Sunday August 23, 2015
The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels wrapped up their 3-match Northern Tour with a stunning 5 point win at 2nd placed Glasgow with Rebels’ skipper Josh Grajczonek riding through the pain barrier to lead Somerset to victory with a superb paid maximum.

Whilst Grajczonek returned to the Somerset side after missing the previous night’s win at Berwick due to a back injury he sustained in Friday night’s loss at Edinburgh, the Rebels were without recent signing Rasmus Jensen, who had an existing riding commitment in Poland, and with no facility available to them, had to draft in Berwick junior Keiran Douglas to ride in Jensen’s place at number 2 in their line-up.

The match itself was one full of drama, incidents, controversy and the simply bizarre, and did not start well for the Rebels as Glasgow opened up a 7 point lead after the opening 5 heats, with Somerset suffering two rider exclusions in that initial third of the match.

Heat 1 was a straightforward enough affair as Glasgow ran in a 4-2 race win, ex-Rebel Nick Morris heading home Somerset’s Brady Kurtz, this after the initial attempt to run the race was brought to a very early halt after an unsatisfactory start.

It took three attempts to run Heat 2, the first two of which saw the four riders get no further than the first bend, the first running seeing the riders called back for another unsatisfactory start, whilst the second was to see Somerset’s Oliver Greenwood come to grief after being left no room to manoeuvre on the outside as the other three riders heading for the outside line, the referee excluding Greenwood from the subsequent re-run.

In the 3-rider re-run the Glasgow duo of Hynek Stichauer and Victor Palovaara out-gate Paul Starke, Somerset’s sole representative, and then team-rode to keep Starke from getting even the sniff of a chance to pass either of the Tigers who took a 5-1 heat advantage.

Heat 3 saw Somerset’s Richie Worrall and Glasgow’s Aaron Summers in wheel to wheel action throughout, Worrall taking the lead from the tapes with Summers challenging throughout. After thwarting everything Summers tried in order to move through to the front, Worrall finally had to give second-best as the pair came off the 2nd bend for the final time, but as they headed down the back straight there was a coming together between the two riders which saw Worrall hit the deck.

Having deemed the Somerset rider as the cause of the incident, the referee duly excluded Worrall with Summers being declared the race winner and Charles Wright given 2nd place, but with Palovaara, Glasgow’s other race representative, already having retired from the race with mechanic issues, the race ended with a 3-2 score-line in favour of the Tigers.

The following 2 heats saw the sides swap 4-2 race wins, Grajczonek winning Heat 4 for the Rebels, while Summers took his second race win of the afternoon in taking the chequered flag in Heat 5.

Now 7 points down, Somerset suddenly hit back, and ran-in 4 maximum race wins over the course of the next 5 heats to move into a 9 point lead.

The first of these saw a tremendous tussle between Glasgow’s Nick Morris and Somerset’s Josh Grajczonek, while behind this duel, Rebels’ reserve Oliver Greenwood was riding a superb race in holding on to third place ahead of James Sarjeant.

As the riders took to the first turn on the third lap, Morris came to grief and whilst Grajczonek managed to avoid the stricken Tigers number 1, Greenwood was not so lucky, and with nowhere left to go, ran into Morris’ bike, the impact of which sent Greenwood crashing to the track.

Thankfully, both riders were able to get to their feet, apparently none the worse for wear, but with Morris duly excluded, the referee awarded the race as a 5-1 to Somerset.

Heat 7 saw another back straight incident as Somerset’s Charles Wright and Glasgow’s Richard Lawson tangled on the opening lap whilst battling for 2nd place behind Richie Worrall, Wright taking a nasty looking tumble as a result, the referee instantly stopping the race with Wright down on the track. Again, despite taking a trip back to the pits in the ambulance, the Somerset number 3 suffered no injury and was able to continue the meeting.

With Lawson deemed to be the cause of the incident, he was excluded from the re-run, which saw Worrall and Wright take a 5-1 heat win, Wright showing no ill-effects from his ‘off’ as he steamed around the outside of Palovaara as the pair exited the 4th bend on the opening lap after the Swede had passed for 2nd place earlier in the lap.

After much drama and incident over the course of the first 7 heats, heat 8 was a relatively tame affair as it saw a share of the spoils, Somerset’s Paul Starke jetting away to the race win, and although team mate Greenwood slid off on the opening bend, he was able to get himself up and continue the race, albeit in a distant 4th place.

Heats 9 and 10 were to see Somerset secure a further 2 maximum race wins, the former being an excellent display of team-riding by Rebels’ captain Josh Grajczonek as he rode ‘shot-gun’ on the tail of Paul Starke to hold off the challenge of Tigers’ skipper Aaron Summers, that being followed with a ‘tapes to flag’ win for the Somerset duo of Worrall and Wright to put the Rebels into that 9 point lead with 5 heats remaining.

But Glasgow are not second the Premier League table for nothing and they immediately hit back with a maximum 5-1 race win of their own in heat 11, Lawson team-riding home race partner Palovaara to effectively shut out any chance Brady Kurtz had of threatening the Tigers duo, the Tigers then closing to within 3 of the Rebels as they took a 4-2 race advantage in heat 12, the scores standing at 37-34 in Somerset’s favour.

But any thoughts the Tigers might have harboured of further in-roads into the Somerset lead were quickly extinguished as Josh Grajczonek won heat 13 with Kurtz picking up the point for 3rd place to move the Rebels back out to a 5-point lead and just 2 races remaining.

The penultimate heat was to see a bizarre incident, but not before two previous attempts to run the race had taken place, the first being called back for an unsatisfactory start, whilst the re-run saw Worrall receive his second exclusion of the afternoon after Starke and Summers came to grief on the first turn.

In the 3-rider re-run, it was Summers who hit the front with Starke in 2nd place for Somerset and Glasgow’s Palovaara in 3rd, and for three quarters of the 4-lap race, that looked as if that would be how the riders would finish, but with the race in his grasp, Summers suddenly slowed as he crossed the start/finish line at the end of the third lap, he apparently thinking the race was over having miscounted the number of laps.

After both Starke and Palovaara sailed past, Summers picked up his speed to continue the race, but the damage had been done with Starke taking the heat win to put Somerset into an unassailable lead with the final heat still to come.

That final race was, compared to much which had gone before, was a straightforward affair, it being notable as Grajczonek’s win completed his 5-ride paid maximum, the heat being drawn 3-3 to give Somerset victory on the day 47-42, it being only the second time this season that Glasgow have had the colours lowered on home shale.

“This was a really great performance by the boys,” said a delighted Garry May, the Somerset team manager, afterwards, “I don’t think many gave us much of a chance, going into the match as we were without Rasmus (Jensen) and having to use a junior rider in his place, but Josh played the true captain’s role, riding through the pain barrier to not only lead the side to victory but score a superb paid maximum of his own, while all the rest of the team gave him some great back-up.”

“This has been a long and tough weekend of racing, but after a disappointing start on Friday night at Edinburgh, the boys turned things around and the 7 league points we have picked up this weekend will make the long journey home so much more enjoyable!”

“Finally, I would like to thank all the Somerset fans who made the long trip up to cheer on the team over the course of the weekend, their dedication and support was very much appreciated by both myself and the team as a whole.”


GLASGOW 42: Aaron Summers 12+2, Victor Palovaara 10+2, Richard Lawson 8+1, James Sarjeant 5, Nick Morris 4, Hynek Stichauer 3, Kauko Nieminen r/r.

SOMERSET 47: Josh Grajczonek 14+1, Paul Starke 11+1, Charles Wright 8+2, Brady Kurtz 6, Richie Worrall 6, Oliver Greenwood 2+1, Keiran Douglas 0

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