Friday April 03, 2015
After last week’s challenge match, the first competitive action of the season at the Oak Tree Arena, saw the 'Cases' Somerset Rebels host the Plymouth Devils, in a group match of the Premier League Cup.

Plymouth arrived in Somerset minus their captain, former Rebel Kyle Newman, and reserve Ashley Morris, both of whom were on Elite league duty. Ironically Newman’s intend match at nearby Swindon was called off, but too late for him to return. Their places were taken by Rusty Harrison and Simon Nielsen respectively. As with most local rivalries, the full strength Rebels were not expecting an easy ride, despite the revised line up for the Devils.

The opening race did nothing to dispel that thought, as the Devils took a share of the points. It may have been more, had not Josh Grajczonek made the best of the opening turn, as he swept around the fast Ryan fisher as they exited the curve. Leigh Lanham made an average start in his terms, and appeared to get squeezed out before the bend; however he pressed Rusty Harrison all the way, never giving the Devils stand in a moment to relax, but in the end to no avail.

The reserve riders often make a difference to the outcome of a meeting, and the Rebels pairing made the first inroads into the result of the match, as they quickly gave the Rebels their first advantage of the evening. Paul Starke hit the front inside the second bend, after seeing off the early challenge of the fast starting Simon Nielsen. Benji Compton was next away, and held a good lead over Sam Chapman when the latter fell on the opening turn of the second lap. Chapman was quickly back on his machine, but retired after another lap. Meanwhile Starke was making the best of his way home, with Compton chasing Nielsen hard, but never getting in a blow.

The long awaited British debut of Jack Holder arrived in Heat 3. Holder, a winter target for the Rebels, didn’t get off to a good start when moving at the tapes. Just as he brought his bike to a standstill, the tapes went up, leaving him flat footed on the line, and last away. Richie Worrall and Charles Wright blasted away into an early lead, which eventually paid the maximum dividend, but not before Wright had to battle hard to earn the second place. After leading up with Worrall, Wright battled it out with Sam Simota, and the pair exchanged places three or four times, both inside and out, before Wright established himself in second place with a great outside run at the end of the second lap.

Heat 4 saw the field break level, with three riders going into the first bend together. Brady Kurtz got the upper hand coming on to the back straight, with Benji Compton following him through. Morten Risager was soon on Compton’s case, and shot underneath the Tenerife born rider. Compton looked to have third place locked up, until Simon Nielsen came on the scene late in Lap 3, and in a tight bend, got inside Compton to steal away the final scoring position, meanwhile Brady Kurtz was in the wind, and taking his initial win in what would turn out to be a very good night for him.

The Devils took their first heat win in the next heat, but were extremely unfortunate not to turn it into a maximum advantage. Ryan Fisher and Rusty Harrison shot from the tapes to lead before the turn, with the Rebels duo beaten for early pace. Richie Worrall found some speed, and threw down a challenge to Harrison on the final turn of the lap, but could not negotiate his way to make a pass on the Devils guest. Charles Wright took up the chase on the next lap, but was not making any impression when Fisher’s engine expired at the end of the third lap, to gift the Rebels a shared heat.

Heat 6 saw the Rebels increase their lead, but not before Josh Grajczonek had to execute a spectacular pass late into the affair, to take the win. Grajczonek took a big elbow from Morten Risager in the first turn, allowing the Dane to lead out the first lap. Grajczonek set off in pursuit of Risager, steadily closing him down, until he came with a big outside run on the third lap, squeezing through the narrowest of gaps between Risager and the fence coming off the second bend. He came up alongside the Devils stand in captain, before racing around the fence line to complete the pass off the final bend of the lap. Once at the front he pulled out a small lead to hold off Risager to the flag. Leigh Lanham easily took third place to give the Rebels to bring the score to 22-14 in favour of the home side.

Garry May switched the reserves in Heat 7, bringing in Benji Compton for Paul Starke. The race brought together, good friends, but now rivals, Brady Kurtz and Jack Holder. Their encounter was delayed, as Ronnie Allan brought them back to the tapes after an initial unsatisfactory start. In the restart Holder was quick out of the traps, and came over the top of Kurtz in the first turn, but Kurtz had other ideas. He cleverly moved Holder wide in the second turn, ensuring that he going to have to go the long way round if he wanted the lead. Kurtz took control and went on to an unchallenged win. Benji Compton held third place and looked untroubled, despite Sam Simota closing him down, when his machine gave up the ghost on the final turn of the third lap, leaving the Devils to take an unexpected share of the points.

The opposite reserve switch took place in the next heat, with Paul Starke taking the spot. The move paid the maximum dividends, as the Rebels pairing of Starke and Leigh Lanham rocketed from the tapes to lead before the turn. Once at the front, Lanham took up the running, with Starke holding off an initial challenge from Simon Nielsen, and later Rusty Harrison on the opening laps. From that point on it was easy for the Rebels, as they pulled away to take the ‘Full House’.

With the points difference now standing at 12, in favour of the Rebels, Lee Trigger quickly installed the Black and White helmet colour on Morten Risager, but in the end it brought no extra reward. A fairly level break saw Charles Wright take advantage of a large inside gap, left after Risager forced Richie Worrall wide in the opening curves. Ultimately Risager’s forcing tactics came to nothing, as Worrall just rode around his outside, to join Wright at the front. Once there, the Rebels double act ran out to a bloodless victory, leaving Risager in their dust, and Sam Chapman even further back.

Leigh Lanham appeared to have made the perfect start in Heat 10, but Ronnie Allan had other ideas, and called the riders back to the line to try again. At the next attempt, Sam Simota flew out of the gate to lead up from Lanham. The Ipswich born rider was soon challenging, but couldn’t find a route around the Devils man. Josh Grajczonek took up the chase, and steadily closed down Simota over the next three laps, until coming to the final turns of the race, he made a neat cut inside to just grab the lead off the final bend, but Simota got the better run out of the turn, and in a thrilling finish, just got back up on the line by the narrowest of margins.

Another Rebels reserve switch in Heat 11 saw Benji Compton in for Paul Starke. The race was won in the initial exchanges, as Brady Kurtz was swiftly into his stride to lead from Ryan Fisher before the opening turn. After the early battle for the lead, Kurtz pulled well clear to take not only the race, but his third win in as many races. Benji Compton challenged Rusty Harrison for third place at the end of the first lap, but could not stop the Australian from giving the Devils a share of the points.

Paul Starke took the next reserve switch, and made it pay as the Rebels took another advantage to further increase their lead. Richie Worrall trapped out with Jack Holder for company, but be the first turn he had taken the advantage over the latest rider off the Holder production line, holding his lead despite the pressure from the new Devils signing in the second bend. Holder kept pressing for all four laps, never giving Worrall a minute’s peace. By the final lap he was right back in the mix, and made a big dive up Worrall’s inside as they entered the penultimate bend, only to carry too much speed into the curve, and having to scrub off some momentum, giving Worrall the better run out of turn on the wider line. Starke was never troubled in third, and comfortably gave the Rebels the advantage, and leave the Devils with only the slight hope of taking points from the encounter.

Josh Grajczonek and Brady Kurtz flew from the tapes in Heat 13, but it was Kurtz who led out of the first turn, with Grajczonek in his wheel tracks. Taking the wide line, Kurtz produce another faultless display, and was never troubled for the remainder of the race, and by the time he had reached the flag, he had put himself on the brink of a 5 ride full maximum. Ryan Fisher got near to Grajczonek on the third turn of the second lap, but that was as close as it got for the Devils, as the Rebels top two ran out comfortable winners, to finally put paid to any chance of the visitors taking anything away from the tie.

The Rebels dominance was further reinforced in Heat 14, as they blasted in a second maximum advantage in succession. Paul Starke blazed from the tapes, with Charles Wright next up. Wright soon had a battle on his hands, with Sam Simota getting the better of the Stockport man inside the third turn, only to see Wright power back to second around his outside in the next turn. Once he had accounted for Simota’s pressure, Wright joined Starke at the front, and the pair team rode home, with Wright just taking the honours, as he moved up the inside Starke off the second turn of the final lap.

The nominated heat saw Morten Risager and Sam Simota come to the tapes for the visitors, whilst Garry May didn’t really have to think to hard about his representatives, as he sent out Josh Grajczonek and Brady Kurtz to contest the heat, with the latter having the added incentive of a full maximum to spur him on. Morten Risager did his best to spoil Kurtz’s party, as he bolted from the line to lead up from Grajczonek and his Devils team mate Simota. Kurtz soon got into his stride, passing both Grajczonek and Simota to go in pursuit of Risager. Showing maturity beyond his years, Kurtz displayed extreme patience in his chase of the Dane. Rather than trying to close the gap all at once, he steadily brought down the gap. As they entered the third lap, Kurtz suddenly made a stunning switch inside to swoop past Risager on the second turn, before going on, to his obvious delight, to complete his full 15-point maximum. Grajczonek easily held third place to give the 'Case's' Somerset Rebels a 59-31 victory in the tie.

Kurtz apart the Rebels had put in an superb all round performance to defeat their local rivals, and despite the one sided looking score they had produced some fantastic action to entertain the Easter crowd. Kurtz performance was backed up by Josh Grajczonek (11+1) and Charles Wright (10+1), with Richie Worrall steadily getting in the grove, and showing some improved form for his 9+2 haul. Paul Starke had a good night, whilst Leigh Lanham gave a battling performance for little reward.

Brady Kurtz was the understandable choice of meeting sponsors Whitepack Network Services for the ‘Rider of the Night’ trophy, which was presented on their behalf by Malcolm Tanner of Automania (Burnham-on-Sea).

The Devils may not have had the night they wished for, but they will be a different proposition in the return leg tonight (Saturday 4th April), as the teams take to the St Boniface arena circuit, where the host will benefit from the return of skipper Kyle Newman, and reserve Ashley Morris.

Somerset Rebels - 59

1. Josh Grajczonek 3, 3, 2, 2*, 1 = 11+1
2. Leigh Lanham 0, 1, 3, 1* = 5+1
3. Richie Worrall 3, 1*, 2*, 3 = 9+2
4. Charles Wright 2*, 2, 3, 3 = 10+1
5. Brady Kurtz 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 15
6. Paul Starke 3, 2*, 1, 2* = 8+2
7. Benji Compton 1, 0, R, 0 = 1

Plymouth Devils – 31

1. Ryan Fisher 2, R, 2, 1 = 5
2. Rusty Harrison (G) 1*, 3, 1, 1* = 6+2
3. Jack Holder 0, 2, 0, 2 = 4
4. Zdenek Simota 1, 1*, 3, 1, 0 = 6+1
5. Morten Risager 2, 2, 1^, 0, 2 = 7
6. Sam Chapman R, 0, 0, 0 = 0
7. Simon Nielsen (G) 2, 1*, 0, 0 = 3+1

SCB Referee: Ronnie Allan

Heat Details

Heat 01: Grajczonek, Fisher, Harrison, Lanham 3-3 57.62
Heat 02: Starke, Nielsen, Compton, Chapman (f.rem-ret) 4-2 7-5 59.25
Heat 03: Worrall, Wright, Simota, Holder 5-1 12-6 58.97
Heat 04: Kurtz, Risager, Nielsen, Compton 3-3 15-9 58.53
Heat 05: Harrison, Wright, Worrall, Fisher (Ret) 3-3 18-12 59.00
Heat 06: Grajczonek, Risager, Lanham, Chapman 4-2 22-14 58.13
Heat 07: Kurtz, Holder, Simota, Compton (Ret) 3-3 25-17 57.75
Heat 08: Lanham, Starke, Harrison, Nielsen 5-1 30-18 58.25
Heat 09: Wright, Worrall, Risager (Tactical), Chapman 5-1 35-19 58.66
Heat 10: Simota, Grajczonek, Lanham, Holder 3-3 38-22 58.94
Heat 11: Kurtz, Fisher, Harrison, Compton 3-3 41-25 58.79
Heat 12: Worrall, Holder, Starke, Chapman 4-2 45-27 59.18
Heat 13: Kurtz, Grajczonek, Fisher, Risager 5-1 50-28 59.09
Heat 14: Wright, Starke, Simota, Nielsen 5-1 55-29 59.97
Heat 15: Kurtz, Risager, Grajczonek, Simota 4-2 59-31 59.82

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