Friday May 03, 2013
The ‘Cases Somerset Rebels’ opened their Premier League challenge against what was initially a solid looking Leicester Lions.

However the Lions quickly became a toothless beast, through a combination of self inflicted wounds, and a re-jigged, rampant Rebels septet. The first blow for Leicester came before a wheel had been turned, with the news that Lasses Bjerre had travelled to Denmark to take part in the Danish Championship semi-finals, and the Lions would operate rider replacement in the number three slot. The second, and definitely fatal, blow to their chances of taking points from the encounter came on the track, in a protracted first heat, with the villain of the piece being their very own Jan Graversen.

A switch of race positions for the Rebels had brought Kyle Newman into the number two spot, with Alex Davies going in the opposite direction to number four. As Paul Carrington pressed the go button in Heat 1, Jason Doyle flew from the gate to lead up the fast starting Graversen. As Newman and Kauko Nieminen got into their stride they challenged on the outside of Graversen in the first turn. Graversen was tight to the kerb, and as the other two arrived on his outside, he went down without contact, bringing the race to a halt. The referee’s view was that it was an ‘all four back’ situation, but Graversen could consider himself extremely lucky still to be in the race.

In the restart Doyle was again quickly away, but this time Newman and Nieminen broke in front of Graversen, but on the run to the turn, the Dane moved right off the line, hitting Newman, pushing him into Nieminen, who took a hard awkward looking fall, taking the brunt of the fall on his head. Graversen’s move had without doubt been the cause of this stoppage, but again Paul Carrington didn’t seem to see it that way, and once more all four riders were sent back to the tapes. In Nieminen’s case this took a long time, as he was down on the track for a long period, before eventually getting to his feet, and walking back to the pits, somewhat groggily.

In the second restart Doyle made it a hat trick of blinding starts, with the fortunate Graversen just getting the better of Newman in the a closely contested first turn, whilst Nieminen slowed to a halt as his machine gave up in the middle of the turn. Nieminen was to withdraw before his next ride, with a slight concussion, and with his exit, any chance for Leicester, of points from the match disappeared with him.

The Rebels had made several riding position changes for this match, with only Jason Doyle remaining in his original position. The switch for the reserves had seen them exchange places, giving the fast starting Stefan Nielsen, now at six, the inside gate in their first ride. As the tapes rose in Heat 2 it looked like it may have paid dividends, as Nielsen led up alongside his namesake Leicester’s Simon Nielsen. But in the first turn it was the Leicester Nielsen who took up the running, with Stefan in a comfortable second. As the riders came back to the home straight for the first time, Stefan locked up badly, and the newly signed Robert Branford ran into the back of him, with both riders very lucky not to hit the dirt. That gave Tom Perry the opportunity to slip into second place, and once the other two had recovered, the race settled into a shared heat.

Nick Morris, by his own admission, has struggled in his home outings so far this season, so he was hoping a change of race jacket would bring a change of fortune, as he swapped places with Josh Grajczonek in the number three and five spots, but he could not have dreamt just how much his fortune would improve.

As the referee let them go a Rebels win looked to be the furthest result from reality imaginable, as Morris and Davies were stone last, as Jan Graversen, in for Bjerre, scorched off the line to lead up his team mate, Kevin Doolan. By the second turn, Graversen was stone last, and the Rebels duo were at the head of affairs after what can only be described as an awe-inspiring first turn by the pair. Davies carved up the inside, to first account for Doolan, before muscling Graversen out of the lead, whilst at the same time Morris powered around the dirt line, to pass both Lions riders in one move and join Davies at the head of affairs. It was breath taking stuff that had the Rebels fans whooping with delight. Morris was soon in front, and the pair cruised to an effortless maximum advantage.

As Heat 4 got underway, it was the two reserves that made slightly the better start, with Simon Nielsen just getting the better of Tom Perry to the turn. Meanwhile Josh Grajczonek and Magnus Karlsson got into their strides, and came charging around the outside line to demote the two early leaders to the rear. Grajczonek held the power on, and by the back straight he had carved past Karlsson on the wide outside, to lead the race to bend three. Behind them the reserves were having a ding dong battle, with Perry all over the back of Nielsen. As Perry challenged on the outside the Dane would slam the door shut, eventually nullifying Perry’s charges and securing third for himself, as Grajczonek shot clear at the front, as the heat was shared.

The next heat was delayed, as the track medic took a second look at Kauko Nieminen, with the result that the Finn withdrew from the meeting with a mild concussion. His place would now have to be taken by the reserve riders, and it was Simon Nielsen who arrived at the tapes for the second race in succession. Jan Graversen again made a rapid exit from the tapes, but his tenure at the front lasted no longer than his last effort, as Nick Morris carved up his inside to lead off the second turn, and very soon Nielsen had passed his fellow countryman. Alex Davies appeared on the scene at the same point on Lap 2 and although his outside challenge was repelled by Graversen on this occasion, he was soon into third spot, as he cruised by Graversen on the outside of the final turn of the lap. He then switched inside, and delivered a challenge to Nielsen, between the Lions reserve and the kerb, on the second bend of the next lap, before switching back outside to complete the move on the final bend of the lap, pulling away in second place to give the Rebels a second maximum advantage of the night.

Another full house quickly followed, but not before Magnus Karlsson had lead up from the tapes. It wasn’t long before Jason Doyle breezed past Karlsson on the second bend, and pulling away. If Karlsson thought he was safe in second place, he’d reckoned without a determined Kyle Newman, who set sail after the younger of the Karlsson brothers, delivering his initial challenge outside the final turn of the lap. Unsuccessful on that occasion, he charged on undaunted, and just under a lap later he cruised around the outside of the third turn, to move into a clear second spot, giving the Rebels a 14-point lead in the process.

The Lions quickly sent out Kevin Doolan for a tactical ride, with Magnus Karlsson making a rapid return as the rider replacement for Bjerre. Josh Grajczonek got the better of a fairly level break, with Doolan and Karlsson settling in the minor places, giving the Lions a heat advantage as they stood. Stefan Nielsen had other ideas, and was soon harrying Karlsson for third spot. By the end of Lap 3 he stormed up the inside of Karlsson, and completed a superb inside pass well before the turn. As they entered the first turn for the final time Karlsson went down, but rather than clear the track, he stood with his arms held out in protest. His pleas were in vain, as Paul Carrington flipped on the red lights and duly and rightly excluded Karlsson as the cause of the stoppage, and the heat was shared 4-4.

Heat 8 was another that saw a restart, and it was that man Graversen who was at the forefront of affairs again. As the tapes rose for the initial start, the referee quickly called them back as Kyle Newman clearly got a ‘Flyer’. The restart saw a level break, with Graversen just getting the drop into the turn. Newman was quickly on his case, and as Graversen caught a lift Newman was up his inside in a flash. As Newman made a clean pass up the inside of the next bend, Graversen got completely out of shape, and fell, with Newman clear of him, but from the referee’s viewpoint, looking from the inside of the incident, he saw Newman as the culprit, and excluded the Rebels man, a decision that he would surely not have made from a different angle. In start number three, Graversen just lead out of the turn, and that was enough to seal the fate of Tom Perry, who despite accounting for Simon Nielsen, and putting in a spirited challenge to Graversen, could not make the final move stick, and had to make do with second place, whilst still fending off Nielsen behind him.

Heat 9 brought the ‘Black and White’ back to the line, with the wearer this time being Magnus Karlsson. In the end he didn’t fare any better than Kevin Doolan in the previous attempt, having to settle for second spot behind the rejuvenated Nick Morris. Again Morris didn’t make the best of starts, and it was left to Alex Davies to make the early challenge to Karlsson, with the Swede getting the better of their opening duel. Morris moved out into the dirt, and came flying around the outside, as Davies challenged Karlsson down the back straight. Whilst Davies’ run didn’t produce the goods, Morris was eventually more successful, as he first moved to second place as he powered by Davies at the start of the next lap, before catching Karlsson on the third turn of Lap 3, and then charging around his outside on the very next turn, and go on to take the win with ease. Karlsson held second spot to share the heat points.

The new Doyle/Newman partnership produced the goods again in Heat 10, with their second maximum of the night. Newman made a great start to lead up, with Doyle and Kevin Doolan in his wheel tracks. Doyle edged out Doolan in the initial curve, before going to the front out of the next. From there on it was an effortless victory for the Rebels pairing, with Doyle going well clear, and Newman riding a superb race to put and maintain distance between himself and the vastly experienced Doolan.

The Rebels consolidated their lead in the very next heat, with a further maximum, due in no little part to the tenacity of Stefan Nielsen. Josh Grajczonek made a lightning break to lead every inch of the way, but Nielsen, for once, was not so snappy off the gate. It didn’t take him long to get into his stride, as he was up the inside of Robert Branford, the new British U21 Champion, on the third turn. Now in third he set off after Jan Graversen, challenging up the inside of the next turn. Despite being repelled, he repeated the move at the same point on the next lap, with the same result, before finally getting the better of Graversen; inside the final turns of Lap 3, and pulling away. Graversen’s ignominy was not over, as Branford demoted him to last place on the final lap.

Kevin Doolan took the rider replacement ride in Heat 12, but it didn’t produce any better than a shared heat, as Nick Morris led from the start to lead every yard to the flag. Doolan held a comfortable second place, as the real battle raged behind him, with Tom Perry all over Robert Branford for all four laps, but could not find his way to scoring a point, as Branford manfully held him off.

Heat 13 saw the Rebels hammer home their growing advantage, with the match having been secured a long time ago, they banked all three league points with their sixth, but not final maximum advantage on the night. Jason Doyle streaked off the gate to lead up, with the two Lions riders, Karlsson and Nielsen, slotting into the minor places. Josh Grajczonek didn’t take long to recover his slow start, and by the fourth turn he was around Nielsen on the outside. Switching to the inside he was soon on Karlsson, and by the third bend of the next lap he was pressuring the Lions man. However it took him another lap to work the pass, but on the final turn of the lap 3 he was quickly up the inside, and into second place. As Doyle pulled well clear to win, Grajczonek secured second spot to give the Rebels a 53-29 lead in the match.

Kevin Doyle led from the tape rise in Heat 14, with Alex Davies in second spot, but the Northampton born Aussie was soon in the groove, and charged down Doolan over the opening turns, sweeping around the outside of the back straight. Doolan was soon back in front, up the inside, as the pair negotiated the third turn, only for Davies to power back to the front, wide around the last turn of the lap, before pulling out a lead he was not to lose. Meanwhile Stefan Nielsen got the better of his namesake, Simon, on the fourth turn to wrap up third spot, before rapidly closing on Doolan, but never being able to get in a blow for second.

The nominated heat brought two of the Rebels three potential maximum men to the tapes, in the shape of Jason Doyle and Nick Morris, with Josh Grajczonek having to sit it out on this occasion. For the visitors it was Kevin Doolan and Magnus Karlsson, but in truth it didn’t really matter who they tracked, as the Rebels duo proved that they would have been a match for just about anybody on the night. Morris led from the gate, with Karlsson and Doyle contesting second spot. Doyle moved quickly around the outside line, and was soon in second place, but had to fend off a challenge from Doolan in the process. Once Doolan had been seen off it was clear running for the Rebels, with Doyle taking up the running and pulling well clear by the end of the lap. With Doyle well in front, and Morris in an armchair second spot, the pair approached the final turn of the race, and Doyle unselfishly slowed to allow Morris to complete his maiden Oak Tree Arena full maximum.

The Lions had been well and truly mauled, but their major problems were of their own making, with the non appearance of Bjerre, and Graversen’s excursion in the first turn, resulting in the eventual withdrawal of Kauko Nieminen. Had Graversen been excluded in the first running of the heat, as he should have been, he would never have been in the rerun to skittle out his own man.

In the Rebels, with a combination of major changes in the riding order, and a track more suited to their style than it had been of late, they had met a team at the top of their game, who they surely would have had problems coping with under normal circumstances, but in their depleted state they were easy meat for the home side.

It would be churlish to single any one rider out for praise in the Rebels camp, but with three riders all returning maximums, it is clear to see that they all had a superb night. However you have to mention Nick Morris, who’s stunning maiden full maximum for the ‘Cases Somerset Rebels’ rightly earned him the ‘Rider of the Night’ award from the meeting sponsors ‘Harris Brothers Car Breakers’ of Weston-Super-Mare. If this is the shape of things to come, the Rebels fans are in for a real treat. Roll on the rest of the season.

Somerset – 62
1. Jason Doyle 3, 3, 3, 3, 2* = 14+1
2. Kyle Newman 1, 2*, X, 2* = 5+2
3. Nick Morris 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 15
4. Alex Davies 2*, 2*, 1, 3 - 8+2
5. Josh Grajczonek 3, 3, 3, 2* = 11+1
6. Stefan Nielsen 1*, 1, 2*, 1 = 5+2
7. Tom Perry 2, 0, 2, 0 = 4

Leicester - 32
1. Kauko Nieminen R = 0 Withdrawn
2. Jan Graversen 2, 0, 0, 3, 1 = 6
3. Lasse Bjerre Rider Replacement
4. Kevin Doolan 1, 4^, 1, 2, 2, 1 = 11
5. Magnus Karlsson 2, 1, Flx, 4^, 1, 0 = 8
6. Robert Branford 0, 0, 0, 0, 1* = 1+1
7. Simon Nielsen 3, 1*, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0 = 6+1
SCB Referee: Paul Carrington

Heat Details
Heat 01: (Re-run x 2) Doyle, Graversen, Newman, Nieminen (ret) (4-2) (4-2) 57.71
Heat 02: Simon Nielsen, Perry, Stefan Nielsen, Branford (3-3) (7-5) 59.47
Heat 03: Morris, Davies, Doolan, Graversen (5-1) (12-6) 57.69
Heat 04: Grajczonek, Karlsson, Simon Nielsen, Perry (3-3) (15-9) 58.94
Heat 05: Morris, Davies, Simon Nielsen, Graversen (5-1) (20-10) 58.47
Heat 06: Doyle, Newman, Karlsson, Branford (5-1) (25-11) 58.94
Heat 07: Grajczonek, Doolan (Tactical), Stefan Nielsen, Karlsson fell (4-4) (29-15) Awarded
Heat 08: (Re-run x 2) Graversen, Perry, Simon Nielsen, Newman (excl) (2-4) (31-19) 59.81
Heat 09: Morris, Karlsson (tactical), Davies, Branford (4-4) (35-23) 58.63
Heat 10: Doyle, Newman, Doolan, Simon Nielsen (5-1) (40-24) 58.50
Heat 11: Grajczonek, Stefan Nielsen, Graversen, Branford (5-1) (45-25) 59.47
Heat 12: Morris, Doolan, Branford, Perry (3-3) (48-28) 58.75
Heat 13: Doyle, Grajczonek, Karlsson, Simon Nielsen (5-1) (53-29) 59.31
Heat 14: Davies, Doolan, Stefan Nielsen, Simon Nielsen (4-2) (57-31) 59.60
Heat 15: Morris, Doyle, Doolan, Karlsson (5-1) (62-32) 58.90

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