight, and Lawson bit the dust, with the red lights coming on almost immediately. From certain viewpoints around the track, it appeared that Lawson may have fallen of his own accord, but the referee, Dave Robinson, quickly excluded King, as the cause of the stoppage. In the restart it was plain sailing for the Rebels, with Lawson and Cameron Heeps outrunning Josh Bates to the bend, from there on it was race over.
In Heat 11, the reverse did happen, courtesy of some tardy gating by the Rebels pairing of Josh Grajczonek and Jake Allen. It was the only invitation Kim Nilsson and Lasse Bjerre needed, and they were away and gone. Grajczonek chased down Bjerre, with Allen also not far away, but try as they might they couldn’t stop the Lions taking their one and only maximum of the night.
In truth the Rebels had sealed the win at Heat 10, baring a mathematical miracle, and it was now just a question of how long before they would be in a position to prevent the Lions from taking a league point. The answer to that came in the very next heat, when they embarked on a run of three back-to-back maximum scores.
Charles Wright rocketed from the tapes in Heat 12 to lead up unchallenged to the turn. Lasse Bjerre came out of the pack to throw in his effort on the second lap, keeping Wright under pressure all the way. Bjerre’s efforts may not have had full effect, as he was also getting heat from behind, in the form of Adam Ellis. Ellis’s pressure bore fruit, when he found some drive to come under Bjerre as they hit the third lap opening turns. Wright’s win gave him a 12-point four ride full maximum, a superb result considering his recent spell on the side lines.
A fast start from Richard Lawson got him out of trouble in Heat 13, as he contested a tight run to the turn. His speed brought him to the fore, when it looked like he may be the ‘meat in the sandwich’. Josh Grajczonek was never far away, and came barrelling around the outside to join Lawson at the front. Kim Nilsson ensured that Grajczonek went the long way round, pressing up the inner, but once the Rebels skipper had the run on him; it was game over, as Heat 13 went the way of the previous one.
Jake Allen flashed from the gate to make Heat 14 his own, with partner, Kyle Howarth providing his back up as he kept pace with Allen in the early stages. Todd Kurtz was not far away, and kept Howarth honest, but for all that, he could never trouble the young Lancastrian who shadowed his partner home.
The Final race of the night provided the Lions with only their second heat winner of the meeting. Kyle Howarth was jet propelled from the gate, leading up with some ease, from Kim Nilsson and Richard Lawson, with Lasse Bjerre stone last. With Howarth seemingly untouchable at the front, Bjerre came out of the clouds to first pass Nilsson and Lawson, before finding some extra drive, to close down Howarth at top speed, before sailing by and pulling away as though Howarth was stood still. With Nilsson holding Lawson for third, the Lions ended their tough night with a heat advantage.
The final 60-31 score line did reflect the Lions efforts in this meeting, which produced some superb racing, despite the dry conditions. The Lions team manager, Jim Lynch made no excuses for his riders, saying later, “We were beaten by a much better team”, “From beginning to end we were second best in virtually every department and did not adapt to the conditions”. Lasse Bjerre top scored with 10+1, with Kim Nilsson posting 7-points in support. Danny King had a disappointing night, but who knows how much his recent injured still troubles him.
On the Rebels side of the Pits the starring role goes to Charles Wright, with his superb 12-point full maximum, in his first Somerset meeting after returning from injury. Richard Lawson came next with 10-points in his first meeting as Rebels Number One, whilst none of the rest tallied less than 7+2, in a great all round performance. Jake Allen seemed to have cured what ailed him last week and was back amongst the points, taking the ‘Rider of The Night’ award from meeting sponsors, the Grand Pier at Weston-Super-Mare. Both guest provided great back up, as did Cameron Heeps in the main body of the team. All in all Garry May must have been a happy man as he celebrated his upcoming birthday at a surprise party thrown for him after the meeting.
The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels next league action is not until Wednesday 26th July, when they visit Poole, before returning to the Oaktree Arena on 28th July against Wolverhampton. That doesn’t mean there is no speedway action taking place in Highbridge in the meantime. Firstly there is a challenge match on 7th July, where a Rebels Select will take on the Isle of Wight. This is followed up by the now traditional British Speedway Grand Prix Eve event, the SGB Championship Pairs Championship on 21st July.
Somerset Rebels - 61
1. Richard Lawson - 1, 3, 3, 3, 0 = 10
2. Cameron Heeps - 3, 0, 2*, 2* = 7+2
3. Charles Wright - 3, 3, 3, 3 = 12
4. Kyle Howarth (Guest) - 2*, 0, 1, 2*, 2 = 7+2
5. Josh Grajczonek - 3, 2*, 1, 2* = 8+2
6. Jake Allen - 2*, 3, 0, 3 = 8+1
7. Adam Ellis (Guest) - 3, 1, 3, 2* = 9+1
Leicester Lions - 30
1. Kim Nilsson - 0, 2^, 3, 1, 1 = 7
2. Lasse Bjerre - 2, 2, 0, 2*, 1, 3 = 10+1
3. Jason Garrity - Rider Replacement
4. Josh Bates - 1, 0, 1, 0 = 2
5. Danny King - 2, 1*, 2, EX, 0 = 5+1
6. Kyle Newman - 1, 0, 2, 1, 0, 0 = 4
7. Todd Kurtz (Guest) - 0, 0, 1, 1 = 2
SCB Referee: David Robinson
Heat 01: Heeps, Bjerre, Lawson, Nilsson (4-2) 58.28
Heat 02: (Re-Run): Ellis, Allen, Newman, Kurtz (5-1) (9-3) 57.81
Heat 03: Wright, Howarth, Bates, Newman (5-1) (14-4) 58.03
Heat 04: (Re-Run): Grajczonek, King, Ellis, Kurtz (15m) (4-2) (18-6) 58.75
Heat 05: Wright, Bjerre, Nilsson (Tactical), Howarth (3-4) (21-10) 58.38
Heat 07: Allen, Grajczonek, Kurtz, Bates (5-1) (29-14) 58.88
Heat 08: Ellis, Heeps, Newman, Bjerre (5-1) (34-15) 59.00
Heat 09: Weight, King, Howarth, Newman (4-2) (38-17) 58.38
Heat 10: (Re-Run): Lawson, Heeps, Bates, King (Excluded) (5-1) (43-18) 59.50
Heat 11: Nilsson, Bjerre, Grajczonek, Allen (1-5) (44-23) 59.60
Heat 12: Wright, Ellis, Bjerre, Newman (5-1) (49-24) 59.56
Heat 13: Lawson, Grajczonek, Nilsson, King (5-1) (54-25) 59.87
Heat 14: Allen, Howarth, Kurtz, Bates (5-1) (59-26) 60.00
Heat 15: Bjerre, Howarth, Nilsson, Lawson (2-4) (61-30) 58.44