Monday May 27, 2013
The last time the ‘Case’s Somerset Rebels laid rubber on shale at the Eddie Wright Raceway, they left having suffered the mammoth disappointment of just missing out on the Premier League title, by a scant one point.

On that occasion they were without their captain, Jason Doyle, who had succumbed to injury at the 2012 Premier League Riders Championship, two weeks earlier, and reserve Tom Perry who had suffered a scaphoid injury the previous week.

This time, with the skipper back at the helm, they fired in an early salvo of maximum value heats that would have sunk many a side without trace, but the Scorpions fought back to such an extent that they were leading by 1-point by Heat 8, only to see the Rebels lay down another barrage of heat advantages from the next heat onwards, to run out winners by a huge 19-point margin.

The Scorpions got off to the worst possible start, as the original running of Heat 1 saw Josh Auty appear to be hauled into the tapes with a dragging clutch, and consequently have to start off a 15-metre handicap penalty. In the restart, Michael Palm Toft got a good jump from the tapes, leading up Kyle Newman to the turn. Jason Doyle was soon up into second, as they ran down the back straight, and was quickly pressing for the lead. By the third turn of the penultimate lap his presence forced Palm Toft into a mistake, and the Dane span out, leaving the Rebels to collect the maximum points haul, as Newman superbly held off the charging Auty for second place.

Heat 2 produced another unsatisfactory start, with Stefan Nielsen seemingly too quickly away for the liking of Jim Lawrence. The restart saw the Scorpions making the early running, with Lewis Blackbird being the hare. Ryan Douglas was soon swamped by the Rebels duo, as first Stefan Nielsen, on bend three, and then Tom Perry, on the very next turn, guided by to chase up Blackbird. The former Leicester and Mildenhall man looked to have the race almost won, when he too bit the dust, as he exited bend two on the third circuit, leaving the Rebels to take their second full house of the afternoon.

The Rebels third full house on the trot was the most emphatic, and held nothing to luck. As the tapes rose Nick Morris lifted out of the gate, as Alex Davies flew to the bend in front. Morris soon had his machine down and running, to such effect that he was able to clamp Ashley Birks to the kerb in the first turn. Birks soon gave chase, and was harrying Morris, when the Canberra born man caught an enormous lift out of the second turn on Lap 3. The pair were at it hammer and tongs over the next lap, and were on the edge as they approached the same spot on the final lap, where once more the track almost got the better of both riders, as they fought to control their bucking steeds, but control them they did. Whilst this was going on behind him, Alex Davies had stormed to the win, and with Morris holding off the charge of Birks, the Rebels posted a 3-15 lead.

When the referee pressed the ‘Go Button’ for Heat 4, another Rebels advantage looked on the cards, as Tom Perry bolted from the gate to lead up from David Howe, and Josh Grajczonek. Grajczonek powered around the opening curve to lead off the second turn, as Howe cut up the inside of Perry to grab second. The race looked to have quickly settled to a 2-4 for the Rebels, with Grajczonek looking uncatchable, until he suddenly slowed. Howe was on him like a flash, and was soon by to lead the race, but it was clear that the Rebels man had problems, and he soon ground to a halt, giving the Scorpions an unexpected first heat advantage.

The Scunthorpe team manager wasted no time in introducing a tactical ride, sending Ashley Birks out in the ‘Black and White’ for Heat 5. Birks made no mistake, as he blasted off the line to lead every inch of the way. He may not have been headed, but it wasn’t for the want of trying on Jason Doyle’s part. After disposing of Michael Palm Toft, with a big run around the outside of the opening turns, Doyle set off after Birks, pressuring him all the way to the line, but to no avail, as Birks repelled his every move to take the double points win, whilst Palm Toft held off Kyle Newman to give the home side a 7-2 advantage, reducing the Rebels lead to just 5-points.

Birks didn’t have time to rest on his laurels, as Dave Peet sent him straight back out to take the rider replacement ride in the next heat. The tapes rose, and so did Birks and Josh Grajczonek, with both lifting off the line, as Josh Auty shot to the lead from Stefan Nielsen. Nielsen was soon challenging Auty, throwing down the gauntlet on the third turn. Auty held him off, but Nielsen was persistent, coming with a big run around the boards on the opening bend of the next lap, but just as it was looking that he might squeeze through into the lead, he ran out of room and came down, and was excluded for his troubles. When the re-run got underway, it was the home riders who made the best gate, aided by some movement at the tapes from Auty. Grajczonek was never far away, and although he couldn’t find a way by the home duo, he was there to pick up any pieces if they were offered, but the Scorpions held on to the maximum advantage, bringing the deficit down to just 1-point.

A shared heat followed, with the home side providing the winner, but not the one many would have expected. Ryan Douglas bolted from the gate, and ran to the bend in the company of his partner, and with the Rebels duo close up. Douglas stormed around the wide line, taking up the running on the back straight he never looked back. Nick Morris gave chase, as he slipped past David Howe off the second bend, and he was quickly followed by Alex Davies, and the pair charged after Douglas. Try as they might the Rebels could not peg back the young Aussie, who rode a superb race to hold off his more experienced rivals.

The Scorpions took the lead in Heat 8 as they posted a 4-2 advantage. There was movement at the start from Lewis Blackbird, but Jim Lawrence let them go, with Howe and Blackbird taking the early advantage. Kyle Newman was not far away, and slipped inside Blackbird on the second turn, but he had no answer to Howe’s powerful run around the boards. As he chased the Scorpions skipper, he in turn had to fend off the attentions of Blackbird in third. Blackbird got himself in a challenging position a few times during the race, but came closest with his final attempt, making a superb cutback of the last turn, he almost got up on the line, but Newman just had too much in hand for him, as he held on to prevent the home side taking a full house.

With the home Scorpions now leading by 1-point, the home fans were clearly thinking that their side would go on to win, having pulled back an early deficit that would have destroyed many teams, but they figured without the Rebels determination to take the fight all the way to the wire. On the visitor’s side of the pits Garry May was stoking up his troops for a final assault on the prize of 4 league points, and his battle cry obviously found receptive ears, as the Rebels produced a storming finish to the match, to post a stunning 19-point victory.

Heat 9 signalled the beginning of the end for the Scorpions, as the Rebels hammered home a full house at the second attempt. In the original running Michael Palm Toft made a superb gate to lead up Josh Grajczonek, and Ashley Birks. Stefan Nielsen ran a superb bend to storm around the outside of the pair, and track Palm Toft, only to see the Dane overcook it, lift and then fall on the fourth turn. With Palm Toft excluded from the re-run, the Rebels made the best start, leading from the off, and team rode the first lap, until Nielsen switched inside at the end of the second lap. Birks chased Nielsen down, but could never get on terms, as the young Rebel held all the aces, and not only held off Birks, but did it with some ease.

The Scorpions held firm in the next heat, as they prevented the Rebels from taking an advantage, and shared the heat. The field broke level, but Auty charged around the wide line to lead onto the back straight, and then pull out a good lead before the flag. That was the race in a nutshell, until Alex Davies unexpectedly shot up the inside of Morris on the final two bends of the penultimate lap to grab second place.

Auty’s win was the end of the Scorpions resistance, with the Rebels taking advantages in all of the final five heats, including three more maximum heat wins. Heat 11 produced one of those full house wins. As Kyle Newman, David Howe, and Lewis Blackbird broke level, Jason Doyle lifted off the start. Newman sailed around the outside line to hit the front on the back straight. At the same time Doyle charged by Howe, and set off in pursuit of Blackbird. With the Rebels skipper pressing hard, and seemingly on the point of delivering a successful challenge, Blackbird fell on the second turn of the third lap, leaving the Rebels in the prime positions, as the referee brought a halt, and awarded the race 1-5 to the visitors.

Heat 12 saw a level break, before Nick Morris stuck it out in the dirt, and towed past the whole field in the opening turns. Stefan Nielsen slipped up the inside of Michael Palm Toft, but could not make it another full house, as Ryan Douglas beat him into the second spot. Nielsen powered after his Scorpions counterpart, and was all over him for all four laps, but couldn’t find a route to find his way into second, as the Rebels took a 2-4 advantage.

If some of the racing up to this point had been good, it was nothing compared to what was to come in Heat 13. As the tapes rose, it looked like the Rebels scoring spree had come to an end, as Josh Auty made the best of an outrageous and unpunished jump at the start, and was followed to the turn by his race partner, David Howe. Josh Grajczonek was soon on Howe’s tail, and on Lap 2 he took the wide line to guide by the Scorpions captain, and he was soon followed by Jason Doyle. The pair closed down Auty at the front, and by the final turn of Lap 3 they were in his wheel tracks, and almost as one they swept by him, in a stunning move on the outside of the home straight, leaving him toiling in their wake, as they powered away to take a maximum advantage that guaranteed them the away win.

Stefan Nielsen and Alex Davies put the icing on the cake in the very next heat, as they too posted a full house of points, which ensured that the Rebels would take all of the league points on offer, back to the West Country. Ryan Douglas took a slight advantage after a level break, leading into the turn. But as he had done earlier Stefan Nielsen flew around the dirt line, squeezing through a narrow gap to pulverise the Scorpions efforts to prevent the Rebels taking home the bacon. Alex Davies took until the end of the opening lap before he went by Douglas, then holding a comfortable second spot until Douglas closed him down on the final turns of the last lap, but he could not find a way to regain the place, whilst Ashley Birks never really got close enough to deliver a blow.

The nominated heat brought Ashley Birks and David Howe to the tapes, with Josh Grajczonek and Jason Doyle providing the opposition. Right from the tape rise Grajczonek was right on the gas, as he led the way to the turn, but Ashley Birks had his measure, and he powered around the widest of lines to lead into the back straight. Howe was next to try his luck, slipping by Grajczonek on the final curves of the opening lap. His tenure in a maximum scoring position was very short lived, with Grajczonek immediately repaying the compliment on the next turn. It wasn’t long before the ‘Townsville Rocket’ was hunting down Birks, and by the final turn of lap 2 he shot past the Yorkshireman to grab the lead, and pull away to take the win. In the meantime Doyle had found his way into third spot, with a neat pass on Howe off the final turn of lap 3, to give the Rebels a 2-4 advantage, as they posted their first ever win at The Eddie Wright Raceway, taking the match by a 19-point margin, 37-56.

It was tremendous all round performance by the Rebels, with every one of the septet pitching in with important points. It was such a superb in depth effort that it would be difficult to single anyone out, but whilst Jason Doyle and Josh Grajczonek topped the charts with 10+2, and 10-points respectively, they were followed up by a tremendous performance by Stefan Nielsen. But for a fall, and subsequent exclusion, Nielsen may very well have eclipsed both of them, as he would almost certainly gone on to win the race, which would have added another three points to his 9+1 haul.

Scunthorpe Scorpions = 37
1. Josh Auty - 1, 3, 3, 1 = 8
2. Thomas Jorgensen – Rider Replacement
3. Michael Palm Toft - F, 0, 1, X, 0 = 1
4. Ashley Birks - 1, 6^, 2*, 1, 0, 2 = 12+1
5. David Howe - 3, 0, 3, 1, 0, 0 = 7
6. Ryan Douglas - 1, 3, 0, 2, 1 = 7
7. Lewis Blackbird - F, 1, 1, X = 2

Somerset Rebels = 56
1. Jason Doyle - 3, 2, 2*, 2*, 1 = 10+2
2. Kyle Newman - 2*, 0, 2, 3 = 7+1
3. Nick Morris - 2*, 2, 1*, 3 = 8+2
4. Alex Davies - 3, 1*, 2, 2* = 8+2
5. Josh Grajczonek - R, 1, 3, 3, 3 = 10
6. Stefan Nielsen - 3, X, 2*, 1, 3 = 9+1
7. Tom Perry - 2*, 2, 0 = 4+1
SCB Referee: Jim Lawrence

Heat Details
Heat 01: Doyle, Newman, Auty, Toft (Fell); awarded (1-5) (1-5)
Heat 02: Nielsen, Perry, Douglas, Blackbird (Fell); 60.34 (1-5) (2-10)
Heat 03: Davies, Morris, Birks, Toft; 59.14 (1-5) (3-15)
Heat 04: Howe, Perry, Blackbird, Grajczonek (Ret); 58.01 (4-2) (7-17)
Heat 05: Birks (Tactical), Doyle, Toft, Newman; 58.07 (7-2) (14-19)
Heat 06: Auty, Birks, Grajczonek, Nielsen (F/ex); 58.31 (5-1) (19-20)
Heat 07: Douglas, Morris, Davies, Howe; 58.44 (3-3) (22-23)
Heat 08: Howe, Newman, Blackbird, Perry; 58.76 (4-2) (26-25)
Heat 09: Grajczonek, Nielsen, Birks, Toft (F/ex); 58.69 (1-5) (27-30)
Heat 10: Auty, Davies, Morris, Douglas; 57.75 (3-3) (30-33)
Heat 11: Newman, Doyle, Howe, Blackbird (F/ex); awarded (1-5) (31-38)
Heat 12: Morris, Douglas, Nielsen, Toft; 58.88 (2-4) (33-42)
Heat 13: Grajczonek, Doyle, Auty, Howe; 57.96 (1-5) (34-47)
Heat 14: Nielsen, Davies, Douglas, Birks; 59.06 (1-5) (35-52)
Heat 15: Grajczonek, Birks, Doyle, Howe; 58.69 (2-4) (37-56)

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