Somerset Rebels race to thrilling win over Kings Lynn Stars

Action from the Somerset Rebels meeting with Kings Lynn Stars. Picture COLIN BURNETT

Action from the Somerset Rebels meeting with Kings Lynn Stars. Picture COLIN BURNETT - Credit: Archant

Just under a month ago, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels inflicted the first home defeat on the Kings Lynn Stars, when they visited the Norfolk Arena on May 30, writes Dave Thompson.

Action from the Somerset Rebels meeting with Kings Lynn Stars. Picture COLIN BURNETT

Action from the Somerset Rebels meeting with Kings Lynn Stars. Picture COLIN BURNETT - Credit: Archant

In the intervening period, the Stars have recovered to somewhere near full-strength, with the return of Niels Kristian Iversen to the team, following injury.

They were without Kasper Andersen, whose absence was cover by guest, Max Clegg. The Rebels fielded the same septet as in their previous meeting, when they defeated, local rivals Poole.

General opinion around the speedway public was that this would be a tough match for the home side, and so it proved, and the opening heat did nothing to disprove those theories. As in last week’s first race, Bradley Wilson-Dean bolted from the traps to lead up his more illustrious teammate, and opponent. He was followed away by fellow second string, Lewis Kerr. However, whilst Wilson-Dean continued to lead, Kerr was soon eclipsed by Niels Kristian Iversen. Iversen gradually closed Wilson-Dean, and by the third lap, he was running wide, out in the dirt, before cutting back off the second bend, to slip under the tenacious Kiwi onto the back straight, grabbing the lead. Jason Doyle, who had been slowly away, took third place later in the same lap to share the points.

The Rebels appeared to dispel the thoughts of a ‘tough match’, as they opened up a four-point lead over the next two laps. Jake Allen made a superb start to Heat 2, to make every yard of the race a winning one. Meanwhile, a slow start from Nico Covatti saw him on the chase. By the end of the opening lap, he had dispatched Max Clegg, and was soon in the wheel tracks of Michael Palm Toft, throwing in his challenge at the penultimate turn of the next lap. However, the Dane covered the move and Covatti ultimately couldn’t find a way through and had to make do with third place.

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Allen was quickly back on the track when Claus Vissing destroyed the tapes at the start of the next heat. In the restart, Ty Procter was the first to show in the re-start, leading into the turn, with Richard Lawson closing down fast. On the back straight, Lawson closed further, before making a neat inside pass on Procter as the entered the third bend. Jake Allen couldn’t replicate his earlier start and was last from the tapes. What he lacked at the tapes, he made up for over the first three-quarters of the lap, as he performed his trademark cut back to dive under Thomas Jørgensen to go third. Try as he might, he couldn’t get to Procter but did close a lot of the distance, which had separated them on the final lap.

The small run of points were halted in Heat 4, when Jack Holder found a patch of grip off the second turn, causing him a huge lift, which he couldn’t get back under control, resulting in him taking an extremely hard fall out of the back door, with his machine bouncing around his ears. The progress of both was halted by a hard slam into the back straight fence and Holder was duly excluded for his pains. As the red lights came on, Michael Palm Toft clipped the back wheel of the slowing leader, Nico Covatti, causing him an equally spectacular & horrendous looking fall.

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In the re-start, Covatti once more roared from the tapes to lead up, pursued by both Kings Lynn riders. However, he needn’t have worried about the presence of Robert Lambert behind him. In truth, despite a hard chase, Lambert never got close enough to make a meaningful challenge, as the Italian - Argentinian, roared around the widest of lines to share the points.

In the very next heat, the visitors wiped out the Rebels lead. It was a case of tapes up and Niels Kristian Iversen and Lewis Kerr disappear into the mist, with only Richard Lawson providing any semblance of resistance, with the Stars bringing to scoreline to 15-15.

Jason Doyle and Bradley Wilson-Dean restored a small lead in Heat 6, with Doyle just getting the better run around the opening curve to see off the early challenge of Robert Lambert. Any chance Lambert had of getting back on terms with the World Champion, evaporated when he took a big lift on the final turn of the lap. His error put him back into the clutches of Wilson-Dean, who closed him down over the next lap, before pitching in a serious challenge on bend three of lap two. Lambert managed to hold on to his second spot but Wilson-Dean never gave up, as he harried and pressed to the flag.

For the next three heats, no one could make any headway, as all three contests were shared. Ty Procter and Jack Holder battled for early supremacy in Heat 7, with Procter edging ahead as they entered the back straight. Holder was never far away, shooting up the inner of the same turn a lap later, to steal away the lead. Behind the first two, Jake Allen and Thomas Jørgensen swapped places for a couple of laps, until the Stars man just prevailed, to ensure a shared heat.

Michael Palm Toft flashed from the traps to lead up Heat 8, whilst Bradley Wilson-Dean was last away. From Wilson-Dean’s point of view that didn’t last long, as he powered from last to second place, first passing Lewis Kerr and then teammate Nico Covatti by the end of the lap. As good as his run was, Wilson-Dean could not catch Palm Toft, who was now in the wind. Covatti easily held third, to share the points.

Robert Lambert took an all the way win in Heat 9, with Claus Vissing, running right up against the fence, passing his partner, Richard Lawson for the second spot, before losing his place back to Lawson a lap later. He was then all out to retain third place from Max Clegg.

The deadlock was broken in Heat 10, with a ‘Full House’ return from the Rebels. Bradley Wilson-Dean jetted from the tapes to power to the front early. He was chased by Thomas Jørgensen, with Jason Doyle in third. Wilson-Dean, looking for his partner all the way, immediately slowed at the front, holding up Jørgensen, allowing Doyle to produce a big outside run along the back straight, to join him at the front. The pair then team rode the Stars duo out of contention, with Doyle wide, and Wilson-Dean on the inner. As the pair came off the final turn, with Doyle leading, the Rebels skipper knocked off the throttle, allowing Wilson-Dean to be rewarded for his sterling effort and take the win.

In recent weeks this is the section of the meeting where the Rebels have come on strong to tie up the match, however, tonight was different. It was the Stars who made their bid for the win, no doubt with the May 30th result in the back of their minds. They put the Rebels under the most extreme pressure, hammering home two maximum advantage on the spin, to pull out a four-point lead, 37-41, with just two heats to go.

Heat 11 saw Dale Allitt bring new British Champion, Robert Lambert into the heat, as a tactical substitute, to bring about the desired result. Jack Holder lifted at the start and it was enough to allow Niels Kristian Iversen and Lambert a free run to the turn. Once in the van, the pair never allowed Holder a sniff of the lead.

Another Allitt switch, in Heat 12, with Michael Palm Toft in for the scoreless Max Clegg, rewarded the Stars Team Manager with a second successive ‘Full House’. Ty Procter blazed off the line from Gate 4, chopping across the whole field to lead at the turn, and clamping Claus Vissing to the kerb. Vissing then ran wide at the next bend, which gave Palm Toft a free run up the inner, into second place. Nico Covatti followed him through but couldn’t make any impression after his slow start, and the Stars pair ran home for all the points.

Things didn’t get any better in Heat 13, in which the Rebels appeared to have stopped the rot in the early stages. Niels Kristian Iversen and Jason Doyle battled for the lead in the run to the opening bend. At the turn, Iversen just edged out Doyle, who then ran wide for the dirt but couldn’t find any grip and dropped back to the rear. Jack Holder gave chase, but Iversen was in fine form, having not dropped a point so far, and the young Rebel couldn’t get on terms with the flying Dane. Doyle’s machine looked really slow, dropping further behind with every turn of the wheels until he retired at the end of the third lap. With just two races to go, with a lead of four points, the visitors looked nailed on to take the win, as long as they didn’t allow the Rebels to take a 5-1 and another heat advantage in the last two encounters. Enter that man Nico Covatti!

The tapes rose on Heat 14, Thomas Jørgensen and Nico Covatti fought out the run to the opening bend. Covatti ran for the dirt, storming to the front out by the fence as they hit the back straight. Jørgensen wasn’t done, and as they entered the home straight at the end of the lap, he charged under Covatti, before running wide and chopping off Covatti’s run. The move produced the lead for Jørgensen but it endured only for a fraction of a second. Richard Lawson, following closely behind the pair, saw the opportunity to take advantage of Jørgensen’s hard move, slipping through the inner, to bag both second and first place in one swift move. For his part, Covatti started to apply the pressure to Jørgensen, pressing hard until the Stars man made a mistake, lifting at the end of the back straight on the third lap. Covatti immediately pounced, cutting back hard under Jørgensen, completing the pass on the final turn of the lap, to the resounding cheers of the home fans. Michael Palm Toft got no further than the second lap, retiring when a long way behind.

The Rebels were still in danger of losing their unbeaten home record for the season, needing a shared heat to draw, or an advantage to snatch what was now looking an unlikely victory, but one if it came, would come courtesy of Covatti’s heroics in the previous heat.

There were no surprises in the quartet that contested the nominated heat, with Jason Doyle, on a new bike, and Jack Holder taking the track for the Rebels, whilst Niels Kristian Iversen and Robert Lambert came to the tapes for the visitors. Before the meeting, Iversen already held a little bit of history at the Oaktree Arena, being the only visiting rider to ever have scored two maximums against the Rebels at home and he was about to rewrite that particular statistic.

Jason Doyle was eager to get a good start, and took a little bite at the start, stopping his momentum just as the tapes rose. He didn’t lose much ground but it was enough to give Iversen the lead at the bend. Jack Holder followed the pair, blocking out Lambert in the process. Doyle got a great run over the opening lap and as they hit the second turn he was up the inner of Iversen but not enough to prevent his counterpart from slamming the door shut. Undeterred, Doyle continued to press, as once again he got a good run. This time it was off the final turn of lap two and once again, just as it looked as though he may grab the lead the Rebels needed for the win, Iversen firmly slammed the door shut in his face. That was the way the race ran out to the flag, a shared heat, which saved the Rebels unbeaten home run and gave Kings Lynn two away points, drawing the meeting 45-45.

The Stars management and fans must have been pretty pleased to see their top man back in such magnificent form, following his recent recovery from injury, as he now became the only visiting rider to post three maximums at the Oaktree Arena. Along with Robert Lambert (10+1), Iversen (15pts), provided over half the points scored by the Stars, with only Michael Palm Toft, and to a lesser extent, Ty Procter providing the back up.

For the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels, the star of the show was Nico Covatti. Not only did he top score, with 9+1, he also provided, in combination with Richard Lawson (9pts), the Rebels with a lifeline, with his outstanding ride in Heat 14. Bradley Wilson-Dean (7+1) also played an important role from the difficult Number two berth, and in the main, it was an all round team performance from the home side, with only Claus Vissing falling to make a significant mark for the second week running. Nico Covatti’s top score and Heat 14 heroics rightly brought him the Somerset ‘Rider of the Night’ award, from meeting sponsor, Graham Mottram.

The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels now take to the road, when they visit the home of the Poole Pirates, Wimborne Road, tonight (Wednesday), for the second leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup quarter-final.

Meeting statistics

Somerset Rebels - 45

1. Jason Doyle - 1*, 3, 2*, R, 2 = 8+2

2. Bradley Wilson Dean- 2, 1, 1*, 3 = 7+1

3. Claus Vissing- X, 0, 1*, 0 = 1+1

4. Richard Lawson- 3, 1, 2, 3 = 9

5. Jack Holder- FX, 3, 1, 2, 1 = 7

6. Jake Allen- 3, 1, 0, 0 = 4

7. Nico Covatti- 1, 3, 2, 1, 2* = 9+1

King’s Lynn Stars - 45

1. Niels Kristian Iversen- 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 15

2. Lewis Kerr- 0, 2*, 0 = 2+1

3. Ty Proctor- 2, 2, 0, 3 = 7

4. Thomas Jorgensen- 0, 1*, 1, 1 = 3+1

5. Robert Lambert - 2, 2, 3, 2*, 1, 0 = 10+1

6. Max Clegg (G) - 0, 0, 0 = 0

7. Michael Palm Toft- 2, 1*, 3, 2*, R = 8+2

SCB Referee: Darren Hartley

Heat Results

Heat 01: Iversen, Wilson-Dean, Doyle, Kerr (3-3) (3-3)

Heat 02: Allen, Palm Toft, Covatti, Clegg (4-2) (7-5)

Heat 03: Lawson, Proctor, Allen (For Vissing, Tapes – Exl), Jorgensen (4-2) (11-7)

Heat 04: Covatti, Lambert, Palm Toft, Holder (Fell – Exl) (3-3) (14-10)

Heat 05: Iversen, Kerr, Lawson, Vissing (1-5) (15-15)

Heat 06: Doyle, Lambert, Wilson-Dean, Clegg (4-2) (19-17)

Heat 07: Holder, Proctor, Jorgensen, Allen (3-3) (22-20)

Heat 08: Palm Toft, Covatti, Wilson-Dean, Kerr (3-3) (25-23)

Heat 09: Lambert, Lawson, Vissing, Clegg (3-3) (28-26)

Heat 10: Wilson-Dean, Doyle, Jorgensen, Proctor (5-1) (33-27)

Heat 11: Iversen, Lambert (Tactical Substitute), Holder, Allen (1-5) (34-32)

Heat 12: Proctor, Palm Toft, Covatti, Vissing (1-5) (35-37)

Heat 13: Iversen, Holder, Lambert, Doyle (Ret) (2-4) (37-41)

Heat 14: Lawson, Covatti, Jorgensen, Palm Toft (Ret) (5-1) (42-42)

Heat 15: Iversen, Doyle, Holder, Lambert (3-3) (45-45)

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