Somerset Rebels race to victory in the semi-final first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup

PUBLISHED: 12:09 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:09 20 September 2018

Somerset Rebels rider Nico Covatti storms away to win Heat 12 in the first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup semi-final. Picture COLIN BURNETT

Somerset Rebels rider Nico Covatti storms away to win Heat 12 in the first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup semi-final. Picture COLIN BURNETT


In just nineteen short seasons, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels have come from being the newest club in British Speedway, competing in the then Conference League, to the brink of a shot at the league title in the top domestic tier of the sport, writes Dave Thompson.

Somerset Rebels rider Aaron Summers leads Frederik Jakobsen in the first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup semi-final. Picture COLIN BURNETTSomerset Rebels rider Aaron Summers leads Frederik Jakobsen in the first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup semi-final. Picture COLIN BURNETT

Having finished second in the league table, the Rebels were handed a semi-final tie against local rivals and multiple title winners, the Poole Pirates. Garry May had elected to take the home leg of the tie first, before hopefully taking a reasonable lead back to Wimborne Road for the second leg.

Despite the fact that on their last visit to the Oaktree Arena, the Pirates had left on the wrong end of a 51-39 scoreline, they have since hit a rich vein of form to progress into the play offs, and previously out of form riders had started to fire, so the Rebels, although confident, were set for a tough encounter.

The opening four heats did nothing to dispel that confidence, as the home side bagged three heat advantages to the Pirates one. Bradley Wilson-Dean got the ball rolling, with a lightning start to Heat 1, leading before the turn. As he forged ahead, Jason Doyle and Brady Kurtz got tight in the first bend, with Kurtz getting shunted out wide. Doyle set off in chase of second place Kacper Woryna, only to have his run blocked by the Pole. With Wilson-Dean in the wind, the remaining places were set, except for Kurtz closing Doyle in the latter stages.

Richie Worrall was quickly into his stride in the reserves heat, leading up from Jake Allen and Aaron Summers. Allen headed for the dirt, challenging but not passing Worrall in the final turns of the lap. Still out wide, he wound it on down the home straight, before using his accumulated speed to execute a superb cut back in the second bend of lap 2, speeding underneath his opponent to make first place his own. Frederik Jakobsen had closed down Summers and challenged on the back straight of the final lap but Summers knew he was coming and slammed the door in his face as the Rebels took their second heat advantage of the night.

Somerset Rebels star Jason Doyle cuts inside Nicolai Klindt to take Heat 15 in the first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup semi-final. Picture COLIN BURNETTSomerset Rebels star Jason Doyle cuts inside Nicolai Klindt to take Heat 15 in the first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup semi-final. Picture COLIN BURNETT

The Pirates stemmed the flow in Heat 3, as Josh Grajczonek got the better of a level break with Nico Covatti. Grajczonek just got over the top of the Rebels Argentinian flyer, with Richard Lawson in third place. Covatti pressure the Poole captain, making two unsuccessful moves on the fourth bend and again at the opening turns of Lap 2. Nicolai Klindt got the better of Lawson with a hard inside move on the second end of the penultimate lap but the Rebels man came back at him with a big outside run off the final turns of the race and was not far away at the flag.

Jack Holder caught a lift off the start of Heat 4 but he needn’t have worried as his race partner, Aaron Summers, flashed from the gate to lead every inch of the way. Holder dropped in behind Frederik Jakobsen and was close up to his rear wheel, almost running in the back of him. As he tried to negotiate a way by, Chris Harris took the chance to sweep around the outside of both of them coming off the second bend of Lap 3. Holder kept pressing Jakobsen and at the next turn, he was up the inside, only to get his run chopped off by the young Dane. He immediately moved to the wide line, and stormed off the opening turns of the final lap to shoot past Jakobsen down the back straight to restore the Rebels 4-point lead.

Over the next three heats, the Pirates whittled away at the Rebels lead, until they had levelled the scores at the close of Heat 7. Their run commenced with a blazing start to Heat 5 by Kacper Woryna, with Brady Kurtz following him away. Off the second bend, Richard Lawson came with a speedy run down the back straight, carving between the Pirates duo, only to see Kurtz produce an even more powerful run down his outside to fly into the lead. Once the former Rebel was in clear air, he powered away, running right up against the fence for the whole race. Nico Covatti, who had got away on terms with the rest of the field, got stuck for speed on the back straight and never got back into the race as the Pirates took their second advantage of the night.

Heat 6 was shared after Jason Doyle hit the front right from the gate to lead all the way to the flag fall. Bradley Wilson-Dean caught an unfortunate lift off the tapes, which sealed his fate and left him vulnerable to an inside move from Richie Worrall at the second bend. Wilson-Dean worked hard to get back in the hunt for a point and at the run off the second turn of the third lap, he was putting in huge strides out wide, coming fast down Worrall’s outside, only to have the door slammed shut in his face. That was that for the New Zealand Champion and the heat was shared.

The Pirates brought the scores level in Heat 7, as Josh Grajczonek narrowly got the better of a hotly contested run to the opening bend with Jack Holder. Grajczonek was better positioned to take advantage, on the inside line, to pull out a small gap as they hit the back straight. Holder moved out to the dirt line and came with a strong run in the final curves of the lap but could not find the pace to go round Grajczonek. Jake Allen was hunting down Nicolai Klindt and got his nose in front up the inside of bend 2 on the third lap. However, his speed led him to run wide and Klindt cut back underneath him, as they ran to the third turn, to make the match all square.

The two sides remained deadlocked over the next three heats, all of which were shared. The first of these, Heat 8, went to Frederik Jakobsen, who made a rocket start to lead well before the first bend, with Bradley Wilson-Dean and Aaron Summers hot on his tail. Wilson-Dean took the wide line and started to build up his speed lap by lap. On the final lap, he came charging down the back straight and as they entered the third turn, Jakobsen left the smallest of gaps on his inner and quick as a flash Wilson-Dean switched his line and dive bombed hard under the Pirates reserve. The move meant that the Rebels man had to take the wide line out of the final turn and as he tried to turn the bike hard to get the power down, Jakobsen got a sweeter run out of the turn and little by little closed on Wilson-Dean. The pair zoomed over the line locked together. The referee, Mick Bates, gave the win to Jakobsen but many watching replays on the live BT Sport TV feed could split the pair, especially when the freeze frame on the finish line was shown. Summers easily held third place from Kacper Woryna to share the points.

The Pirates also provided the winner of the next heat, when Chris Harris made his first quick start of the night to lead up Richard Lawson and Richie Worrall. As Lawson pressed Harris, Nico Covatti came with a strong outside run to sweep past Worrall, who was hampered as he clipped the back of Lawson’s machine. Lawson took to the fence, running fast and keeping up the pressure on the leader looking for a mistake or opportunity to go by, neither of which materialised as another shared heat was entered into the record.

The visitors looked to have provided their third heat winner on the trot, as Nicolai Klindt bolted from the gate to easily lead out to the turn. The remaining trio contested the run to the opening bends, and for a brief moment, the Pirates had hopes of a maximum advantage as Josh Grajczonek edged into second place entering the back straight. His term in the runner-up spot lasted no longer than it took Jason Doyle to cut back inside Grajczonek and charge after Klindt, Wilson-Dean following him through, but on the outside line, before they reached the third bend. Grajczonek kept on Wilson-Dean’s rear wheel and found his way back to third on lap three, whilst Doyle was piling on the coals around the outside in his pursuit of Klindt. As the Rebels skipper came with a wet sail outside Klindt, the Pirates man moved off the line to protect his outside through the final turns of the race, as he did, Doyle reacted with lightning speed, switching his attack to the inside and steaming up Klindt’s inner to steal away the win on the line.

Heat 11 saw the Pirates lead for the first time on the night. Brady Kurtz was smartly away, contesting the lead with Jack Holder. Kurtz had the better run inside the first bend to lead before the back straight. Jake Allen made a neat inside pass on Kacper Woryna as they completed the lap but Woryna fought back and on the third lap he repaid the compliment. Meanwhile, Holder had been chasing Kurtz for all he was worth but couldn’t get near enough to make a pass, leaving the visitors to take the heat and the lead in the tie.

The Pirates small lead, in keeping with what had gone before, lasted only to the conclusion of the next heat, where Nico Covatti blazed from the tapes to head the race right to the chequered flag. Behind him, the Pirates pairing of Josh Grajczonek and Richie Worrall filled the places, with Aaron Summers giving chase. For a long time, it looked as though Summers, out wide, may have been chasing a lost cause until Worrall suddenly slowed to a halt on the final bend of the second lap, his demise brought about by a puncture. Summers did close on Grajczonek but eventually to no avail.

Brady Kurtz got a flyer in Heat 13 to lead up Jason Doyle from Chris Harris and Jack Holder. As Harris moved wide off bend three, Holder cut back up his inner to grab third place as the ran back to the home straight. At the close of the opening circuit, Doyle had headed straight for the dirt line and was powering after Kurtz in the lead. As Lap 2 came to a close he was almost upsides the Cowra born rider and as they entered the back straight he swept to the front on the run to the next turn. All the time Holder was closing down Kurtz, coming with a big outside run on the final two turns but he found Kurtz with too much in hand on the run to the line. Once again this topsy-turvy meeting saw the Rebels regain the lead.

The tone of the meeting was such that it was virtually inevitable that the meeting would once again end up all square and so it was when the Pirates took Heat 14. Jake Allen and Nicolai Klindt broke together and were neck and neck to the first curve but it was Klindt who just prevailed as they hit the next. Richard Lawson held third place from Frederik Jakobsen. As Allen chased Klindt, Jakobsen was closing down Lawson and three-quarters of the way through the third lap he slipped inside the Worcestershire based rider to grab third. Lawson came back at him with a big run out wide but the young Dane had his measure.

With the scores tied again, Heat 15 took on more importance than any normal meeting, with both sides now looking for any advantage to take into the second leg on the 1st October. Garry May had no hesitation in sending out Jason Doyle and Jack Holder. Neil Middleditch nominated Nicolai Klindt in Gate 1 and Brady Kurtz on Gate 3, despite Gate 3 having the worst record of any on the night, it appeared he was banking on a quick start from Klindt to seal at least a shared heat.

When the gates rose Klindt didn’t disappoint, as he forged away from the inside trap. As they reached the final turn of the lap, Doyle shot to the inside, completing his move as they entered the first curve of the next lap. Holder then set to chasing down Klindt as the Rebels sought a maximum advantage to take back to Wimborne Road in a fortnight’s time. He quickly closed the gap and challenged Klindt hard inside the second bend of the second circuit. Klindt held him off and Holder switched his challenge to the outside but could not find a way by and the heat closed with a Rebels 4-2.

It had been a hard fought encounter, with the visitors up for the task. Top score went to their skipper, Josh Grajczonek, who recorded a 9+1, with Nicolai Klindt posting an important 9-point haul, followed by Brady Kurtz with 8-points. The remainder of the team all scored valuable points at various stages of the meeting

Jason Doyle topped the Rebels score chart, with a superb 13-point haul, taking four straight wins after an opening third place. Jack Holder had a quite night score wise but worked extremely hard for his 7-point posting. Nicolai Klindt and Aaron Summers both banked 6+1 scores, with Richard Lawson having a rare off night with just 4-points, whilst the reserve pairing outscored their counterparts 11+1 to 7+1.

The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels will now head to Dorset with the narrowest of leads. But, as the old saying goes, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings” and whilst Poole fans may think she’s warming up her tonsils, they should remember that the Rebels are well capable of winning on their Wimborne Road patch. Meanwhile, the Rebels have other matters on hand, as they travel to the National Speedway Stadium on Wednesday (19th September), where they take on the Belle Vue Aces in the second leg of the K.O. Cup Semi-Final, taking a 14-point lead with them.

Meeting statistics

Somerset Rebels - 46

1. Jason Doyle - 1, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 13

2. Bradley Wilson-Dean - 3, 0, 2, 0 = 5

3. Nico Covatti - 2, 0, 1*, 3 = 6+1

4. Richard Lawson - 0, 2, 2, 0 = 4

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

6. Jake Allen - 3, 0, 0, 2 = 5

7. Aaron Summers - 1, 3, 1*, 1 = 6+1

Poole Pirates - 44

1. Brady Kurtz - 0, 3, 3, 2, 0 = 8

2. Kacper Woryna - 2, 1, 0, 1 = 4

3. Josh Grajczonek - 3, 3, 1*, 2 = 9+1

4. Nicolai Klindt - 1, 1, 2, 3, 2 = 9

5. Chris Harris - 2, 2, 3, 0 = 7

6. Richie Worrall - 2, 1*, 0, R = 3+1

7. Frederik Jakobsen - 0, 0, 3, 1 = 4

SCB Referee: Mick Bates

Heat Details

Heat 01: Wilson-Dean, Woryna, Doyle, Kurtz. (4-2) (4-2) 58.19

Heat 02: Allen, Worrall, Summers, Jakobsen. (4-2) (8-4) 58.25

Heat 03: Grajczonek, Covatti, Klindt, Lawson. (2-4) (10-8) 58.31

Heat 04: Summers, Harris, Holder, Jakobsen. (4-2) (14-10) 58.06

Heat 05: Kurtz, Lawson, Woryna, Covatti. (2-4) (16-14) 57.75

Heat 06: Doyle, Harris, Worrall, Wilson-Dean. (3-3) (19-17) 57.69

Heat 07: Grajczonek, Holder, Klindt, Allen. (2-4) (21-21) 58.04

Heat 08: Jakobsen, Wilson-Dean, Summers, Woryna. (3-3) (24-24) 59.25

Heat 09: Harris, Lawson, Covatti, Worrall. (3-3) (27-27) 59.00

Heat 10: Doyle, Klindt, Grajczonek, Wilson-Dean. (3-3) (30-30) 58.88

Heat 11: Kurtz, Holder, Woryna, Allen. (2-4) (32-34) 58.50

Heat 12: Covatti, Grajczonek, Summers, Worrall (Retired). (4-2) (36-36) 58.60

Heat 13: Doyle, Kurtz, Holder, Harris. (4-2) (40-38) 58.94

Heat 14: Klindt, Allen, Jakobsen, Lawson. (2-4) (42-42) 58.75

Heat 15: Doyle, Klindt, Holder, Kurtz. (4-2) (46-44) 58.94

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