Somerset Rebels race to success over Redcar Rebels
PUBLISHED: 09:21 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:21 28 June 2019
There's an old saying; 'A week is a long time in politics', and that is probably also true in Speedway, writes Dave Thompson.
A week after suffering their first home defeat this season, the 'Cases' Somerset Rebels have added another item to their trophy cabinet, namely the SGB Championship 'Fours' title, which they carried off at Peterborough on Sunday.
That week has brought us back to the Oaktree Arena, this time to face the Rebels nemesis in this season's SGB Championship KO Cup competition, the Redcar Bears.
With the Rebels at full strength, the Bears were forced into using Rider Replacement for the injured Tom Bacon, who suffered his injury, early in the same meeting that saw the Rebels capture the 'Fours'.
Included in the Bears sextet, was none other than the ever-popular former Rebel, Charles Wright, who now occupies the Bears Number One spot.
Over the first four heats, the Rebels quickly built a six-point lead, with all four winners coming from the home side. Rory Schlein got the ball rolling but only after the race was restarted, after Todd Kurtz was adjudged to have hit the tapes in the first running, and was subsequently pushed back on a 15 metre handicap, although it did look as though Nathan Greaves, in for Tom Bacon, also got a piece of the tapes at the start.
In the re-run, Schlein led before the bend, with Greaves and Charles Wright in his wheel tracks. Wright took up the chase down the back straight, closing down Schlein over the next two laps and by the penultimate circuit he was on the back wheel of his Somerset counterpart.
However, try as he might, he couldn't work an opening to grab the lead from the Australian, who took the flag in front. With Kurtz not able to get fully on terms with greaves, the points were shared.
A flying start by both Anders Rowe and Henry Atkins in Heat 2 saw the home riders hold a winning position from the off. The pair raced side-by-side for the first lap until Rowe pulled out a slight gap. The Rebels went on to post a maximum advantage, as Atkins was never in danger of losing his second spot against the ineffective combination of Nathan Greaves and Jack Smith.
Heat 3 was shared when Nico Covatti produced a stupendous ride to completely destroy a Redcar 'Full House'. Ulrich Østergaard and Jordan Stewart were quickly into their stride, powering to the first turn on a 5-1. Covatti closed in on the pair and picked off Stewart with a neat inside move into the second turn of lap two. A lap later, he had also run down Østergaard and repeated the move on the very same bend, before going on the take a comfortable win, much to the delight of the home crowd. Valentin Grobauer got a horrible lift at the start, and although he got in a challenging position late in the race, he had left himself too much to do to seriously trouble Stewart. Considering the Bears riders had broken on a maximum advantage and it took a lap for Stewart to be overhauled by Covatti, the crowd were surprised to hear, after the race was completed, that Stewart had been warned for moving at the start.
Watching Heat 4, you would have been forgiven for thinking you were witnessing a Cavalry charge, with the whole field arriving at the first turn four abreast. Chris Harris and Henry Atkins appeared in front coming off the second bend, only to see Michael Palm Toft sweep by Atkins down the back straight to grab second place. From that point on, the race was set, with Palm Toft chasing Harris and Atkins chasing Palm Toft until the flag fall gave the Rebels a 4-2 heat advantage.
Ulrich Østergaard took the replacement ride in Heat 5 and in the early stages, along with Charles Wright, looked to have given the visitors a maximum heat win, until Nico Covatti intervened. On the third turn, Covatti carved between the Bears pairing, immediately accounting for Østergaard but somewhat unluckily he couldn't force his way past Wright. He set his sights on Wright but the former Rebels proved just too good for him. In the meantime, Valentin Grobauer, who was again slowly away, soon got himself in the groove and by the start of the second lap, he had taken to the wide line and swept by Østergaard as they entered the back straight, giving the home side a share of the points.
Michael Palm Toft showed the better pace to the turn, to lead the next heat from Rory Schlein and Todd Kurtz. Schlein took up the chase on Palm Toft but the Danish rider had a good lead in hand and looked to have pocketed the race early in the piece. Meanwhile, Nathan Greaves was trying to run down Kurtz, only to have his progress halted when his machine appeared to drop a chain and deposit Greaves in a heap, between the final two turns of Lap 3. Fortunately, he was soon up on his feet, none the worse for his unscheduled trip to the shale. With Palm Toft well in front, the race was awarded with shared points.
Chris Harris easily took Heat 7, with a rapid exit from the tapes. At the turn, he led from Ulrich Østergaard and Jordan Stewart. Anders Rowe was last away but soon got into his stride and came up behind Stewart, pressing the young Victorian all the way. Harris was gone for all money at the front, with Østergaard in a forlorn chase. Rowe continued to press Stewart but could never find the opening he was looking for to advance him to a points scoring position.
The Rebels suffered a setback in Heat 8, when the Bears introduced Jordan Stewart as the replacement rider, alongside Jack Smith. Smith belied his earlier rides when he flew from the gate to accompany his partner to the head of affairs. Todd Kurtz had made a poor gate but by the back straight he was flying down the outside line, passing both Henry Atkins and then Smith to just grab second place. Unfortunately for the home side, Smith wasn't ready to give up his second place spot. He hit back at Kurtz and the pair then proceeded to exchange places several times over the ensuing laps, until Smith finally got the upper hand in the very late stages of the race, giving the Bears an unexpected maximum advantage, which resulted in them cutting the Rebels lead to just two points.
Michael Palm Toft got the better start in Heat 9, with Nico Covatti and Nathan Greaves contesting second place to the turn. Greaves cut inside and just headed Covatti onto the back straight. Covatti immediately threw his machine out to the wide line and wound up the power. Over the next lap and a half, he had his machine flying and carved by Greaves as they closed out the second lap. Valentin Grobauer was last into his stride but he too was soon running down Greaves, again on the wide line and as they came off the final bend of the third lap he was through to share the points.
Heat 10 saw Jordan Stewart, Rory Schlein and Todd Kurtz go to the turn three abreast. It was Stewart who emerged in the van as they hit the turn. Kurtz was first to throw in a challenge as they headed into the third curve but to no avail, as he was held off by his fellow countryman. Schlein moved into second and headed for the outside line, gradually hauling in Stewart over the next two laps, hitting the front as they crossed the line to start the final lap. Kurtz then came with a big run around the final turns of the lap, closing on Stewart with every turn of his wheels, flashing over the line side-by-side. Many in the stadium thought that Stewart had just held on and a huge cheer went up as the referee gave the second place to Kurtz, the resulting maximum advantage restoring the Rebels 6-point lead.
Charles Wright hit the front early in the next heat, with Chris Harris and Anders Rowe filling the places. As the field entered the third turn, Jack Smith arrived on the scene at a 'million miles an hour' appearing to want to pass the whole field in one go. Hitting the turn at such a high speed he soon found himself lacking in room to complete the turn and careered into the air fence. It was a nasty looking fall but thankfully Smith regained his feet almost immediately he was reached by the track and medical staff, walking back to the pits under his own steam, thankfully only suffering the indignity of being excluded. In the re-run the race started in a similar fashion to the first running, with Wright taking an early lead he was never to lose.
Heat 12 turned into something resembling a French Farce and that was before a wheel was even turned. With the two minutes well underway and with very little time left before it ran out, Redcar declared Charles Wright as a tactical substitute. As Wright had not appeared on track when the time limit ran out, Ronnie Allan excluded Wright under the two-minute rule. With a new two minutes already running, Wright then appeared on track and went to the 15-metre handicap line, only to be pulled off the track and the Bears, eventually after some confusion, declared Jack Smith as a replacement instead. Smith then also exceeded the two minutes and was promptly excluded by the referee. When the race finally got underway, Ulrich Østergaard hit the front after both Valentin Grobauer and Henry Atkins missed the gate. From that point on it was virtually race over, as Østergaard won untroubled.
Charles Wright made up for his frustration over the exclusion in the previous heat, as he flew from the traps in Heat 13, with Chris Harris giving chase. Despite his efforts, Harris couldn't make up the gap and Wright went on to take a relatively comfortable win. Behind the pair, Rory Schlein and Michael Palm Toft were engaged in an engrossing battle, with Schlein doing enough to hold off the Bears man.
As the tapes rose in Heat 14, Jordan Stewart caught a huge lift off the line, leaving him vulnerable to the home riders either side of him and they took full advantage as Nico Covatti flew off the start line to lead up with Anders Rowe in his tyre tracks after passing Jack Smith in the opening turns. Smith came back at Rowe on the third turn but the Dorset born Rebel had his measure. Stewart eventually moved to third place but was never going to catch Rowe for second place.
The nominated heat provided a superb race, with Nico Covatti leading into the turn from Charles Wright and Michael Palm Toft. Rory Schlein was last into his stride and immediately headed to the outside on the now extremely slick track. Wright dropped in behind Covatti and set about him, riding on his back wheel and pressing hard over the whole race. At the back, as Covatti held off the charging Wright at the front of the race, Schlein looked to be going nowhere and as they headed into the final half a lap, he still had a huge amount of ground to make up if he wanted a scoring place. From nowhere at all, Schlein conjured up a huge amount of drive, closing rapidly on Palm Toft in front of him. Halfway around the final turns of the race, he made a superb cutback to the inside, shooting hard up the inside of the Bears number five. He came with such speed that his momentum carried him to the line almost upside Wright in second place. Had the finish line been a few yards further on, he would probably have given the Rebels a closing 'Full House' to add to their 51-39 victory.
Charles Wright had a terrific might for the visitors, and his exclusion apart, he dropped only two points to an opponent all night as he posted 13-points from his rides. He was ably supported by Michael Palm Toft, especially early on, with a creditable 8-point total, whilst Jordan Stewart (7+1) and Ulrich Østergaard (7-points) posted useful contributions.
For the 'Cases' Somerset Rebels, Nico Covatti was the star of the show and like Wright, he too only dropped two points to an opponent for his 13-point return. It was a performance that deservedly won Covatti the Somerset 'Rider of the Night' award, chosen by the meeting sponsors and long-time club sponsors TQ exel. Chris Harris on 10+1 and Rory Schlein with 10-points gave good support, as well as the reserves, Henry Atkins and Anders Rowe, who posted a paid 14-point total between them.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, Nico Covatti suffered an injury and a trip to the hospital, whilst racing for his Premiership side, the Poole Pirates, on Thursday evening (June 27). It is an injury that could see him on the side lines for some weeks to come.
All at 'Cases' Somerset Rebels wish Nico Covatti well and a speedy recovery, along with his teammate and former Rebel, Richie Worrall, who was also taken to hospital, after being injured in the same incident.
Somerset Rebels 51
1. Rory Schlein - 3, 2, 3, 1*, 1 = 10+1
2. Todd Kurtz - 0, 1*, 1, 2 = 4+1
3. Valentin Grobauer - 0, 1*, 1*, 2 = 4+2
4. Nico Covatti - 3, 2, 2, 3, 3 = 13
5. Chris Harris - 3, 3, 2, 2 = 10
6. Anders Rowe - 3, 0, 1*, 2* = 6+2
7. Henry Atkins - 2*, 1, 0, 1* = 4+2
Redcar Bears - 39
1. Charles Wright - 2, 3, 3, X, 3, 2 = 13
2. Tom Bacon - Rider Replacement
3. Ulrich Ostergaard - 2, 0, 2, 0, 3 = 7
4. Jordan Stewart - 1*, 1*, 3, 1, 1 = 7+1
5. Michael Palm Toft - 2, 3, 3, 0, 0 = 8
6. Nathan Greaves - 1*, 1, FX, 0 = 2+1
7. Jack Smith - 0, 0, 2*, FX, X, 0 = 2+1
SCB Referee: Ronnie Allan
Heat 01: (Re-Run) Schlein, Wright, Greaves, Kurtz. (3-3) (3-3) 58.50
Heat 02: Rowe, Atkins, Greaves, Smith. (5-1) (8-4) 58.60
Heat 03: Covatti, Ostergaard, Stewart, Grobauer. (3-3) (11-7) 59.07
Heat 04: Harris, Palm Toft, Atkins, Smith. (4-2) (15-9) 59.07
Heat 05: Wright, Covatti, Grobauer, Ostergaard. (3-3) (18-12) 58.75
Heat 06: Palm Toft, Schlein, Kurtz, Greaves (Fell, Excluded). (3-3) (21-15) Awarded
Heat 07: Harris, Ostergaard, Stewart, Rowe. (3-3) (24-18) 59.56
Heat 08: Stewart, Smith, Kurtz, Atkins. (1-5) (25-23) 59.99
Heat 09: Palm Toft, Covatti, Grobauer, Greaves. (3-3) (28-26) 59.13
Heat 10: Schlein, Kurtz, Stewart, Ostergaard. (5-1) (33-27) 59.81
Heat 11: (Re-Run) Wright, Harris, Rowe, Smith (Fell, Excluded). (3-3) (36-30) 59.62
Heat 12: Ostergaard, Grobauer, Atkins, Smith (Excluded). (3-3) (39-33) 59.45
Heat 13: Wright, Harris, Schlein, Palm Toft. (3-3) (42-36) 60.16
Heat 14: Covatti, Rowe, Stewart, Smith. (5-1) (47-37) 59.72
Heat 15: Covatti, Wright, Schlein, Palm Toft. (4-2) (51-39) 59.97