Friday June 28, 2013
If ever a match defined a team’s strength of character, bravery, and pure bloody minded will to win it was this one.

The ‘Case’s Somerset Rebels’, already a man down from their normal septet, did not even complete one heat before losing Kyle Newman to a freak injury. Then two heats later, they faced the prospect of completing the remainder of the meeting, against a strong looking Newcastle Diamonds side, not only without Newman, but also with Alex Davies potentially having suffered a major injury from a horror crash, after being thrown from his machine, over the safety fencing, and into the exclusion zone on the back straight, landing some 30 metres from the point his bike connected with the fence.

The eagerly anticipated meeting went to the starting gate with the mouth watering prospect of a titanic battle between two sides vying for the 2013 league title, but no one could have guessed what was about to unfold when the light turned green. What transpired was an evening of eager anticipation, shock, horror, despair, joy, and what can only be described as one of the best adverts for speedway, seen for many a day.

When the tapes rose for heat 1, Jason Doyle just bettered Christian Henry to the turn. Behind Kyle Newman was up the inside of Stuart Robson as they entered the turn. Robson and Newman were very tight, and Robson fell, stopping the race, as the referee declared a re-run. All seemed well, but the observant amongst the crowd may have seen Newman clutching his leg, and when he reached the pit gate, he dismounted, and immediately fell to the ground. It seems that in the hurled burley of the opening turn, Newman’s right foot had become entangled in Robson’s front wheel, causing the fall of the Diamond top man, and sending Newman to the medical room with a broken bone in his foot, and associated tissue damage, all of which forced the Weymouth man’s withdrawal from the remainder of the meeting.

In the restart, Jason Doyle bolted from the gate, leading up Christian Henry before the turn. Henry never let Doyle get too far away, but could never get on terms, meanwhile behind the pair Tom Perry, deputising for Newman, had slipped inside Robson at the opener, and proceeded to ride a superb race to hold off the experience Diamond to the flag.

Things got even better for Perry in the reserves heat, as he flew from the tapes, matching the newly appointed Chris Schramm to the turn, with Lewis Rose, in for the injured Stefan Nielsen, close up. Rose put in a superb opening bend, ensuring Lewis Kerr would have to go the longest route around if he wanted Rose’s place. Perry pulled well clear of Schramm, whilst Rose displayed fantastic battling qualities to repel the inevitable race long strong challenge from the charging Kerr, giving the Rebels a 4-point overall lead.

Heat 3 opened with a flying Alex Davies start, which was a little too fast for match referee, Phil Griffin. Start number two saw Nick Morris take the first strides from the tapes, and although Davies wasn’t badly away, he became the meat in a Diamonds sandwich, and was shuffled to the back off the first curve. Unperturbed Davies showed blinding speed to run down and pass Andrew Tully on the widest of lines on Bend 3. He still had a deal of ground to make up, but laid down some serious beats to close up the gap between himself and Ludvig Lindgren. By lap three he was in a challenging position, and the gap was closing rapidly as they entered the second turn.

As they exited, and with Davies up Lindgren’s tailpipe, his machine picked up strong drive, and reared into the air in a flash, careering towards the fence. Events progressed so quickly that Davies had no time to react, or get off the bike, and it slammed full tilt into the fence. The sudden halt in momentum propelled Davies over the top of his handle bars, as he somersaulted onto the top of the safety fence, some 10 metres from his departure point, before flying another 20 or so metres down the back straight, landing in the exclusion zone, and narrowly missing a light stanchion in the process. Help reached him in a matter of seconds, and it would be fair to say that, understandably, he did not look or sound in a very good state, with many fearing the worse. Apart from spectators close to him, one of the first on the scene was Jason Doyle, as he had been Kyle Newman went to ground in Heat 1. The medical staff worked on Davies for what seemed an eternity, but was in fact probably 15 minutes, before he miraculously regained his feet, eventually walking back to the pits, and medical room, clutching his wrist. With his exclusion confirmed, the Diamond shared the points. Shortly afterwards he was announced as the second Rebels to withdraw from the meeting on the night, leaving the Rebels fans in despair, realising the enormity of trying to hold the strong Diamonds side at bay with half a team.

One thing that had been demonstrated in recent years is the Rebels willingness to knuckle down and fight when the going gets tough, and this occasion only went to re-enforce that notion, however things did not get off to a good start. Josh Grajczonek missed the break and found himself behind recent Rebels guest, Lewis Kerr, and the highly rated Richie Worrall., who had slipped through the inside on bend one, before demoting his partner to second place. Grajczonek got his machine running and by the back straight on Lap 2 he was on Kerr, and had passed him by turn 3, before chasing down Worrall, but not quite getting there. Meanwhile, Tom Perry was harrying Kerr for all he was worth, but could not find a route into the points.

The Diamonds levelled the scores in Heat 5, but not before Nick Morris had looked to have stolen a march at the tapes. Just leading into the first turn, he was looking to keep the Rebels in a position of retaining a slender advantage, but Stuart Robson had other ideas on that matter. He stormed around the wide line of the opening turn, before swooping into the lead on the back straight. Lewis Rose, who was deputising for crash victim Alex Davies, worked himself into a challenging position on the second turn of the second lap, but as he came onto the back wheel of Christian Henry, he locked up, and then compounded the error by running wide off the penultimate lap of the race, and his chance was gone.

The honours were shared in Heat 6, as Jason Doyle rocketed off the line to lead all the way, and win with some ease from Chris Schramm. However all the action was behind the pair, as Tom Perry got the better of Richie Worrall, with a big outside run of the final two turns of the lap, and then riding superbly well to lead him for the vast majority of the race, until Worrall got the better of him with a wide run of his own, as Perry took a slightly narrower line in the final throws of the race.

With the scores tied, and the home side seemingly at the Diamonds mercy, the Rebels produced a stunning 5-1 advantage, not just in the timing of it, but also the manner of the victory. Josh Grajczonek blasted from the tapes, to lead up from Andrew Tully, Ludvig Lindgren and the fast starting Lewis Rose. For his part, Rose rode a fantastic race, first of all holding the hard charging Lindgren on the opening turn, and then flying down the back straight to power around the outside of Tully. Lindgren was the one to give chase, but no matter what he hit the Kings Lynn youngster with, Rose had the answer, and as he crossed the line the crowd erupted into unrestrained cheers as the Rebels banked their first maximum of the night.

The home fans joy was short lived, as in Heat 8 the Diamonds replied with a full house of their own. Rose was out again, and despite a good start, he found himself clamped tight to the kerb by the equally fast starting Diamonds duo of Christian Henry and Lewis Kerr. As far race went, that was it in a nutshell, even with a late burst from Tom Perry after he had recovered from a tardy start, to come with a belated challenge.

The Rebels were clearly not downcast, despite their tribulations, immediately hitting back, and adding their second maximum in thee heats. More remarkable than the actual victory, was the winner of the race. Despite missing his second ride, Alex Davies came to tapes, something hinted at in an earlier interview with Jason Doyle. Doyle had said that notwithstanding the severity of the crash, Davies appeared not to have broken anything, and although he had missed his second ride, and been announced as a withdrawal, Davies had sent a message that he was not out of the meeting yet, and so it proved.

Davies matched Richie Worrall at the gate, and the pair headed into the turn together. Davies may have been forgiven for being a little tentative in the opening turn, given the brutality of his crash, but not a bit of it, as he stormed to the front at the first turn, before seeing Worrall cruise into the lead on the back straight. Davies was having none of it, and on the next lap, he was up the inside of Worrall on the first turn. The pair slugged it out, swapping places as they went, before Davies engineered a move, forcing Worrall out to the wide line, and not only sealing his own win, but creating a huge window of opportunity for his partner Nick Morris, who greedily gobbled up the invitation, with a superb cut back under Worrall, with just one lap to go, restoring the home sides 4-point lead in the process.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the next three shared heats were a bit of a yawn, although nothing could be further from the truth.

Jason Doyle fell out of the traps in heat 10, and found himself languishing at the rear after the first turn, along with Tom Perry. From the back straight he started to turn up the gas, and in one lap he was making his first pass, as he came with a wet sail on a very wide line to account for Ludvig Lindgren off the second bend. He wasn’t content with just the one place, and charged after Andrew Tully, and cutting back onto the back straight he was by the former Edinburgh man. Tully wasn’t going to give up the lead easily, and repaid the move on the very next bend, but Doyle had seen it coming, and from his position out by the fence, he turned hard back inside, and completely kippered Tully, as they ran into the home straight to start the third lap. Tully would not lie down, and tried to emulate his early move, only to find the Rebels skipper had anticipated his attack, and clamped him hard to the kerb in the opening bend of Lap 3, ending the Manxman’s challenge, and sharing the points.

Heat 11 was called back, as Stuart Robson appeared to get a flyer, closely followed Christian Henry. In the restart it was the Rebels pair of Josh Grajczonek and Lewis Rose who showed first. Grajczonek went on to take up the running, as Robson passed Rose off the third turn of the lap. Rose came back at him immediately, and grabbed back the place with a swoop out wide on the next bend, before Robson again went into second place down the home straight and into the first turn of lap 2. Rose held his place until lap three, when Henry came on the scene, getting up Rose’s inside on the final bend of the lap, and although challenging back Rose could not regain the place. He had ridden well, but succumbed to a little inexperience, getting caught on the wrong line, after doing all the hard work early on.

Rose was back in the thick of things in the very next race, and whatever he was doing, he was clearly causing some consternation amongst some of the Diamonds riders. Nick Morris made a blinding start, shooting to the front from the get go. Rose had made another good start, but received short shrift from Andrew Tully in the opening turn, collecting a large dose of elbow for his troubles. With Morris and Chris Schramm long gone, Rose hunted down his antagonist, drawing level on the third circuit. Although he got on terms, the greater experience of Tully saw him home, but not without a struggle.

Heat thirteen saw the Rebels virtually put the meeting to bed, but as the tapes rose, that scenario was the most unlikely outcome. Jason Doyle was lightening off the gate, and was soon in the wind, with Stuart Robson and Richie Worrall filling the places. Josh Grajczonek was stuck at the rear, and despite challenging on the back straight could not make any immediate progress. On the second lap he changed out to the wide lines, and started to apply the pressure, and a lap later he was moving smoothly by Worrall. Not content with that he roared after Robson, coming with a huge run down the outside, and as the Sunderland born rider covered the move, Grajczonek produced the sweetest cut back imaginable, and glided up the inside of the totally outfoxed Robson as they entered the final lap of the race, giving the Rebels a 43-35 lead with just two heats remaining.

Heat 14 saw the Rebels home, as the shared heat took them beyond 45-points, so now it was just a case of whether they would take all the points available. The field had broken fairly level, with only Lewis Kerr not right in the mix. Ludvig Lindgren led at the opening curve, with Alex Davies applying the pressure. Davies moved into the lead with an inside move on the last two turns of the lap. Tom Perry was soon making his bid to take the Rebels home with all the points, as he too pressurised Lindgren. The Swede held on to his place, but Perry was still hunting for a bigger share of the points when disaster struck, in the shape of a dropped chain on the penultimate bend of Lap 3, leaving the Diamonds with an unexpected points share.

From a position of total despair after heat 3, the ‘Case’s Somerset Rebels’ were now on the point of taking all the available points, and sending dangerous opponents home with their tails between their legs, and they only needed to avoid giving up a heat advantage to do so. Not only did they do that, but they did it in a style that typified their approach to the match following the tribulations of Heats 1 and 3.

Heat 15 saw Jason Doyle and Josh Grajczonek take to the track, with Stuart Robson and Christian Henry representing the visitors. From the instant the tapes rose the result was never in doubt, as Doyle and his fellow Premier League Pairs Champion hurtled off the gate, with Doyle leading up, before Grajczonek took to the wide line to join him at the front. The only change was in track position, with Doyle switching wide, as Grajczonek nipped inside, until it was clear that the Diamonds did not offer a challenge, when he too took to the outside, and looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself out in the dirt. The final outcome was a 12-point win, 51-39, for the Rebels, something that could not have been imagined at the start of Heat 4.

News on Kyle Newman is that he has broken a small bone in his foot, and suffered some soft tissue damage, but if all goes well he is expecting to be back next week, unless any complications occur.

There is little else to say, other than it was a stunning victory from a position of apparent hopelessness after Alex Davies’ exit over the fence. For the man himself, not only to get on his feet after an accident of huge proportions, but to come back out, and win his last two rides, not only to win them, but to do it in such dazzling fashion, is nothing short of heroic. Having said that Davies was not the only hero on display, the whole team deserves a medal for the way they dug in and battled to the end to produce the victory no one expected. Their feat was recognised, when in an unheard of gesture, the whole team was awarded the ‘Rider of the Night’ accolade from the meeting sponsors.

Somerset = 51
1. Jason Doyle 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 15
2. Kyle Newman N = 0 Withdrawn
3. Nick Morris 3, 2, 2', 3 = 10+1
4. Alex Davies Flx, DNS, 3, 3 = 6
5. Josh Grajczonek 2, 3, 3, 2', 2' = 12+2
6. Tom Perry 1, 3, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0 = 5
7. Lewis Rose 1, 0, 2', 0, 0, 0 = 3+1

Newcastle = 39
1. Stuart Robson 0, 3, 2, 1, 1 = 7
2. Christian Henry 2, 1, 3, 1', 0 = 7+1
3. Andrew Tully 1', 0, 2, 1' = 4+2
4. Ludvig Lindgren 2, 1, 1', 2 = 6+1
5. Richie Worrall 3, 1', 1, 0 = 5+1
6. Chris Schramm 2, 2, 0, 2 = 6
7. Lewis Kerr 0, 1, 2', 1' = 4+2

Newcastle win toss take 1 and 3

Heat Results
Heat 01: (Re-run) Robson, Henry, Perry, Robson (4-2) (4-2) 58.60
Heat 02: Perry, Schramm, Rose, Kerr (4-2) (8-4) 59.07
Heat 03: (Re-run) Morris, Lindgren, Tully, Davies fx (3-3) (11-7) Awarded
Heat 04: Worrall, Grajczonek, Kerr, Perry (2-4) (13-11) 59.22
Heat 05: Robson, Morris, Henry, Rose (2-4) (15-15) 59.20
Heat 06: Doyle, Schramm, Worrall, Perry (3-3) (18-18) 59.25
Heat 07: Grajczonek, Rose, Lindgren, Tully (5-1) (23-19) 59.30
Heat 08: Henry, Kerr, Perry, Rose (1-5) (24-24) 58.97
Heat 09: Davies, Morris, Worrall, Schramm (5-1) (29-25) 58.81
Heat 10: Doyle, Tully, Lindgren, Perry (3-3) (32-28) 59.18
Heat 11: (Re-run) Grajczonek, Robson, Henry, Rose (3-3) (35-31) 59.56
Heat 12: Morris, Schramm, Tully, Rose (3-3) (38-34) 59.59
Heat 13: Doyle, Grajczonek, Robson, Worrall (5-1) (43-35) 58.57
Heat 14: Davies, Lindgren, Kerr, Perry (3-3) (46-38) 59.28
Heat 15: (Re-run) Doyle, Grajczonek, Robson, Henry (5-1) (51-39) 59.34

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