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Rebels v Wolves

 

DESPITE falling by 6-points to the Poole Pirates on Monday afternoon, the ĎCasesí Somerset Rebels came into this SGB Premiership encounter with the Wolverhampton Wolves, knowing that they could secure a place in the end of season playoffs if they took a good win against their Midlands rivals.

The Wolves came into this encounter without their top man Rory Schlein, who was covered by Rider Replacement, with James Sarjeant as guest reserve, and on the back of some indifferent away performances, whilst the Rebels were still without three regular riders, their places being covered by guest riders Adam Ellis for illness victim Richard Lawson, and Todd Kurtz and Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen in for the injured Jake Allen and Bradley Wilson-Dean respectively.
The Rebels didnít let the grass grow under their feet in the quest for the guaranteed playoff place, opening up a 10-point lead by Heat 5. Jason Doyle was quickly into his stride in Heat 1, hitting the front and clamping Kyle Howarth to the kerb in turn one. Aaron Summers slotted into third as they hit the back straight, with a slow starting Jacob Thorssell, taking the replacement ride, last away. Doyle took an easy win, with Summers pressing for second all the way, ultimately unsuccessfully.
Ashley Morris left the rest for dead in the run for the first bend of Heat 2, with Todd Kurtz and Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen slotting in behind. The pair chased him hard for all four laps, with Kurtz coming with a big run off the final two bends but to no avail as Morris had the win sewn up.
Like Morris before him, Rebels guest Adam Ellis flew from the tapes to lead early, getting over the top of Jonas B Andersen as they hit the first curve. Sam Masters came next, with Nico Covatti just behind. Covatti headed for the dirt and powered after the Wolves duo, but as soon as he was on their back wheels they stopped his run, and team rode him out of the race to the flag.
Jack Holder has made a few less than sharp starts of late, and he added another to the list in the next heat. Fortunately, it didnít hinder his progress much. Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen had bolted from the line to hit the front from the off, with James Sarjeant and Jacob Thorssell dropping in behind. Holder was quickly on Thorssell, cutting inside him on the second turn, and then heading for the dirt line, chasing down Sarjeant, before sweeping past him on the third and fourth turns, as Busk Jakobsen cleverly slowed the race. Once at the front, the Rebels pair pulled away to take an easy maximum advantage.
The field broke level in heat 5, with the exception of replacement rider Jonas B Andersen, the rest hitting the turn three abreast. Nico Covatti led off the next turn, from Kyle Howarth and Adam Ellis. Ellis cut inside Howarth on the final turns of the lap, before taking the lead outside Covatti. Howarth kept up the pressure, putting in a big outside run on the final lap, but the Rebels pairing had too much in hand for the Wolves racer.
In complete opposition to his previous two starts, Jacob Thorssell made a jet-propelled start to Heat 6 and was in front well before the first bend. Jason Doyle was next up and started to wind up the power, careering around the fence line in pursuit of the Swede. With Doyle getting faster and faster the further they went, Thorssellís tenure at the head of the field lasted only until the final turns of the second lap, where Doyle steamed into the lead. Aaron Summers had third place sewn up early on, and he too set about Thorssell, but despite closing him down late in the affair, he couldnít make the second spot his.
Unlike his Heat 4 start, Jack Holder blasted away from the tapes in Heat 7. He was challenged into the turn by Jonas B Andersen but moved him wide in the bend, and virtually out of contention. Todd Kurtz took advantage of the move, slipping through the inside to drop onto Holders wheel. Sam Masters moved to third place, trying to chase down the Rebels pairing, getting close to Kurtz a lap later, however, the Rebels guest had him covered and fended him off with some ease. From there on the race was safe for the home duo, the only hint of danger being a quick lift, close to the back straight fence by Holder. The moment passed quickly and Holder had the race in the bag.
Now 16-points down, the Wolves badly needed to stop the rot, and put some points on the board. Many watching felt Heat 8 to be an ideal opportunity to use the tactical ride, possibly bringing in Jacob Thorssell for James Sarjeant, and pair him with Kyle Howarth for a potential ĎFull Houseí, but Peter Adams clearly didnít share that opinion and passed up the chance.
In the event, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen shot from the tapes to lead up but was quickly tracked by Howarth. A lap later Howarth made a neat inside move to hit the front but Busk Jakobsen had other ideas, and by the next turn he was back in the lead. Aaron Summers had slipped into third place and was now chasing Howarth, looking for a mistake, which never came, and pressing him all the way to the flag.
Ironically, Adams played his tactical card in the next heat, putting together the pairing many thought he should have used in the previous heat as he brought in Kyle Howarth to partner Jacob Thorssell. It was a strange decision, as the previous heat had offered an easier task, considering the fact that the opponents here in Heat 9, had already easily outpointed his two riders programmed ride for programmed ride. Whilst Thorssell did flash from the gate and lead all the way, Howarth never got in the hunt, as first Eilis and then Covatti pressed Thorssell for the lead, before the Wolves man took a comfortable win.
Sam Masters made a superb start to Heat 10, to lead well before the first curve, with Aaron Summers and Jason Doyle sitting in behind. Doyle took up the chase at the end of the first lap, hitting the dirt line and winding it on until he was on terms with Masters. As he got to the former Rebel, he made a sublime cut back to move into the van off the second turn of Lap 2, before moving back to the wide line to power away. Aaron Summers held a comfortable third place after he had easily outsprinted Jonas B Andersen to the opening bend.
Masters was quickly back on track, as Peter Adams sent him out for the replacement ride in Heat 11. Once again he made a great start to lead up but once again he fell to a powerful outside run, this time from Jack Holder, who reeled him in, and instead of cutting back inside like Doyle, swept by on the outside of the back straight of the third lap. Todd Kurtz had moved close to Masters and sat on his back wheel, applying pressure right up to the line.
As he had done in Heat 2, Ashley Morris zipped off the gates to take an early lead in the next heat but unlike heat two, he couldnít keep Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen at bay. The Rebels guest reserve moved outside to throw in his challenge on the final turn of the opening lap but the native Wulfrunian held him off. Busk Jakobsen wasnít deterred and kept up the pressure, finally sweeping by Morris down the back straight of the penultimate lap. Nico Covatti held an easy third place, from Jonas B Andersen, who never got in the hunt.
Jason Doyle continued his unbeaten run in Heat 13, with a rapid start, which saw him lead before the turn. As far as Doyle was concerned that was race over, but from the watching crowdís point of view, the main action took place behind the Rebels skipper. Jack Holder had not beaten the replacement rider, Kyle Howarth, into the first turn and was now closing in on the Ashton-under-Lyne born racer, with a powerful outside run. As they hit the final turn of Lap 3, Holder cut back inside to deprive Howarth of second place. However, the Lancastrian duplicated the move as the pair reached the opening turn of the final lap to regain second. To the rising cheers of the Rebels fans, Holder cut back inside immediately, to finally put paid the Wolves manís ambitions of taking second place. As in his first two rides, Jacob Thorssell never got in the hunt.
Despite supplying a couple of heat winners, Wolverhampton had not recorded a heat advantage all night. However, they put that right in Heat 14, where Sam Masters shot from the gate to lead from Todd Kurtz and Wolverhampton reserve switch, Ashley Morris. Kurtz was upside Masters on the final bend of the lap, but couldnít find a way by. A lap later he was through and into the lead but Masters wasnít up for accepting second place and on the back straight of Lap 3; he shot past Kurtz to regain first place. Ashley Morris took third, with a very slow starting Adam Ellis at the back.
For the nominated heat, Garry May sent out his unbeaten skipper, alongside Nico Covatti, whilst Peter Adams relied on Jacob Thorssell and Sam Masters to do the business. In the end, his charges had no answer to the speed of Jason Doyle, who blazed from the gate to lead all the way. As Doyle took the second turn, Covatti took Masters second place away, putting the Rebels on a maximum advantage. However, that situation lasted only a matter of seconds, as Thorssell swept by both Covatti and Masters to move into second place. He may have got into second but thatís as far as it went as he couldnít match Doyleís pace. With Covatti comfortably holding Masters, the Rebels ran out 59-31 winners on the night, ensuring that they would take part in the playoffs, no matter how their final three league fixtures pan out.
Itís difficult to say if the Rebels were so good, or Wolverhampton were particularly poor but on the evidence of the night, itís more likely that the former would be pretty much on the mark. In the main, when Wolverhampton riders got out of the gate, the Rebels ran them down, passing when they wished, inside, outside or down the middle, it didnít really matter. Their dominance was demonstrated by the fact that Wolverhampton recorded only three heat winner and one heat advantage all evening, with Sam Masters their top performer with 9+1.
All the Rebels, both regulars and guests alike had a solid night, topped by two maximums. The first, a full five ride return for Jason Doyle (15pts) and the second a paid maximum for Jack Holder (11+1). Holderís performance earned him the Somerset ĎRider of the Nightí award, presented by Steve Hathway, who was celebrating his birthday, along with his family, who were the meeting sponsors. Steve said it was a difficult and close decision, which it must have been, considering the two maximums and Nikolaj Busk Jakobsenís tremendous 9+2 from the reserve berth.
The Rebels have a busy upcoming schedule, with three fixtures next week, firstly away to the Leicester Lions on Monday, then back to the Oaktree Arena the next day, for the rearranged fixture with the Kings Lynn Stars and finally on Wednesday at the National Speedway Stadium, for a BT Sport televised meeting against Belle Vue Aces. These final three league meetings will determine if the Rebels finish top of the table and have the first choice of opponents in the playoffs.
Dave Thompson


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