Friday August 09, 2013
The fans from both sides came out in force to see this league encounter between the ‘Case’s Somerset Rebels’ and West Country rivals, the Plymouth Devils.

The Devils side that arrived for tonight’s renewal was very different side from the one that took to the Oak Tree Arena shale in April for the League Cup tie. Only Mark Lemon and Todd Kurtz remained from the original septet, and although Cory Gathercole is still part of the Devils set up, his season is over following knee and shoulder injuries, and his place in the line up was taken by Rider Replacement. The new faces include the amazing signing of Danish teenage sensation. Mikkel Bech Jensen (Mikkel Bech), who has had previous Elite League experience with the Swindon Robins, was part of the 2012 World Team Cup winning Danish team, and in 2011 was the youngest ever Grand Prix participant when he posted 2-points riding in the 2011 Danish Speedway Grand Prix at the Parken Stadium. Another promising Dane, Rasmus Jensen, Hynek Stichauer and Jake Anderson take up the remaining places left by those who have departed the Devils septet.

The Rebels have recently been in exceptional form, posting massive wins against the Redcar Bears, and the Workington Comets, both riding high in the Premier League table at the time. The Devils have been having something of a torrid time, losing five of their eight home matches. However they have picked up two wins on the road, at Rye House and Workington respectively, so no one at Somerset were taking things for granted, and with Todd Kurtz back at reserve, the Devils were expected to be tough opponents.

One Tuesday Jason Doyle suffered a frustrating evening, when electrical problems blighted his evening, and curtailed his usual prolific scoring. As the tapes rose for Heat 1, all of those issues just melted way when he just eased in front of Mark Lemon after a level break. For his part Lemon, who took the rider replacement ride, narrowly beat Kyle Newman into the turn. From the first turn Doyle streaked away to take an easy victory from Lemon, whilst Newman rode well to comfortably hold Mikkel Bech, whose first look at the Oak Tree Arena circuit had been from the rear of the field, following a slow start.

On Tuesday the reserves had suffered a maximum defeat in their first race, but they easily put that right in Heat 2. Stefan Nielsen and Todd Kurtz broke together, but it was Nielsen who emerged from the first bend in front. Jake Anderson led up Simon Lambert, but the Rebels new boy worked his socks off to rectify that, and was up the inside of his Plymouth counterpart on the third turn. Anderson repelled that challenge, but he could not stop Lambert’s irresistible outside charge as they negotiated the opening turns of the second lap. As Nielsen charged away at the front, Lambert consolidated his third place, as the Rebels took their second successive 4-2 advantage on the night.

Of late Nick Morris and Alex Davies have been building something of a reputation as the Rebels ‘Maximum Men’ after posting a series of 5-1 advantages over their opponents, and they continued in that vein here. Alex Davies bolted from the gate, and led before the opening curve, with Hynek Stichauer and Rasmus Jensen beating Nick Morris to the drop. They may have beaten Morris from the tapes, but neither had the pace to match Morris’s powerful outside run through the turns, and by the back straight Morris was upsides Davies at the head of affairs. He soon moved into the lead, and with Davies sitting on his inside, the pair team rode the Devils into submission. With the Rebels duo now in the wind, Stichauer retired on the second circuit, leaving Jensen looking at the back of the fast disappearing Rebels, who took the flag a long way clear.

Having quickly built up an 8-point advantage, the Rebels found their scoring somewhat curtailed over the next couple of heats, as the Devils shared the heat points, but did not provide a winner. Heat 4 saw a level break by all but Simon Lambert. Mark Lemon was first to show, with Josh Grajczonek and Jake Anderson following up. Grajczonek was soon Lemons case, chasing him down and showing up his inside into the third turn. Lemon prevailed as Grajczonek moved out wide, but approaching the third turn again, he repeated the inside move, with the same result as the previous lap. Once again on lap three Grajczonek delivered his challenge in the same way, and once more Lemon held him off. For the fourth time the Rebels man moved out wide, but this time as they approached the third turn, Grajczonek had wound up his machine, and stayed out wide, charged down the back straight, and flashed through the narrowest of gaps in a stunning move between Lemon and the fence as they approached the third turn. Once in front it was race over, and the points were shared.

Hynek Stichauer took the replacement ride in Heat 4, but it was Mikkel Bech who bolted from the tapes to lead up from Nick Morris, whilst Alex Davies got an awful start out of Gate 3, and was stone last into the turn. Morris was soon laying down a charge, and had caught and passed Bech by the first turn. Bech was not up for letting him go, and by the back straight he was upsides again, but Morris had the better line into the turn, and put daylight between himself and Bech as they moved to complete the lap. From the start of the second lap, Morris sealed deal and pulled away from Bech to take a comfortable win, whilst Alex Davies never recovered from his tardy getaway, and could never get into the race, as the Devils filled the places.

The respite was a brief one for the Devils, as the Rebels returned to full throttle in the next heat. Jason Doyle got the better of another level break, blazing to the front as they reached the opener. Mark Lemon was his victim on this occasion, and as they entered the turn, Doyle clamped him hard onto the kerb, allowing the close up Kyle Newman an unmolested run around the outside to demote Lemon to third place before they reached the back straight. Doyle fully took up the running on the back straight, and the further they went the further he increased his lead, and with Newman doing the same to Lemon for second place, the pair streaked clear of their rivals to record the Rebels second full house of the night.

It seemed to be a night for level breaks, as the very next heat witnessed another. This time it was Josh Grajczonek who just edged the lead into the bend, but the Devils pair of Rasmus Jensen and Hynek Stichauer were close up. Grajczonek held off another challenge from Stichauer down the back straight, but the Czech rider did not have the pace to see it through, and it was Jensen who later took up the chase, but again to no avail. Meanwhile Stefan Nielsen was laying down a strong run, and closing on the now third placed Stichauer. He was in place to throw down a challenge to Stichauer by the third turn of the second lap, but couldn’t find a route by. Pushing hard, he charged down the back straight of the next lap, and dived into the gap his opponent had left as they entered the third turn, and dismissed Stichauer with the sweetest of inside passes, that left the Devils man toiling in Nielsen’s wake.

Heat 8 saw Todd Kurtz take not only the replacement ride, but a tactical as well, as he came to the post wearing the ‘Black and White’. He was eager to make the tactical work, and made an outrageous jump at the tapes, which saw him a bike length up before anyone else moved, and was immediately called back by referee, Dave Robinson. In the restart Simon Lambert made a stunning getaway, and easily led the field into the turn. Kyle Newman was last away and trapped behind Kurtz and his partner Jake Anderson. Kurtz closed on Lambert, and careered up his inside as they entered the final turn of the lap. The pair came into contact with each other, and it was Lambert who suffered the most, as he got well out of shape, and in the blink of an eye, found himself firmly at the rear. With Devils now heading for a full house tactical 8-1 advantage, Kyle Newman finally got into top gear, and charged after Anderson. Winding up his machine, he moved out wide, and by lap three he was sitting on Anderson as they ran down the back straight. Not content with just second place, he blazed around the wide line, and in one flowing move, passed first Anderson, and then Kurtz, before they got back to the home straight, to take a dazzling win, limiting the damage to a 3-5 advantage to the visitors.

The Rebels quickly added to their lead in Heat 9, as Alex Davies blew away from the line to lead before the curve, with Mark Lemon and Todd Kurtz filling the places. Nick Morris was last away, but was winding it on, and blasted between the Devils duo as they approached the opening turn, to join Davies in the vanguard. As far as a competitive event was concerned, that was race over, and the Rebels pair just moved serenely away to a bloodless victory and their second maximum advantage from three outings.

Rasmus Jensen made a superb start, but his progress was halted by a big lift after the start, allowing Kyle Newman to lead into the turn from Jensen and Hynek Stichauer. Jason Doyle had made an appalling start from Gate 3, but stunned his rivals, as he cruised around the outside of the whole field in the final two turns of the lap. As Doyle made his way home, Newman and Jensen were locked in a tight battle for second place. The pair passed and re-passed over the second lap, before the young Dane prevailed to take second place.

Mikkel Bech came to the tapes for Heat 11, wearing the ‘Black and White’ colours that signified a tactical ride. However as the tapes rose a tactical win for Bech seemed as far away as his homeland. Stefan Nielsen and Josh Grajczonek trapped ahead on Bech, and in the first turn, Grajczonek came over the top and clamped him hard onto the kerb, allowing Nielsen to escape to the front, but Bech was on their tails. As he pressed hard, Grajczonek rode shotgun to Nielsen and held off Bech for the first lap, but he was hard pressed and Bech soon found a way through his inside down the back straight, and into the third turn of lap two. Switching outside Bech charged down Nielsen’s lead, and powered to the front off the final turn of lap three, but it almost turned to disaster as he caught a huge lift off the turn. Bech quickly and skilfully had the bike down and running again, and pulled out a gap between himself and Nielsen. Nielsen never gave up the chase, but could not get back on terms, as Bech converted his win into 6-points, with Grajczonek taking second late on.

With the Rebels 15-points to the good, the Devils still had a mathematical chance of taking the tie, so anything other than a 5-1 to the visitors in Heat 12 would see the Rebels take the win, but they had their sights set on all three league points, which would lift them to fourth place in the table. As the tapes rose the writing was on the wall for the visitors, as Nick Morris and Simon Lambert rocketed off the line to lead into the turn ahead of Rasmus Jensen. Nick Morris moved well clear, as Lambert held the challenge of Jensen. Jensen wound on the throttle and by the back straight of the third lap, he was on terms with Lambert, and moving outside he put down a good run around the final turns of the lap, to grab second spot from the hard working Lambert, but the Rebels put the match beyond the Devils.

There was still the matter of the full amount of points to be won, and the Rebels banked those after a share of the points in Heat 13. As Jason Doyle bolted from the tapes, the Gate 3 hoodoo struck Josh Grajczonek, when he crawled off the line. Doyle pulled clear to take an easy victory, as Grajczonek tried everything he knew to at least salvage a point from his disastrous start. He tried all lines, inside and out, but couldn’t find a route past Mark Lemon, as Mikkel Bech took the runner up spot.

Heat 14 took two attempts to start, as the first was abandoned with two riders sat on the line as the other two streaked away. Jake Anderson was experience some problems with his machine, and raised his hand before the start. Seeing this Stefan Nielsen pulled back from the tapes, however Dave Robinson let them go, but immediately put on the red lights, calling the other two back. In the restart it was Davies who blasted from the line in front of the field, with Hynek Stichauer and Stefan Nielsen both close up. Davies cruised away from his pursuers, leaving them to battle out second spot. Nielsen was soon upsides Stichauer, and tested Stichauer’s resolve down the back straight. The Devils new boy, signed only this week, toughed it out, and held off the Rebels reserve. Nielsen switched out wide, and renewed his chase, but could never quite get back into a challenging position. On the closing lap he came with a big run off the final turns, but fell short at the flag, as the Rebels banked another advantage.

On Tuesday, Jason Doyle frustrating evening had meant that he missed the nominated heat, but tonight his undefeated tally had meant that he was an unopposed choice, and it was the other unbeaten Rebels rider, Nick Morris, who came to the tapes alongside his skipper. The Devils nominated their Danish contingent, with Mikkel Bech and Rasmus Jensen coming to the line. Jensen blasted from the tapes to show first, but was quickly overhauled by Morris as they ran to the turn. Doyle was slowly away, and found himself the meat in the sandwich on the first turn. It all got very tight, and as Doyle tried to make progress, Bech hit the dirt, and the red lights were on in a flash. All four were sent back to the tapes, and as they rose, it was Bech who showed first with a lightning start. Doyle was on him very quickly, and powered past him on the run to the curve. Morris was last away, but by the third turn he was blasting the outside line, and sailed past Jensen out of the last bend. He set off in pursuit of Bech, and a lap later he was repeating his earlier Jensen move on Bech, as he was cleverly held up by Doyle. On the final turn he squeezed past Bech in a very tight move against the fence, but once in second spot it was race over for the Devils, and the home side ran out winners by a 59-36 margin.

What at first appeared to be a tough encounter, had turned into a comfortable win over the Devils, without the Rebels having to really extend themselves. Once again the strength in depth of the team had shone through, and everyone contributed to the win. Jason Doyle (15-points) and Nick Morris (14+1) had topped the score charts, but in truth this was another all round solid team performance by the Rebels, and they had prevailed by another big score. Jason Doyle took the ‘Rider of the Night’ award, from Meeting sponsors Burnside Accountants. Burnside are also Alex Davies’s sponsors, and also marked his paid maximum in Tuesday’s meeting, with a special award for him.

The Rebels will be looking to take this special run of form into tonight’s (Saturday) return fixture at the St Boniface Arena, with the aim of taking the win, and adding to the pot for their push to the top of the table, and in this kind of form anything is possible.

Somerset – 59

1. Jason Doyle - 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 = 15
2. Kyle Newman - 1, 2*, 3, 1 = 7+1
3. Nick Morris 3, 3, 3, 3, 2* = 14+1
4. Alex Davies - 2*, 0, 2*, 3 = 7+2
5. Josh Grajczonek - 3, 3, 2, 0 = 8
6. Stefan Nielsen - 3, 1, 1*, 1 = 6+1
7. Simon Lambert - 1, 0, 0, 1 = 2

Plymouth – 36

1. Mikkel Bech - 0, 2, 6^, 2, 1 = 11
2. Cory Gathercole – Rider Replacement
3. Rasmus Jensen - 1, 2, 2, 2, 0 = 7
4. Hynek Stichauer - R, 1*, 0, 0, 2 = 3+1
5. Mark Lemon - 2, 2, 1, 1, 1* = 7+1
6. Todd Kurtz - 2, 0, 4^, 0, 0 = 6
7. Jake Anderson - 0, 1*, 1*, 0, 0 = 2+2

SCB Referee: Dave Robinson

Heat Details:

Heat 01: Doyle, Lemon, Newman, Bech (4-2) (4-2) 58.12
Heat 02: Nielsen, Kurtz, Lambert, Anderson (4-2) (8-4) 58.78
Heat 03: Morris, Davies, Jensen, Stichauer ret (5-1) (13-5) 58.12
Heat 04: Grajczonek, Lemon, Anderson, Lambert (3-3) (16-8) 58.47
Heat 05: Morris, Bech, Stichauer, Davies (3-3) (19-11) 58.31
Heat 06: Doyle, Newman, Lemon, Kurtz (5-1) (24-12) 57.35
Heat 07: Grajczonek, Jensen, Nielsen, Stichauer (4-2) (28-14) 58.06
Heat 08: (Re-run) Newman, Kurtz (tactical), Anderson, Lambert (3-5) (31-19) 58.94
Heat 09: Morris, Davies, Lemon, Kurtz (5-1) (36-20) 58.06
Heat 10: Doyle, Jensen, Newman, Stichauer (4-2) (40-22) 58.44
Heat 11: Bech (tactical), Grajczonek, Nielsen, Anderson (3-6) (43-28) 58.72
Heat 12: Morris, Jensen, Lambert, Kurtz (4-2) (47-30) 58.63
Heat 13: Doyle, Bech, Lemon, Grajczonek (3-3) (50-33) 58.57
Heat 14: (Re-run) Davies, Stichauer, Nielsen, Anderson (4-2) (54-35) 59.25
Heat 15: (Re-run) Doyle, Morris, Bech, Jensen (5-1) (59-36) 58.72

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