speedway track's big Sky TV night draws crowds
Sports brought their TV cameras to Highbridge's Oak Tree Arena
on Tuesday (August 11th) and broadcast a victory by the Edinburgh
visiting side produced a stunning victory, ending the day nine
points to the good with a 42-51 win in front of a big crowd in
the evening sunshine.
rider replacement for the still injured former Rebel, Sam Masters,
the Monarchs hit the ground running, as they quickly built up
an early lead they were not to lose.
lead came courtesy of some rapid gating, and the ability to give
their Number One Craig Cook three rides by Heat 5.
Cook capitalised with two wins from his programmed rides, plus
a win in the first rider replacement opportunity.
the tapes rose on Heat 1, Cook, and another former Somerset rider,
Justin Sedgmen, bolted from the gates, with Sedgmen hitting the
first bend in the lead. Down the back straight, Cook took up the
running, and the pair started to pull away from Leigh Lanham and
Brady Kurtz, who were struggling behind. With time running out,
the home pairing didnt help their cause by seemingly hampering
each other in their efforts to close the gap, and were unable
to make any impression into the Monarchs race lead.
Rebels looked to have pulled back some of the opening race deficit
when Paul Starke produced a rocket start to hit the front from
the tapes, with Ollie Greenwood not far behind. Out of the turn,
Max Clegg came up Greenwoods inside, and as they raced around
the third turn, Greenwood clipped Cleggs rear wheel, unsettling
him, and allowing Robert Branford up his inside. Racing back to
the straight, Branford moved Greenwood wide, demoted him to the
rear. Meanwhile Starke raced clear, and the race played out to
a share of the points.
Wright lifted off the gate in Heat 3, handing the early initiative
to the Monarchs pair of Kevin Wolbert & Erik Riss. Riss appeared
in front at the turn, with Wolbert following on. Meanwhile Wright
was making up the lost ground, coming with a strong run at the
opening turns of the next lap; he soon had Wolbert in his sights.
Swooping off the second bend, Wright took up the chase on Riss,
who was now speeding away at the front. Try as he might he couldnt
close him down, and even had to fend off a renewed challenge from
Wolbert, before posting a second place at the flag. Richie Worrall
never got into a challenging position after a tardy start.
John Campbell hammered home the Monarchs early dominance, with
the introduction of Craig Cook for the first rider replacement
spot in Heat 4. The move paid dividends as the Monarchs top man
flew from the line to power around the fast starting Paul Starke
in the opening curves. Garry May had brought in Paul Starke to
bolster up the reserve spot, and the move was rewarded as he did
the job of beating his counterpart Robert Branford, and providing
the Rebels with a much needed point. Josh Grajczonek moved to
second spot off the final turn of the lap, but Cook was long gone,
streaking to the second fastest time of the season, as the Rebels
packed the places.
Rebels made a flying start to Heat 5, leading to the bend on a
5-1, only for Christina Turnbull to call them back and warn Richie
Worrall for moving at the start. In the restart, inevitably it
was the Monarchs, in the form of the speedy Craig Cook, who made
the best getaway. Charles Wright narrowly beat Justin Sedgmen
to second place, but had to be at his best to fend off the swarming
Sedgmen for all four laps. Richie Worrall put in an early challenge
to the Edinburgh second string, but made no impression as his
efforts fizzled out, leaving the Monarchs a further 2-points to
next four heats were shared, as the Rebels struggled to make inroads
into the visitors lead. A fairly level break in Heat 6 saw Kevin
Wolbert, taking the rider replacement; emerge from the second
turn in front, with Leigh Lanham and Brady Kurtz filling the places.
Lanham made an effort up the inside of the German at the third
bend, but he was shrugged off as Wolbert powered away on the wide
line. Kurtz was building up a head of steam after his slow start,
and came around Lanham on the second lap. Chasing Wolbert hard,
he tried to make ground, but the truth was that the Monarchs man
was using the fastest line to his advantage, easily holding his
lead to the finish.
Grajczonek shot off the start line to lead all the way, with Erik
Riss and Kevin Wolbert packing the places. Ollie Greenwood came
into Heat 7 for Paul Starke, and was not too far away at the turn.
He shot up the inside of the opening turns, pressing Wolbert for
third, but once again a Rebels rider found a determined Monarch
in his path, as his challenge was nullified. Riss gave chase,
but could never get close to the flying Rebels skipper.
Starke was the opposite Rebels reserve switch in Heat 8, and the
early indications were that it was a move to produce the goods.
Starke careered off the start to lead to the turn, with Leigh
Lanham and Justin Sedgmen battling for second place. At the turn,
Sedgmen shook off Lanham, and set about chasing down Starke, passing
him down the back straight. Starke wasnt going to lie down
easily, and kept Sedgmen up to his work. He worked the lines,
getting up the inside of the Victorian on the opening curves of
the penultimate lap. Sedgmen just had the better line out of the
turns, and held Starkes push for the lead, giving him a
little breathing space, which he was able to hold to the flag
despite another powerful run from Starke over the final two bends.
Lanham held third place to share the heat.
was quickly back on track, as he took the replacement spot in
Heat 9. This time he left nothing to chance as he jetted from
the tapes to make all the running from Richie Worrall and Charles
Wright. Worrall had made his first reasonable start of the night,
but in the process he only proved to hamper his team mate at vital
times in the race. Every time, the clearly faster, Wright made
his a move to take second spot and provide a challenge to Sedgmen,
Worrall appeared to take his ground, leaving Wright extremely
frustrated, something he made obvious to his team mate after the
the period of stalemate, it was the Monarchs who once again took
an advantage and broke the deadlock. Erik Riss was having his
first outing at the Oak Tree Arena, but the 2014 World Longtrack
Champion had taken to it like a duck to water, and had so far
dropped only one point to an opponent. He kept his run going with
another superb ride in Heat 10, breaking quickly at the start
to make every yard of the running. Kevin Wolbert was next away,
with Brady Kurtz taking up the chase. Kurtz ran down Wolbert,
and by the first turn of Lap 2, he was up his inside, and moved
the experienced Edinburgh man out to the fence. Leigh Lanham quickly
took advantage to snatch third, but his tenure was short lived,
as Wolbert immediately hit back. Kurtz charged after Riss, but
although making some ground, he was still some way behind when
he caught a huge lift in the final turn, and worked a small miracle
to get the bike in some semblance of order, and hang on to second
spot at the line.
advantage had given the Monarchs a 10-point lead on the night,
but Garry May bided his time in introducing the Black and
White . With the so far unbeaten and imperious looking Craig
Cook in the next race, he rolled the dice, swapping out his reserves,
bringing in Ollie Greenwood for Paul Starke, and banking on Josh
Grajczonek to keep the status quo. Clearly he hoped that the move
would give the Rebels a better chance of making a tactical move
work on the next heat.
made the ploy work perfectly as he hit the front directly from
the tape rise, and then clamped Cook hard to the kerb in the turn,
blocking off his route to the front, and blasting his prospective
maximum out of the water. Justin Sedgmen took up the running,
but with Grajczonek having the better run out of the bends, he
could only settle into second place, as he passed Cook down the
back straight. From that point on it was race over, with Grajczonek
roaring off in the lead, and able to answer any questions that
might be posed by the visiting pair, as he ensured the points
12 saw Garry May send Charles Wright to the start, carrying the
Rebels hopes of salvaging the meeting, along with the Black and
White helmet colours. Paul Starke came in for Ollie Greenwood
to provide added bite for the home side. From Wrights point
of view, everything went to plan, as he charged into an early
lead. Unfortunately Starke was slower away than he would have
liked, and found himself at the rear. Undeterred, he set off after
the Monarchs duo of Wolbert and Clegg. Starke powered down the
back straight, and was soon on terms with Clegg, who he despatched
quickly around the final turn of the lap. He put it all in, as
he chased Wolbert for the remainder of the race, trying every
line he knew to get on terms and pass the Monarchs man, but Wolbert
cleverly avoided giving him a chance to post maximum points for
the Rebels. However the resulting 7-2 brought the deficit down
to just 5-points, and put the home side back in the hunt.
13 proved to be another pivotal point in the meeting, and it didnt
go the Rebels way. But what a superb race it produced. Craig Cook
and Erik Riss (rider replacement) shot from the tapes, only to
get called back, with Cook being warned for jumping at start.
In the restart Cook was again very quickly into his stride, with
Riss coming from the back to steam around both Josh Grajczonek
and Brady Kurtz through the opening turns. Cook allowed Riss to
move through to the front, and then rode shotgun for four superb
laps to fend off the Rebels challenge, with Grajczonek and Kurtz
all over the back of the Monarchs pairing.
3 laps the Rebels probed and pressured the Monarchs, with all
four riders just over a bikes length apart. At one point Grajczonek
got up the outside, and Kurtz up the inside of Cook, but he had
so much speed out of the second turn, he grabbed his place back.
With it all to play for going to final lap, Brady Kurtz caught
a lift at the start line, and almost took his partners wheel.
That was enough to end Grajczonek challenge, but Kurtz went on
to ramp up the pressure, producing a massive run off the final
turns of the race, which just failed to limit the damage.
Although mathematically possible for a Rebels win, it would have
taken circumstances akin to winning the National Lottery to come
about if that was to happen. Realistically the best they could
hope for was to take two maximum advantages in the final two heats
to limit Edinburgh to a 3-point win.
the end the Monarchs provided both of the heat winners, as the
races produced just a share of the points for the Rebels. In Heat
14 the prolific Erik Riss completed a superb debut at the Oak
Tree Arena; with another all the way win to add to his earlier
exploits. Paul Starke came next, with Richie Worrall having to
come from behind Robert Branford on the second bend to earn the
Rebels the shared heat.
was out again in Heat 15, taking his place alongside Craig Cook.
Garry May nominated Brady Kurtz and Charles Wright for the Rebels.
Cook again showed a huge amount of speed off the start, leading
up Charles Wright to the turn. Wright had Erik Riss on his outside,
and cleverly moved him wide to allow a slow starting Kurtz through
into third place as they hit the back straight. For his part,
Riss never gave up the chase, and tried every possible line to
find a way through into third, but Kurtz had him covered, answering
all his calls over the four laps.
visiting side had produced a stunning victory, endinng the day
9-points to the good with a 42-51 win, and four more points to
add to their tally, maintaining their place at the head of the
table. Craig Cook produced a top drawer performance, being beaten
only once by an opponent all night, and posting a 15+2 return.
Erik Risss debut at the Oak Tree Arena was a revelation,
as he too hit double figures, with his 14-points seeing only two
defeats by an opposition rider. The pair were backed up by a fantastic
11+2 from Justin Sedgmen, whilst Kevin Wolbert hit 8, with rider
the home side it was their second home defeat in three meetings,
after an unbroken home record of 52 wins. Several riders produced
lack lustre displays, and it was telling that the two top scorers
were the superb Charles Wright, with 13+1, including a tactical
win, and Paul Starke with a hard working 9+1. Wrights performance
deservedly earned him the Somerset Rider of the Night
award, presented by Sam and Mandy Abbott of Rebels team partners
TQ Exel. Josh Grajczonek backed up the two top scorers with an
8-point return. For the first time in the two years he has been
at the club, Brady Kurtz failed to post a heat win.
'Cases' Somerset Rebels have some important meetings coming up,
including their Scottish tour, and they will have to be at the
top of their game if they are to maintain the push for a Play
Off place, and another shot at the title to add to their 2013
The speedway action at the Oaktree Arena on Tuesday (pics Colin
Burnett and Burnham-On-Sea.com)