Monday, May 19, 2014
The home form being displayed by The ‘Case’s’ Somerset Rebels is positively nuclear at the moment, as they posted their fourth successive 60-point score off the reel, writes Dave Thompson.
The fans that gathered on a lovely sunny Friday evening saw them completely dismantle the challenge of the Redcar Bears, with a salvo of ‘maximum’ scoring that saw no reply of any kind until Heat 5.
With both sides at full strength, the Rebels hit the visitors with a power packed start that saw them open up a 16-point unanswered lead by Heat 4. In the opener Nick Morris and Charles Wright hammered off the start to lead from the first turn, and after Morris had dropped over the top, clamping Hugh Skidmore to the kerb, it was race over, as he went on to record his 100th win for the Rebels, with Wright following up for all the points.
Heat two was almost a carbon copy of the opener, with Todd Kurtz and Paul Starke subduing their opponents before the second turn. Kurtz flew from the gate to lead up, with Starke coming around the wide line to charge past Luke Crang around the openers. Once at the front the pair pulled away, leaving Jan Graversen to pick up the crumbs.
Pontus Aspgren and Brady Kurtz led up in the third heat, and as Aspgren nullified the challenge of Carl Wilkinson, pinning him hard to the kerb in the first turn, Kurtz flew around the outside to take up the running down the back straight. Then as in the first two heats, the Rebels pair just towed away for an easy victory. Wilkinson gave chase, but made no impression, and Rafal Konopka threw away what little chance he had, when he got it all wrong at the third turn, almost making an unscheduled visit to the nearby Brent Knoll.
The Rebels kept the heat right on, as Ollie Allen, and Paul Starke blazed from the tapes in Heat 4, and led every inch of the way, leaving the Bears early challenge in tatters, with the scores at 20-4 in the Rebels favour. Aaron Summers never got into the race, trailing in last and leaving Luke Crang to pick up the minor point.
The Bears stopped the run of maximums in Heat 5, but it was more by luck than design. The original running of the race was stopped after a lot of movement, at the start, with Richard Lawson appearing to be the main culprit.
In the restart Brady Kurtz led up, with Lawson for company. Lawson led on the inside of the opening turns, but moved out wide, moving marginally into the lead down the back straight. Pontus Aspgren had made a slower start, and was coming around the fence with a wet sail, and reached the leading pair with Kurtz making his bid for the lead. Kurtz didn’t see him coming and inadvertently blocked his partner’s run, stopping his momentum. Lawson took quick advantage, and moved back ahead, but Kurtz battled back, and the pair passed and re-passed for the next lap, until Kurtz imposed himself on Lawson. Aspgren never recovered sufficiently from being baulked to get in a blow, and what looked for a moment to be another Rebels ‘full house’, turned out to be the next best thing, gaving the Bears a fortuitous extra point.
It was only a minor blip for the Rebels, and ‘maximum service’ was resumed over the next two heats. The Bears looked to have tamed the rampant Rebels in Heat 6, as Aaron Summers out gated the Rebels duo of Charles Wright and Nick Morris. As Morris recovered from a slow start, it got a bit tight in the first turn, and Jan Graversen hit the deck, although it looked like he went down on his own. The red lights came on and Mick Posselwhite called all four back to the tapes.
In the restart the Bears pair trapped out on a 5-1, with Morris slowly away again, and Wright taking a huge lift off the tapes. Morris headed for the dirt, and put in a supercharged run around the wide line on the first turn, to grab the lead. Wright quickly got his machine down and running, and by the fourth turn had made up a place, demoting Graversen to the rear. With Wright now on an all out charge, he closed down Summers over the next couple of laps, and had the Monarchs man firmly in his sights, when Summers machine gave a couple of loud pops, and stopped, leaving Wright an easy passage by. The problem was later traced to the plug lead coming adrift. Wright completed the race with his steel shoe dangling uselessly from his ankle.
The Bears sent Carl Wilkinson out on a tactical in Heat 7, but it all went wrong before they had even got under way. As the green light came on, Wilkinson moved, prompting Todd Kurtz to burst through the tapes, much to the Rebels fans dismay. But the referee had spotted that it was Wilkinson who was first to touch the tapes, and excluded him. Wilkinson elected to go from the 15 metre handicap, leaving the Rebels pair, led by Ollie Allen, to blast from the tapes to take an easy victory, after beating off an early challenge from Rafal Konopka, and bank the maximum points. Wilkinson was closing fast on his partner, when Konopka got badly out of shape on the second bend on the second lap, and took a fall that saw Wilkinson narrowly miss him.
Heat 8 saw a level break, with Hugh Skidmore, just taking advantage from Paul Starke, as he ran wide around the opening turns. Charles Wright charged down the back straight passing Starke as he went off in pursuit of Skidmore. Wright whittled away at Skidmore’s lead, and a lap later he took the lead up the inside of the back straight. Skidmore wasn’t done, coming back and grabbing back the lead at the start of the next lap. The pair then battled it out, swapping places as they went, until Wright finally got the upper hand, giving the Rebels a 4-2 advantage.
Brady Kurtz flashed from the tapes to lead up, as the other three broke level in Heat 9. Aaron Summers was soon in full flight, and moved into the lead around the opening turns, but Kurtz was back in front with a wide out run off the final turn of the lap. As they exited the second turn on the next lap, Kurtz ran wide, clipped the fence, and took a nasty looking fall that saw him somersault down the track, coming to rest almost at the third turn. It was a very hard fall, and for a while it looked as though he had done some serious damage, but eventually he got to his feet, and was able to walk back to the pits under his own steam, if somewhat a little groggy. That was the last time he was seen on the track, as he withdrew from the meeting, with brother Todd Kurtz taking his final ride.
In the restart a level break saw Pontus Aspgren take advantage to hit the front early on, taking the inside line, and then moving wide in the next to hit the dirt line. Once in control he pulled away to take a comfortable win and share the points.
Charles Wright shot from the tapes leading up Heat 10 from the off. Behind him, Nick Morris broke on the inside of Carl Wilkinson, and took second place as he moved the Lincolnshire born man to the very widest line, blocking his run. Morris moved into the lead down the back straight, and as he pulled away, Wilkinson closed on Wright, passing him before the third turn, and set off in pursuit of Morris. He closed up the Rebels number one down the back straight of the next lap, throwing in an inside challenge on the third turn, but Morris had it all under control, and easily held him off to the flag.
Heat 11 saw the Bears resort to their second tactical ride, with Lawson wearing the ‘Black and White’ colours. He broke quickly, but had no answer to Ollie Allen’s powerful run to the turn. Allen clamped Lawson to the kerb, and was away and gone, charging around the widest line to pull well clear, and that was the race in a nutshell. Lawson held on to second place and the points were shared 4-4.
Todd Kurtz replaced his brother in the next race, but the result was just a different Kurtz at the head of affairs, as he rocketed off the line to lead before the turn, clamping Jan Graversen to the kerb, and passing up the inside of Carl Wilkinson in the process. Wilkinson was soon in second place, leaving Graversen to fend off Paul Starke. As Kurtz rattled in a good lead at the front, Graversen looked to have sealed third place for the bears, but Starke was determined that he would not be the first Rebel on the night to record a genuine last place. He beavered away at the back, closing Graversen to the point where he was in a position to challenge. Graversen left a small gap, and Starke pounced, driving hard up his inside, and muscled him out of the way around the opening turns of the final lap to give the Rebels another advantage.
Heat 13 saw the Bears take an early lead, with Aaron Summers leading up Nick Morris and Ollie Allen. Allen charged up his inside in the first curve, and then moved out to the wide line and into the dirt to head the race. He created the gap for Morris to follow him through in the next bend, and it was not long before the Rebels were back on the trail of maximum points. Summers challenged back at the final turn of the lap, but Morris held him off with some comfort and after that the further they went, the further the Rebels duo pulled away.
Jan Graversen replaced Luke Crang in Heat 14, but in the final analysis it made little difference. The field broke level, but the Rebels pairing of Pontus Aspgren and Todd Kurtz took control before the turn, and soon put distance between themselves and Rafal Konopka. With every turn of their wheels they put yards on their opponents, and by the flag they had recorded one of the easiest wins of the season so far.
Todd Kurtz had had a magnificent night, but it wasn’t over yet, and he found himself in the nominated heat, alongside Nick Morris. The Bears choice for the race was a bit more difficult to predict, as no one had covered themselves with glory, so it fell to Carl Wilkinson, and Aaron Summers to come to the line. When the tapes went up, it was Kurtz who jetted from the line to lead the race. Morris was slower away, and found Wilkinson in front of him, but by the end of the first turn he was on the wheel of Kurtz, moving to the lead down the back straight. Morris took the race pulling away, and even a puncture late in the piece couldn’t stop him. Kurtz easily held a comfortable second place, and Wilkinson never got in a blow, as the Rebels finished as they started, with another volley of ‘maximum’ power.
The final score line of 68-24 was a record against the Redcar Bears, and one in which every Rebels rider had scored freely. Nick Morris topped the table with a 14+1 paid maximum, whilst Todd Kurtz followed up with 13+2, dropping only two points to an opponent on the night. Skipper Ollie Allen, posted a full four ride maximum for his 12-points, whilst all the rest contribute to a performance, in which the Rebels did not post one last place, excepting Brady Kurtz fall.
Morris’s performance earned him the ‘Rider of the Night’, presented by the proprietor of the Dunston House, in Burnham-on-Sea. Morris, as Ollie Allen had done when collecting his trophy last week, praised the rest of the team’s efforts, which he described as ‘Awesome’, and added that the tracks produced by track curator, Ez Curtis, over the last few weeks had contributed in no small way to the Rebels present run of hot form. On a personal note, Morris has now scored over 100-points for the Rebels this season and over 400-points in Rebels colours since he came to the club.
Next week sees the visit of the Rebels ‘Old Enemy’, in the form of the Sheffield Tigers, and with Simon Stead in fine form for the visitors, and their recent team changes, it should be an interesting and exciting encounter.
Somerset Rebels - 68
1. Nick Morris - 3, 3, 3, 2*, 3 = 14+1
2. Charles Wright - 2*, 2*, 3, 1 = 8+2
3. Brady Kurtz - 3, 3, Flx (withdrawn) = 6
4. Pontus Aspgren - 2*, 1, 3, 3 = 9+1
5. Oliver Allen - 3, 3, 3, 3 = 12
6. Todd Kurtz - 3, 2*, 1, 3, 2*, 2* = 13+3
7. Paul Starke - 2*, 2*, 1, 1 = 6+2
Redcar Bears - 24
1. Richard Lawson - 0, 2, 4^, 0 = 6
2. Hugh Skidmore - 1, 0, 2, 0 = 3
3. Carl Wilkinson - 1, 1^, 2, 2, 1 = 7
4. Rafal Konopka - 0, R, 0, 1 = 1
5. Aaron Summers - 0, R, 2, 1, 0 = 3
6. Jan Graversen - 1, 1, 1*, 0, 0 = 3+1
7. Luke Crang - 0, 1, 0 = 1
SCB Referee: Mike Posselwhite
Heat 01: Morris, Wright, Skidmore, Lawson (5-1) (5-1) 57.44
Heat 02: T Kurtz, Starke, Graversen, Crang (5-1) (10-2) 58.19
Heat 03: B Kurtz, Aspgren, Wilkinson, Konopka (5-1) (15-3) 57.19
Heat 04: Allen, Starke, Crang, Summers (5-1) (20-4) 58.00
Heat 05: Re run: B Kurtz, Lawson, Aspgren, Skidmore (4-2) (24-6) 57.69
Heat 06: Re run: Morris, Wright, Graversen, Summers (Ret) (5-1) (29-7) 57.44
Heat 07: Re run: Allen, T Kurtz, Wilkinson (Tactical), Konopka (Fell-Rmntd, Ret) (5-1) (34-8) 58.32
Heat 08: Wright, Skidmore, Starke, Crang (4-2) (38-10) 58.50
Heat 09: Re run: Aspgren, Summers, Graversen, B Kurtz (flx) (3-3) (41-13) 58.13
Heat 10: Morris, Wilkinson, Wright, Konopka (4-2) (45-15) 58.75
Heat 11: Allen, Lawson (tactical), T Kurtz, Skidmore (4-4) (49-19) 58.13
Heat 12: T Kurtz, Wilkinson, Starke, Graversen (4-2) (53-21) 58.93
Heat 13: Allen, Morris, Summers, Lawson (5-1) (58-22) 58.93
Heat 14: Aspgren, T Kurtz, Konopka, Graversen (5-1) (63-23) 58.93
Heat 15: Morris, T Kurtz, Wilkinson, Summers (5-1) (68-24) 58.81