Somerset Rebels race to victory over Swindon Robins
- Credit: Archant
Somerset Rebels were 54-36 winners when they hosted Swindon Robins in the SGB Premiership, writes Dave Thompson.
For Monday’s reverse in the BT Sport televised encounter at Saddlebow Road, Garry May’s comments made it clear that he was more than a little disappointed, with not only the outcome but also the fact that the Rebels had slipped off top spot in the SGB Premiership table, and that he expected a better performance on Wednesday evening, when the opponents, Swindon Robins, visited as the league leaders in front of a bumper crowd.
To many observers, the task in front of the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels was a tough one, to say the least, some even proffered the opinion that the Rebels would be beaten. The Rebels were without World Champion, Jason Doyle, still recovering from his horror crash at the British Speedway GP. His place was taken by guest Rory Schlein. For their part, Swindon also fielded a guest, with former Rebel Rohan Tungate replacing Nick Morris, who was injured following another fall at the Abbey on Monday evening. However they had David Bellego and Zach Wajtknecht back in the side, both missing when the Rebels took victory at Blunsdon recently and in addition, Troy Batchelor had moved to the ‘Number One’ berth.
Bellego showed his point scoring potential in Heat 1 when he flashed from the tapes to lead all the way, in what proved to be the fastest time of the night, 56.59 seconds. Despite Bellego’s rapid departure from the tapes, the Robins were only to share the heat, as Troy Batchelor got no further than the first turn before his machine expired with a blown engine. Rory Schlein and Aaron Summers gave chase but Bellego was just too fast for them, as he pulled well clear to the flag.
Jake Allen had his gating boots on in the second heat, charging off the line to go clear before the turn. Behind him, Bradley Wilson-Dean and Zach Wajtknecht battled for supremacy, with former Rebel Wajtknecht just edging out the Kiwi on the second turn. Wilson-Dean fought back and was on the Swindon man’s back wheel several times, before putting in a powerful run around the final turns of the race but it proved to be to no avail, as Wajtknecht held enough of a gap to prevail. However, it was enough to give the Rebels a lead they were not to lose all night.
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The Robins suffered a further setback when Tobiasz Musielak got no further than the back straight in Heat 3. Musielak’s problem was the first of two ignition failures that were to dog him on the night. With the Pole stuck on the back straight, his partner, Adam Ellis, made a superb start, but was pressed all the way by Nico Covatti. As the pair approached the second turn Ellis caught a lift and by the time he had the bike back on two wheels, Covatti had taken the initiative and was streaking away. Ellis set about chasing Covatti down, but the Argentinian was not for catching and comfortably held his advantage to the line, with Richard Lawson taking the final point.
Heat 4 saw Jack Smith make a speedy exit from the tapes, leading into the turn by a couple of bike lengths but no sooner had he arrived at the apex of the bend, the red lights were on as Jim McGregor called the field back, issuing a warning to Smith for his premature departure from the gate.
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In the re-run Jack Holder was first to show, leading into the turn from Bradley Wilson-Dean and Smith. Wilson-Dean wasted no time relegating Smith to third place as they hit the back straight. The first lap was almost complete before Rohan Tungate had pushed him back a further place. By this time Tungate had a deal of ground to make up on the Rebels reserve, and it took another two laps before he was in a position to challenge. On the second turn, he tried a run up the inside of Wilson-Dean, which proved unsuccessful, and then he switched to the outside for a run at him around the final turns of the lap, which, like his first challenge, was repelled by the Rebels man, to give the home side their first of three maximums during the match.
The Robins supplied their second heat winner of the meeting when the speedy David Bellego hit the front from the gate in Heat 5. His position was soon under threat, with Nico Covatti cutting back into the second turn to steal away the lead. The Frenchman charged down the back straight, hit the outside dirt line, powering back to the front with a sustained burst from bend three, regaining first place as they crossed the line to start the second lap. Behind them Richard Lawson soon had Troy Batchelor, now on his second bike, under pressure, demoting him to the rear with a power run around the opening turns. As Bellego held off the attentions of Covatti, Lawson had a much easier time dealing with a somewhat anonymous Batchelor, to ensure the points were shared.
Heat 6 saw Alun Rossiter switch out his reserves, replacing Zach Wajtknecht with Jack Smith. Having supplied the winner of the previous heat, the Robins repeated the deed in this race. Rohan Tungate bolted from the tapes, leading all the way, to show that he’s not forgotten the fastest way around the Highbridge circuit. The Rebels pair of Aaron Summers and Rory Schlein could only chase the Robins guest from a distance, as they raced side-by-side. Schlein took second spot on the third lap, but with Tungate off in the distance, it was a pretty academic exercise.
The Rebels were back to winning ways in the next heat, not only supplying the winner but taking an advantage to stretch their lead. Jack Holder and Adam Ellis both made good starts to contest the lead to the turn, where Holder took the initiative by running Ellis out to the wide line, before going on to lead down the back straight. Jake Allen moved into third on the back straight, demoting Tobiasz Musielak to the rear. He then chased down Ellis, getting on terms towards the third turn of Lap 2 but in the end, he couldn’t make the move stick. Ellis seemed fired up as he tried to cut down Holder, however, he made no impression on the Rebels flyer after the second lap. Musielak was clearly in trouble after the second turn, as he started to slow as the race went on, until he finally gave up the ghost in the latter stages, again suffering ignition issues.
In Heat 8, the Robins team manager mirrored his earlier reserve switch, with Zach Wajtknecht replacing Jack Smith. At the tape rise, Bradley Wilson-Dean shot from the tapes to lead from a closely contested battle between Aaron Summers and David Bellego. The Robins man just got the better of that scrap and was soon hunting down Wilson-Dean. As the pair approached the final turn, the Robins flyer took a hard dash up the inner, sweeping into the lead and cutting to the fence in a superb move that saw Wilson-Dean looking for a way back. As they hit the second lap, the New Zealander was back in a challenging position but as they hit the back straight Bellego’s speed defeated his inside run. Once in clear air Bellego moved into top gear, pulling clear with every turn of his wheels. Wajtknecht never got in the hunt after running very wide in the opening turns.
With the Robins 10-points down, Alun Rossiter had the Frenchman straight back on track as he threw in his tactical substitution in place of Zach Wajtknecht. Having seen the French rider’s first three races, the result looked a foregone conclusion; surely it would be Bellego’s fourth win on the spin. But as often happens in these circumstances, the law according to Sod reared its ugly head for the Robins.
When the tapes flew, it wasn’t Bellego who hit the front, rather his partner, Rohan Tungate. He was followed by the Rebels duo of Nico Covatti and Richard Lawson, with Lawson taking up the chase down the back straight. He powered after Tungate, finally running him down at the end of the second lap, sweeping up his inside to hit the front on the first curve of the penultimate lap. If the Rebels faithful thought that the job was done, they had a surprise coming, with Tungate keeping it wound on, before coming with the proverbial ‘Wet Sail’ on the wide outside of the final turns of the race. As the line approached there was nothing between the pair and they flashed over the line locked together. Only the referee could separate them and it was to a huge cheer from the home fans that he announced Lawson as the winner. Covatti took third from an ailing Bellego, who it appeared burned out a clutch plate.
Heat 10 was shared but only after a re-start, following the Robins pair getting a flying start. However, Jim McGregor deemed that Adam Ellis’s start was just too quick, pulling them back and issuing a warning to the errant Ellis. In the re-run, once again the Robins duo blazed from the tapes to lead, with a rejuvenated Tobiasz Musielak leading at the turn. Aaron Summers quickly engaged Ellis and was in second place as they ran the back straight. He continued his run, closing down Musielak in the process, before hitting the front at the final turns of the lap. His tenure in the lead lasted only as long as it took to reach the opener on the second lap, where Musielak retook the lead and pulled out a winning gap. Rory Schlein pushed Ellis to last place on the back straight of the opening lap, taking a comfortable third place in the final reckoning.
Jack Holder hit the front early in Heat 11, with Troy Batchelor and David Bellego giving chase. Jake Allen was just last into the turn but his quick thinking saw him head for the fence, driving hard around the wide outside, before steaming by the Robins pairing on the back straight, only to see Batchelor slip back inside him on the third turn. Bellego slowly closed the gap on Allen, which saw him challenge on the first bend of the third lap. Going into the next turn, Allen lifted, which was the opening Bellego needed to take third place. Allen was challenging back at the end of the lap and was close up as the headed onto the final circuit. Suddenly Bellego slowed dramatically and came to a halt as Allen took avoiding action. Shortly after the race his chain was lifted from the track, the cause of the chain break, again attributed to a blown clutch plate. With Holder taking an easy win, the Rebels increased their lead to 14-points.
The meeting was put beyond any doubt in the next two races, where two Rebels maximums sealed the Robins fate, sending them back to Swindon pointless. The first of these came as Nico Covatti made a slick start to lead from Adam Ellis and Zach Wajtknecht, with Bradley Wilson-Dean not far behind at the rear. Wilson-Dean remedied the situation in short order, with an enormously brave move, squeezing through the narrowest of gaps on the outer of both Swindon riders, and then having to control a lift right on top of the third turn. He had the front wheel down lightning fast and was soon ensuring that his opponents stayed in his wake. As the race came to a conclusion, Ellis came with a big run around the fence in the final turns but Wilson-Dean had too much in hand, comfortably holding onto his second place.
Despite a big lift off the start, all the way to the turn, Rory Schlein still headed the field as they hit the curve in Heat 13. Jack Holder was last away but made a tremendous cut back on the second bend to squeeze through an almost non-existent gap, pushing Troy Batchelor and Rohan Tungate to the rear. He joined Schlein at the front and the result was way beyond recall for Swindon by the time Batchelor retired on the third lap.
Tobiasz Musielak put a much better complexion on his night as he took his second win, in Heat 14, after a frustrating start. He had a tight battle to the turn with Jake Allen, just edging out the Rebel on the second bend. Allen came on strong, with a challenge on the final turns of the lap, where the pair came very close to each other, but he couldn’t take the advantage, as Musielak held sway. Richard Lawson took a comfortable third place, despite a strong finish from Zach Wajtknecht.
Garry May sent out Jack Holder, along with double winner Nico Covatti, for the nominated heat. From the Swindon side of the pits, Rohan Tungate and Tobiasz Musielak emerged to do battle, and what a battle it was. Musielak blew from the tapes to battle for the lead with Holder. Musielak just got over the top of Holder, clamping him to the kerb in the second turn. Much to the home fans delight, a lap later Holder moved out to the fence line, roaring down the back straight and sweeping around Musielak off the final bend of the lap. It looked like a Holder win for all money until Rohan Tungate came on the scene later in the race. He slipped inside Holder on the second bend of the final lap, the pair then racing wheel-to-wheel down the back straight, with Musielak right on their tail. On the third turn, Holder had Tungate on his inner, and couldn’t cover the inside run of Musielak, who then shot through the inside line to grab second spot off the final bend of the race, producing the Robins only heat advantage on the night.
The final scoreline belied the quality of the racing, which was reflected in the fact that despite the fact they had suffered a 54-36 defeat; Swindon had supplied almost half of the heat winners but the other side of that statistic was the fact that they had also recorded 14 last places. Rohan Tungate was Swindon’s top scorer, with 10-points, however his only back up was 9-points from David Bellego and 8+1 from Tobiasz Musielak.
From the Rebel point of view, it had been an all-round team performance, with everyone scoring at least 6+ points. Top score on the night went to Jack Holder, with 12+1, a performance that won him the Somerset ‘Rider of the Night’ award from meeting sponsors M & J Sealey Bricklaying Ltd. As well as defeating a local rival, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels 54-36 win had also propelled them back to the top of the league table, after an absence of just two days.
The Rebels next action will be at the Oaktree Arena on Wednesday 8th August against Wolverhampton. In addition, it will not only be the date of the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels annual Golf Day, but it will also see the return of a rested and recovered Jason Doyle to the team.
Somerset Rebels = 54
1. Rory Schlein (Guest) - 1*, 2, 1*, 3 = 7+2
2. Aaron Summers - 2, 1*, 1*, 2 = 6+2
3. Nico Covatti - 3, 1*, 1, 3, 0 = 8+1
4. Richard Lawson - 1, 2, 3, 1* = 7+1
5. Jack Holder - 3, 3, 3, 2*, 1 = 12+1
6. Jake Allen - 3, 1, 1, 2 = 7
7. Bradley Wilson-Dean - 1, 2*, 2, 2* = 7+2
Swindon Robins = 36
1. Troy Batchelor - R, 0, 2, R = 2
2. David Bellego - 3, 3, 3, 0, R = 9
3. Adam Ellis - 2, 2, 0, 1 = 5
4. Tobiasz Musielak - R, R, 3, 3, 2* = 8+1
5. Rohan Tungate (Guest) - 1, 3, 2, 1, 3 = 10
6. Zach Wajtknecht - 2, 0, 0, 0 = 2
7. Jack Smith - 0, 0, 0 = 0
SCB Referee: Jim McGregor
Heat 01: Bellego, Summers, Schlein, Batchelor (Ret) (3-3) (3-3) 56.59
Heat 02: Allen, Wajtknecht, Wilson-Dean, Smith (4-2) (7-5) 57.81
Heat 03: Covatti, Ellis, Lawson, Musielak (Ret) (4-2) (11-7) 57.88
Heat 04: Holder, Wilson-Dean, Tungate, Smith (5-1) (16-8) 57.32
Heat 05: Bellego, Lawson, Covatti, Batchelor (3-3) (19-11) 57.94
Heat 06: Tungate, Schlein, Summers, Smith (3-3) (22-14) 57.44
Heat 07: Holder, Ellis, Allen, Musielak (Ret) (4-2) (26-16) 57.57
Heat 08: Bellego, Wilson-Dean, Summers, Wajtknecht (3-3) (29-19) 57.93
Heat 09: Lawson, Tungate, Covatti, Bellego (Tactical) (4-2) (33-21) 58.50
Heat 10: Re-Run: Musielak, Summers, Schlein, Ellis (3-3) (36-24) 58.31
Heat 11: Holder, Batchelor, Allen, Bellego - Retired (4-2) (40-26) 58.56
Heat 12: Covatti, Wilson-Dean, Ellis, Wajtknecht (5-1) (45-27) 58.81
Heat 13: Schlein, Holder, Tungate, Batchelor (5-1) (50-28) 58.63
Heat 14: Musielak, Allen, Lawson, Wajtknecht (3-3) (53-31) 59.00
Heat 15: Tungate, Musielak, Holder, Covatti (1-5) (54-36) 59.12