Somerset Rebels race to thrilling win over table-topping Wolverhampton Wolves
- Credit: Archant
After three blank weeks of home meetings, the action returned to the Oaktree Arena home of Somerset Rebels with the visit of table toppers, the Wolverhampton Wolves, writes Dave Thompson.
Since the last home meeting the new averages have been published, bringing about a switch of positions for Jake Allen and Bradley Wilson-Dean, with Allen moving to reserve, and Wilson-Dean going in the opposite direction. Garry May also made another change in the line-up, moving Richard Lawson from the Number 5 position, to switch berths with Jack Holder at Number 4. Regarding the ‘ ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels line-up reshuffle for this meeting, May has brought together, Jason Doyle & Jack Holder for heat 13, a pairing which, picked up valuable league points at King’s Lynn with a last-gasp 5-1, to win the match.
He explained the move saying “We need to get more out of Richard, as I don’t think he has been going as well as he can, and this is something we spoke about. Jack questioned whether he was ready for such a move but the way he has been going this year has been exceptional. I think we tend to forget this is only his second top-flight British season and this experiment will give him extra experience and also help Richard rediscover his form.” The Wolves also had a change of their own, with 2017 Rebel, Cameron Heeps, moving to reserve, whilst Ashly Morris moved to occupy Heeps previous Number 2 position.
Morris made an immediate impact, stunning the home crowd into silence as he led every inch of the way to take Heat 1. His cause was helped with what appeared to be a flyer at the start, and an uneven tape rise, with the inside of the tapes visible moving quicker than the outside. His partner also took advantage, as he was marginally quicker into his stride than Jason Doyle on the wide outside, but it was enough to give the Wolves the advantage, one which they weren’t to lose, despite Doyle’s persistence, as they brought home a full house advantage for the visitors. A short bout of remedial work on the start gate mechanism followed before the next heat.
The original start of Heat 2 was something of a nonsense, with Nathan Greaves raising a hand and pulling back from the line, with the green light on. Despite this, the tapes went up, but there was no major mover from the remaining trio, who just dawdled off the line. Graham Reeve immediately called them back, returning all four participants to the line. The re-start saw Cameron Heeps hit the front from the get-go. Jake Allen and Jonas Jeppesen gave chase but appeared to get in each other’s way, with Jeppesen the loser, dropping back to last place. The young Dane was soon back in the hunt, regaining his third spot after another lap. That was the way it finished, with the points shared.
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The Wolves extended their lead further with a heat advantage in the third race. Kyle Howarth led from the gate, slightly increasing his advantage around the opening turn. Howarth never got too far in front, with Richard Lawson giving chase. In fact, all four riders were in close proximity for all four laps, with Lawson continuing to press Howarth, and Charles Wright harrying Sam Masters for third. It was an exciting affair, despite there being no passing, as they ran without change to the flag. Whilst the tapes seemed to go up much more evenly, they looked to be sagging in the middle. This may have been as a result of the referee requesting that the tapes should have a series of ‘V’s’ cut in them, to reduce the chance of the type of injury recently suffered by Lewis Kerr.
Jake Allen and Jack Holder looked to have pulled back a couple of points as Allen bolted from the tapes to lead up from Rory Schlein, with Holder in third. With Schlein pressing and looking quick, Allen continued to lead, but a lock-up by the Queenslander on the final bend of Lap 2 was enough to give Schlein a better run onto the home straight, which he took advantage of as they hit the opener of the next lap, taking up the running off the second turn, and blocking Allen’s run onto the back straight. As they hit the final two bends, Allen produced a huge outside run, closing down Schlein on the run to the line, but the flag came too soon, with the Wolverhampton man taking the win and a share of the points.
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Following the first track grade, the Rebels swung into action, with Charles Wright and Richard Lawson hitting home a maximum advantage. Wright, Lawson and Jacob Thorssell contested the run to the turn, but it was Wright who made the decisive move, leading on the inside of the trio. He made the best of his way home, whilst Lawson edged in front of Thorssell. The Swede tried every line he could to pass Lawson, but try as he might, the Somerset man was too clever, producing a superb defensive ride to thwart Thorssell and give the home side a much-needed boost, with a 5-1 advantage.
Another share of the points followed in Heat 6, with Rory Schlein narrowly outpacing Jason Doyle into the first bend. Doyle set about closing the gap, but halfway through the race, he lost his steel shoe, seriously hampering his chase. Schlein held the lead to the line, with Doyle and Bradley Wilson-Dean, who easily outpointed Cameron Heeps, taking the minor places.
Heat 7 produced two races in one, as the Rebels drew level with the visitors, with a heat advantage. The first battle was played out between the fast-starting Jack Holder and a charging Sam Masters. Masters pressed and pressured Holder all the way, but Holder’s resolve was strong and his cool head under pressure won the day. Behind the duo, Jonas Jeppesen was exploring all reaches of the track to pull back Kyle Howarth in third place. As they ran into the final turns of the race, Jeppesen produced a stunning outside run, to blaze past the Lancastrian, who in his attempts to frustrate the move, found himself having a closer inspection of the shale than he would have wanted, as he fell on the final bend.
Heat 8 produced the lead for the Rebels for the first time on the night, a lead they weren’t to relinquish again. Jake Allen and Bradley Wilson-Dean got the better of a level break, as they hit the front on the opening bend. Allen took up the running to win untroubled, but Wilson-Dean had to fend off the early attention of Nathan Greaves before taking a comfortable second place from Ashley Morris, who came late on the scene, with too much to do. The Rebels maximum advantage putting them 4-points clear on the night.
Two more ‘Full Houses’ followed for the Rebels, putting them 12-points to the good by Heat 10. The first of these came as Richard Lawson made a rapid exit from the tapes to lead before the turn. In the meantime Charles Wright came from third place, off gate three, to execute a superb inside pass on Rory Schlein out of the second bend. Schlein wasn’t done, and hit back with a wide run down the back straight, reclaiming the second spot by the third bend. If Schlein thought that he’d stopped Wright, he had to think again as the Rebels racer used Schlein’s own wide running tactic, on the very next lap to demote ‘Roo-Boy’ back to third place. Once back in second, he switched back inside and easily held off Schlein in the process.
Bradley Wilson-Dean went from saint to sinner and back to saint again at various times during Heat 10. Firstly his fast start, and superb first turn produced an opening, which Jason Doyle was quick to exploit to take second place. He then turned sinner as he hampered the World Champion as they started the second lap, causing Doyle to drop back, not only to third place but completely to the back of the field, allowing Kyle Howarth and Sam Masters through to the scoring places. Doyle was quickly on Masters’ tail, and in no time at all he had regained a place and was setting off after Howarth. Howarth in his turn was pressing Wilson-Dean and as they approached the final turn he was in close attendance, but the young New Zealander had one more trick up his sleeve, running Howarth wide to allow Doyle through. On the run to the line, Doyle closed on Wilson-Dean, but to the naked eye it appeared that Wilson-Dean had won the race, but the referee gave the win to Doyle.
Wolverhampton stopped the rot in the next heat, taking a 2-4 advantage, but it didn’t work out as they may have wanted, having introduced Rory Schlein for a tactical substitute ride. Jacob Thorssell & Schlein got the better of Jack Holder into the turn, but Holder’s wide run down the back straight saw him claim the lead. Thorssell stayed in close attendance, and slipped back through with a neat inside pass on the second bend of the next lap, with Schlein now almost level with Holder. Holder immediately stuck it out in the dirt, and came with a supercharged run around the fence, powering back into a clear second on the final turns of the third lap. He carried so much speed into the straight, he ran extremely wide, colliding with the home straight fence. It could have been disastrous, but the young Australian just shrugged it off and set about chasing down Thorssell. He came charging off the final bend of the race, but the Swede just had too much in the tank and held on until the line.
Wolverhampton needed to pile in the points to take the win, but with the next two heats tied, the Rebels were virtually certain to win, barring a major disaster.
The first of those shared heats came when Charles Wright made a lightning start, leaving the others floundering off the line. Once in front, he was never troubled. The action was all happening behind Wright, with Jake Allen busting a gut to make up for a slow start. Tearing around the widest of lines, he careered after Cameron Heeps in third, and just as he closed the gap, he pushed too hard and had to perform a miracle to stay connected to his machine, leaving a portion of the crowd shaking their heads in disbelief. Running wide in the final turns put paid to any chance he had of the third place.
Jason Doyle made a superb start in Heat 13, leading before the opener, with Jacob Thorssell giving chase. At the back Rory Schlein and Jack Holder were locked together, racing wheel-to-wheel, until Holder got the big elbow in the first turn of Lap 2. That was the race in a nutshell, leaving the Rebels 10-points to the good, with just two heats to go.
Both Team Managers made a change of reserves in Heat 14, Jake Allen coming in for Jonas Jeppesen, whilst Peter Adams introduced Cameron Heeps to replace Nathan Greaves. In something of an untidy start, it was Sam Masters who prevailed from the tapes, with Richard Lawson and Jake Allen in pursuit. Allen ran wide at the turn, gifting Heeps third place. The race settled with Lawson chasing a fast disappearing Masters, and Allen in vain pursuit of Heeps, giving Wolverhampton a 2-4 advantage, and a shot at an away point.
Garry May chose Jason Doyle and Charles Wright for the nominated heat, with Wolverhampton tracking Jacob Thorssell and Rory Schlein. As the tapes rose Doyle caught a huge lift off the line, and performed a near miracle to get it down and retain third place in the process. Jacob Thorssell had made the best start, with Charles Wright on his wheel. Wright made a wide move out of the second turn, but couldn’t make it stick, and Thorssell was away. With the Rebels chasing Thorssell, Schlein never got in the hunt, as the race ran to shared points, with no consolation away point for the Wolves.
The Rebels had put in a solid performance, after a tardy start, with a good all round performance, topped by Jason Doyle and Charles Wright, who both posted 10+1. Richard Lawson showed signs of getting back to the kind of form, which last year earned him the ‘Rider of the Year’ title, whilst Jake Allen was all action in the reserve berth. Also worthy of a mention, are both Jack Holder and Jonas Jeppesen, who despite being down on recent scoring levels, put in a hard shift, with Holder being awarded the Somerset ‘Rider of the Night’ trophy from meeting sponsors, Carlsberg. Both deserved more points than their final tally.
The visitors faded away after a great start, with Jacob Thorssell (11+1) & Rory Schlein (9+1) being their stand out riders, whilst some of their other leading lights were inconsistent.
The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels have made a habit of slow starts this season, before coming back strongly in the latter part of the meeting, and are still unbeaten at home, but with the upcoming visit of a rejuvenated Poole Pirates, next Wednesday, they will have to be on their mettle to retain their unbeaten home record.
Somerset Rebels - 49
1. Jason Doyle - 1, 2, 3, 3, 1* = 10+1
2. Bradley Wilson-Dean - 0, 1*, 2*, 2* = 5+3
3. Charles Wright - 0, 3, 2*, 3, 2 = 10+1
4. Richard Lawson - 2, 2*, 3, 2 = 9+1
5. Jack Holder – 1*, 3, 2, 0 = 6+1
6. Jonas Jeppesen - 1*, 1, 0 = 2+1
7. Jake Allen - 2, 2, 3, 0, 0 = 7
Wolverhampton Wolves – 41
1. Jacob Thorssell – 2*, 1, 3, 2, 3 = 11+1
2. Ashley Morris - 3, 0, 1 = 3+1
3. Kyle Howarth - 3, F, 1, 2 = 6
4. Sam Masters - 1, 2, 0, 3 = 6
5. Rory Schlein - 3, 3, 1, 1, 1*, 0 = 9+1
6. Cameron Heeps - 3, 0, 0, 1*, 1 = 5+1
7. Nathan Greaves - 0, 0, 0 = 0
SCB Referee: Graham Reeve
Heat 01: Morris, Thorssell, Doyle, Wilson-Dean (1-5) (1-5) 57.93
Heat 02: Heeps, Allen, Jeppesen, Greaves (3-3) (4-8) 58.69
Heat 03: Howarth, Lawson, Masters, Wright (2-4) (6-12) 58.31
Heat 04: Schlein, Allen, Holder, Greaves (3-3) (9-15) 58.92
Heat 05: Wright, Lawson, Thorssell, Morris (5-1) (14-16) 58.38
Heat 06: Schlein, Doyle, Wilson-Dean, Heeps (3-3) (17-19) 57.75
Heat 07: Holder, Masters, Jeppesen, Howarth - (Fell) (4-2) (21-21) 58.00
Heat 08: Allen, Wilson-Dean, Morris, Greaves (5-1) (26-22) 58.94
Heat 09: Lawson, Wright, Schlein, Heeps (5-1) (31-23) 58.23
Heat 10: Doyle, Wilson-Dean, Howarth, Masters (5-1) (36-24) 59.00
Heat 11: Thorssell, Holder, Schlein - (Tac Sub), Jeppesen (2-4) (38-28) 58.56
Heat 12: Wright, Howarth, Heeps, Allen (3-3) (41-31) 58.94
Heat 13: Doyle, Thorssell, Schlein, Holder (3-3) (44-34) 58.50
Heat 14: Masters, Lawson, Heeps, Allen (2-4) (46-38) 58.69
Heat 15: Thorssell, Wright, Doyle, Schlein (3-3) (49-41) 58.44