Friday July 19, 2013
An unfamiliar looking Rebels Septet returned to track action at the Oak Tree Arena on Friday evening, following a two week break.

Former Rebel Anders Mellgren deputised for Jason Doyle, who was absent on World Cup duty with Australia, whilst Tom Perry and Stefan Nielsen are still on the injured list, which saw Ben Morley and Paul Starke drafted into the team. The Glasgow side of the pits was also without a big player, in the formidable shape of Joe Screen, whose thumb injury saw him replaced by the entertaining Kozza Smith. There was also another new face in the Ashfield sides line up, as they introduced new signing, and former 80cc World Champion, 19 years old Anders Thomsen for his debut. Glasgow’ season so far has not been one of their finest, and they currently languish at the foot of the Premier League table, with just 5-points to their name, leading many fans to think that this would be a stroll in the park, even for the under strength Rebels, but as often happens, events on the night proved otherwise.

Mellgren got things off to a good start for the home side as he led before the first turn, with new boy Thomsen close up for the Tigers. Thomsen’s time at the head of affairs was short lived as Kozza Smith and Kyle Newman were quickly by, relegating him to last place. However he didn’t let it faze him, and he pressured Newman all the way to the flag, as Mellgren took a comfortable win.

The Tigers were quickly back on terms, taking the reserves heat 2-4, but only after Ben Morley had lead for nearly the whole race. The former Rye House Rocket lived up to the second half of that name as he flew from the gate to lead up, with Joe Jacob and Joey Ringwood packing the places. Jacobs was soon on Morley’s case, and pressured him all the way, until he found some good drive to roar around the outside line to pick off Morley as they completed the penultimate lap. For his part Ringwood easily held Paul Starke for third.

The Rebels looked to have secured a full house of points in Heat 3, as Nick Morris just led from a fairly level break, with Henning Bager following him around the opening turn, before Alex Davies came steaming around the second bend to demote the Dane to third place. That was the way it stayed for most of the race, with the Rebels looking comfortable at the head of affairs, but right against the run of play, Bager suddenly found some speed, and in an almost carbon copy of Jacobs pass in the previous race, he mugged Davies off the final turn to grab second place from the Rebels stand in skipper.

Josh Grajczonek was not happy with his preferred bike in the warm up, so he swapped it for his second option in Heat 4, and his decision paid major dividends for the Townsville flyer. The field may have broken level, but Grajczonek soon had them all back on their heels, as he powered away, pulling clear with every turn of the wheel, leaving one wag to comment that he could have stopped and signed autographs and still won the race. With the Tigers pair of James Grieves and Joe Jacobs packing the places, Paul Starke tried everything he knew to move into third, but he was finally undone when he cut the second turn, appearing to cross the white line with both wheels, and although it didn’t seem to have been noticed by the referee, Starke’s progress was halted as he may have picked up a puncture in the process, and he slowed to crawl across the finish line a long way back.

The Rebels had no answer to Kozza Smith in Heat 5, as bolted from the tapes, leaving the rest of the field in his wake. Alex Davies took up the chase, but in truth he had nothing in his armoury to trouble the Tiger’s stand in Number 1. Nick Morris easily held off Anders Thomsen, as the young Dane explored some of the more far flung places on the OTA track, in his bid to close up on third place.

It would be true to say that James Grieves has never rated the Highbridge circuit as one of his favourites, but his performance in the 2011 Pl Pairs showed that he is capable of turning a score at the OTA, and he reproduced something akin to that has he bolted from the gate to lead up Heat 6. He was followed to the front by Joey Ringwood, and the pair looked to have set up a shock result, until Anders Mellgren went under Ringwood off the final turn, before running wide back to the start line. In the process the pair squeezed up Kyle Newman, who was also delivering a challenge to Ringwood.

The result saw Newman having to take a less than usual line into the first turn, which saw him rune wide in the middle of the turn, with Ringwood on the outside. Whilst there may or may not have been contact between the pair, it seemed and there were many watching fans who had opposing views, it resulted in Ringwood spinning out and hitting the dirt. It was one of those six of one and half a dozen of the other type of incidents, but the referee’s view of this part of the track and this type of incident is always going to favour the rider on the outside, and understandably, although some will not see it that way, the referee excluded Newman. The start of the re-run was a replay of the original, with Grieves away and gone, but this time it was Mellgren in a clear second, and try as he might he had nothing to trouble the Tigers skipper to the flag, leaving the scores level at 18 all, with the predicted hammering somewhere in the distance.

Paul Starke replaced Ben Morley in Heat 7, in a move that many saw as his last ride in view of his opening two efforts; however that point of view was somewhat moot after the riders passed the flag at the end of 4 laps. It was a nervy start, with movement all along the line of riders, but as the tapes rose it appeared that the offenders had only hindered themselves. Josh Grajczonek blasted from the tapes to lead up, with the remaining trio making a ragged break. Starke struck the first blow, as he held veteran Andre Compton’s early challenge in the first two turns, before he powered down the back straight, and headed for the dirt in turn three, and came sailing around the outside of Henning Barger, hard up against the boards, to take up second spot as they ran into the final turn of the lap. Bager gave chase, but had no answer, until he produced a nice cut back of the final turn of the race to close up, but Starke had it all under control, and wasn’t about to give it all up, having ridden four superb laps to give the Rebels a maximum advantage and open up a 4-point lead.

The Tigers weren’t done though, as they hit back in Heat 8, posting a 2-4 advantage, to close up again. The Rebels again switched their reserves, bringing in the fast starting Morley for Starke. Although Morley is a quick starter, he had nothing in the tank to combat the lightning start of the Tigers duo of Anders Thomsen, and Joe Jacobs, and with Kyle Newman floundering at the tapes the pair looked on for a full house. Anyone who watches the Rebels with any regularity will know that Newman is a tenacious character, and he showed it here, as he recovered from his poor start, and came charging after the Tigers pairing. Although he made short work of Jacobs, cruising past him at the end of the opening lap, Thomsen was showing some of the promise that led the Tigers management to sign him in the first place, as he stormed off in front, and leaving the hard working Newman in his wake.

So the half way point had been reached, and the Rebels had only a 2-point advantage to their name, in a tie that had been seen by some as an easy touch, but the Tigers had worked hard and looked a very different side to that seen elsewhere this season, but the Rebels are garnering a reputation this season for toughness in the face of adversity, and can never be discounted to come good when it matters.

Heat 9 saw the Rebels reinstate the 4-point advantage, when Alex Davies matched the rejuvenated James Grieves off the tapes. Davies stormed to the front around the opening turns, and then as they approached the third turn, he cleverly slowed up Grieves, to allow Nick Morris to come charging through into second place. Despite his known dislike for the OTA, Grieves has proved over the years that he is a very good rider, and he displayed that as he steamed back around Morris on the home straight. Morris was back upsides in a flash, and the pair slugged it out over the next three laps, with Morris trying inside and out to regain the place and shake off his man, but Grieves just got the better of Morris, finally shutting him out in the closing stages to limit the Rebels to a 4-2.

The home side pressed the go button in the next heat as they hammered a stake through the Tigers heart just at the right time. Anders Mellgren charged off the tapes to lead before the turn. Kyle Newman was in step with Henning Bager to the turn, but took up second as he powered around the wide line, but Bager had a surprise up his sleeve. Coming off the second turn, the experienced Esbjerg man found some drive off the turn, and carved through the Rebels duo to lead to the third bend. The shocked Rebels put their heads down, and reeled Bager back in, and by the start of the next lap they had shuffled him back into third place, and that was that, effectively race over.

Ben Morley blasted off the tapes in Heat 11, but caught a huge lift before he had gone many yards, as Josh Grajczonek and Kozza Smith disputed the early lead. Grajczonek quickly had Smith’s measure, as the latter ran wide in the opening turns. Although Smith put Grajczonek under pressure, the Rebels man didn’t buckle, holding off his pressing countryman to the flag. Behind the pair Morley had recovered, and was holding third place, until Anders Thomsen came barrelling off the second turn of lap two, and squeezed through the narrowest of gaps between Morley and the back straight fence, taking a share of the points in the process. The shared heat also denied the Tigers an opportunity of using a Tactical ride in Heat 12.

Joe Jacobs replaced Joey Ringwood in Heat 12, in an effort to grab points from the Rebels reserve, Paul Starke. As the tapes rose it was Henning Bager and Nick Morris who contested the lead, with the Tigers man getting the early upper hand. Although he couldn’t rest with Morris on his tail, Bager held off Morris’s probing runs to the flag to take the win. Any early hope of a heat advantage to the visitors disappeared when Paul Starke recovered from a slowish start, and came through to take third in the closing stages of the opening lap.

Any chance the Tigers had of winning the match were firmly put to bed in Heat 13. Anders Mellgren flew off the line to lead up Kozza Smith, with Josh Grajczonek in third place. Grajczonek came with a storming run around the wide line of the opening turns, and cruised past Smith on the back straight to put the Rebels on a 5-1. Smith wasn’t prepared to let it go, and as Grajczonek moved into the lead, he set off after Mellgren. On the second lap he quickly closed the Swede down, and sailed around the dirt line to grab second place coming off the final turn. Over the next two laps he worked hard, slowly reeling Grajczonek in, and by the final turns of the lap he was near to a challenging position, but Grajczonek held all the aces, and he knew where Smith was, and quickly moving out to the wide line he easily blocked any chance the Cessnock man had of talking the win.

Heat 14 saw the Rebels bank all the points in superb style, as they took a full house to close out the match. Alex Davies was quickly away, but was passed on the run to the turn by the fast starting Andre Compton. Compton ran very wide in the opening turn, losing some control, and hampering the Rebels pair of Davies and Starke, leaving Joe Jacobs to come through to lead on the back straight. As they approached the third turn the Rebels had got their act back together, and were pressing Jacobs, one either side of him. With Davies up the inside, and Starke around the boards, Jacobs was swamped, by the Rebels duo, who took up the running into the home straight. Davies let Starke go and dropped in behind to ride shotgun for him. Compton had, by this time, recovered and was hauling in the Rebels pair. He went inside Davies on the opening turn of lap two, but Davies soon restored his second place, and rode a superbly mature race to hold off his charging opponent, and give Paul Starke the honours, as the Rebels shut out the Tigers hopes of taking a point from the encounter.

The only question to be answered now was would Josh Grajczonek settle for a four ride maximum, or would he go for five. That question was rapidly answered as he accompanied Nick Morris to the tapes in the nominated heat. The Tigers unsurprisingly tracked Kozza Smith and James Grieves. When the tapes rose all hope of a 15-point maximum for Grajczonek seemed to be thrown out of the window, as he was last away from the tapes, as the Tigers duo caught the Rebels cold, and led up on a maximum of their own. Before they had gone half a lap the Rebels pair were past Grieves, and Grajczonek was now laying down some beats as he chased after Smith at the front. Inch by inch he reeled in the Tigers stand in, and at the final turn of the second lap, Grajczonek produced a sweet cutback that gave him a long straight run down the home straight, putting him up the inside of Smith in the opening turn of the penultimate lap, to complete his 5 ride maximum, something that appeared totally improbable some 45 seconds earlier. The resulting 4-2 advantage gave the Rebels a 53-37 victory, and all three points, again something that seemed highly unlikely at Heat 8. It was brought about by the Rebels denying the Tigers a heat advantage in the last 7 races, a period in the match where they Rebels ran only one last place.

Despite tracking only 4 regular riders the Rebels had prevailed, due in no small part to all three guest riders playing a good part along the way, and also some great riding by the regular team members, where Alex Davies shone, particularly with his clever Heats 9 and 14 rides, but the star of the show was unquestionably Josh Grajczonek, with his stunning full maximum, topped off by his superb closing last to first ride in Heat 15. Grajczonek’s performance rightly earned him the ‘Rider of the Night’ from meeting sponsors ‘TQ Exel’.

Somerset Rebels = 53

1. Anders Mellgren (G) - 3, 2, 3, 1 = 9
2. Kyle Newman - 1, X, 2, 2* = 5+1
3. Nick Morris - 3, 1*, 1, 2, 1 = 8+1
4. Alex Davies - 1, 2, 3, 2* = 8+1
5. Josh Grajczonek - 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 15
6. Ben Morley (G) - 2, 0, 0 = 2
7. Paul Starke (G) - 0, 0, 2*, 1*, 3 = 6+2

Glasgow Tigers = 37

1. Kozza Smith (G) - 2, 3, 2, 2, 2 = 11
2. Anders Thomsen - 0, 0, 3, 1* = 4+1
3. Henning Bager - 2, 1, 1, 3 = 7
4. Andre Compton - 0, 0, 0, 1 = 1
5. James Grieves - 2, 3, 2, 0, 0 = 7
6. Joey Ringwood - 1, 1, 0 = 2
7. Joe Jacobs - 3, 1*, 1, 0, 0 = 5+1

SCB Referee: Christina Turnbull

Heat Details

Heat 01: Mellgren, Smith, Newman, Thomsen (4-2) (4-2) 58.88
Heat 02: Jacobs, Morley, Ringwood, Starke (2-4) (6-6) 60.00
Heat 03: Morris, Bager, Davies, Compton (4-2) (10-8) 58.38
Heat 04: Grajczonek, Grieves, Jacobs, Starke (3-3) (13-11) 58.19
Heat 05: Smith, Davies, Morris, Thomsen (3-3) (16-14) 58.22
Heat 06: Re run: Grieves, Mellgren, Ringwood, Newman (ex (2-4) (18-18) ) 59.65
Heat 07: Grajczonek, Starke, Bager, Compton (5-1) (23-19) 58.69
Heat 08: Thomsen, Newman, Jacobs, Morley (2-4) (25-23) 58.47
Heat 09: Davies, Grieves, Morris, Ringwood (4-2) (29-25) 58.22
Heat 10: Mellgren, Newman, Bager, Compton (5-1) (34-26) 59.27
Heat 11: Grajczonek, Smith, Thomsen, Morley (3-3) (37-29) 59.28
Heat 12: Bager, Morris, Starke, Jacobs (3-3) (40-32) 59.56
Heat 13: Grajczonek, Smith, Mellgren, Grieves (4-2) (44-34) 59.74
Heat 14: Starke, Davies, Compton, Jacobs (5-1) (49-35) 59.99
Heat 15: Grajczonek, Smith, Morris, Grieves (4-2) (53-37) 59.50

Photos courtest of COLIN BURNETT

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