Friday April 28, 2017
For the second successive week, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels suffered the heartbreak of a narrow home defeat, this time at the hands of the King's Lynn Stars. Whilst the Rebels were back at full strength, with the return of Patrick Hougaard, the Stars were without former World Champion Chris Holder, and injury victim Josh Bailey. Their places were taken by the Oaktree Arena track record holder, Craig Cook, and James Shanes.

The Stars delivered the opening salvo in this battle, taking the opening heat 2-4, but not before Paul Starke had given the Rebels hope of an opening win. Starke bolted from the tapes to lead up Cook, with Rohan Tungate slowly away but holding third place into the turn. Tungate was still clearly suffering the mechanical issues, which have plagued him since the beginning of the season and was quickly swallowed up by Lewis Rose. Starke fared better, leading the now flying Cook until the opening turn of lap 2, where he guided under the Herefordshire racer to grab the lead and hold off Starke’s renewed challenge before pulling away.

The Rebels hit back immediately and with force, as they hit home a maximum advantage. Kai Huckenbeck led from the tapes, followed by the Rebels duo of Jan Graversen and Jake Allen. Graversen came with a strong run down the back straight, moving wide around Huckenbeck as they headed back to the home straight. Allen was now in full flow, and down the back straight he cut inside the German racer to grab second and join Graversen at the front. Huckenbeck was never far away, and on the following lap he threw in a big challenge on the final turn but made a mistake that sealed his fate, leaving the Rebels pair with the breathing space they needed to complete the race unchallenged.

Heat three saw a repeat of the previous score line when Charles Wright and Patrick Hougaard blazed away to lead before the first turn. The pair rode side-by-side for the whole four laps, with Hougaard inside and Wright out, as the team rode any possible opposition out of the race. Troy Batchelor took a distant third place, as Nicklas Porsing slowed dramatically on the opening turn of the final lap, before crawling around all the way to the flag, as the Rebels pulled out a 6-point lead.

Robert Lambert's last appearance at the Oaktree Arena saw him carry off the SGB Premiership Pairs with team mate Chris Holder, and he carried on that success by taking Heat 4 here, but not before both he and Josh Grajczonek suffered incidents that could have potentially changed the outcome of the race.

Lambert led from the off, with Grajczonek right on his heels, down the back straight the Rebels skipper caught a huge lift, which not only halted his progress at a time he appeared to be lining up a challenge, but one that would have seen many a rider on the floor. He soon had the bike running again, and astonishingly was challenging Lambert for the lead on the very next turn, but the damage had been done, and Lambert fought off the challenge. Grajczonek kept up the pressure, and as they approached the second turn of the final lap, it was Lamberts turn to find a patch of grip that could have seen him lose the lead. His machine took an enormous detour, almost high siding the rider in the process, but Lambert quickly, and with tremendous skill, tamed the beast and almost without missing a beat had his machine back on the straight and narrow, holding off the rapidly closing Rebels skipper. Jan Graversen easily accounted for James Shanes to pack the places and ensure the heat was shared.

The Stars closed the gap with a heat advantage in the next race, as Lewis Rose no mistake at the gate. Rose led up from the remainder of the field, who were tightly bunched, but was soon rounded by Craig Cook. Patrick Hougaard came next and as they negotiated the back straight Hougaard was on terms with Rose, and smoothly moved into second off the final turn of the lap. From that point on the race was settled. Charles Wright was squeezed out in the opening turns, but despite chasing hard could not make up the ground, and retired on the final turn of the race.

Heat 6 saw the scores levelled when Robert Lambert added his second win of the evening. He was quickly into his stride, with Rohan Tungate alongside, as Paul Starke’s machine got no further than a few yards off the line before giving up the ghost. Tungate managed little better, as he was swallowed up on the turn by Kai Huckenbeck, as his machine couldn’t muster the speed to defend his position. Once Huckenbeck took second the race was over, and the Stars were back on level terms.

The next two heats saw the team swap advantages, as first the Rebels and then the Stars took the honours to retain the status quo. Nicklas Porsing led up Heat 7, with Josh Grajczonek giving chase. In the turn, Troy Batchelor took the wide line to grab second place, but the Stars joy was short lived, as Grajczonek powered to the front, with an outside pass on both Stars riders. Jake Allen took the inside route to pass Porsing a lap later, giving the Rebels the advantage, with Porsing retiring on the final lap. Allen chased down Batchelor, and threw in a challenge on the final lap, but could not find a route that would take him to second place.

Heat 8 brought Kai Huckenbeck to the tapes as the Stars switched reserves. On the Rebels side of the gates, things got underway badly, with Paul Starke's machine stopping at the tapes, and then refusing to start. He was forced into changing his bike with just seconds to spare before the off. When the tapes rose, it was the Stars who made the best getaway, with Huckenbeck leading inside the opening curve. Jan Graversen took the inside line on the second bend to push Lewis Rose down to third. Starke recovered from a slow start and was in full flow, but the damage had been done, and despite all his efforts, he couldn’t find a way to pass Rose, leaving the advantage with the Stars.

The match then went into as prolonged period of stalemate, with the next five heats being shared, but that’s not to say it lacked excitement. Robert Lambert led up Heat 9, only to see Charles Wright sail by on the wide outside of the final bend of the lap. Lambert stuck to Wright like glue but it was only a hard looking move up Wright inner on the third bend of the penultimate lap that saw him back through into the lead. Wright immediately cut back to the inside, throwing in a challenge in the opener of the final circuit, which Lambert repelled before going on to take a hard-fought win. Patrick Hougaard always held a comfortable third place, easily holding any challenge from Kai Huckenbeck.

With Rohan Tungate still clearly suffering from unfathomable mechanical issues, Garry May replaced him with Jake Allen in Heat 10. Troy Batchelor took the advantage from the off, followed up by the Rebels pairing of Allen and Paul Starke. The pairs seemed to get in each other’s way at the turn, leaving Allen high and wide, and the door open for Nicklas Porsing to put the Stars on a ‘Full House’. Posing’s tenure in second was very short lived, as both Rebels passed him, with some ease, on the final turns of the lap. From that point on there was no change, with Batchelor running out the easy winner, followed home by the two Rebels.

Jake Allen was quickly back on track, but suffered an equally quick return to the pits, as he touched the tapes, before being replaced by Jan Graversen. Josh Grajczonek made a lightning start to lead from the off, with Craig Cook being beaten for pace to the bend. Jan Graversen and Lewis rose disputed third place early on until Rose took the advantage into the back straight. Grajczonek was away and gone, and looked to hold an unassailable lead until he made a slight mistake, which caused him to run wide and get slightly out of shape, on the final turn of the third lap. Cooks closed the gap, but it was never enough to catch the flying Rebels skipper, as the heat was added to the shared tally.

Charles Wright made a quick start in Heat 12, but immediately caught a lift, which gave Kai Huckenbeck a chance to power up the outside to hit the front before the turn. Wright hit back instantly, heading the race again up the inner, with Jake Allen similarly accounting for Nicklas Porsing. Huckenbeck continued on the wide line to charge back into the lead as they hit the back straight. Wright gave chase, trying all lines to head off the flying Star, but was thwarted at every turn. He laid down a powerful run, after finding some drive off the final turns of the race, and was closing rapidly when the line came, leaving Wright just shy of pipping Huckenbeck at the flag.

Josh Grajczonek put in another captain's ride in Heat 13, eclipsing the Stars duo at the tapes. As Grajczonek made a blazing start, he left Craig Cook and Robert Lambert in his wake. Rohan Tungate fought a close battle with Lambert to the turn, where once again his machine was found lacking. Lambert joined Cook to forlornly chase Grajczonek, and in the process block out any chance of a Tungate revival. Tungate somehow coaxed something from his errant machine, and managed to put himself in a position to throw in a run, which closed the gap on the Stars duo but met with the inevitable result.

Jake Allen got himself a warning from the referee when he jumped the start in Heat 14, and Chris Durno pulled the riders back. In the restart, both Allen and Patrick Hougaard were rapidly into their stride, with Troy Batchelor pressing on the outside. Batchelor somehow found a route through a miniscule gap, squeezing by as they traversed to opening turns. From there on he pulled out a lead he was not to lose, with both Rebels easily filling the places. As the race drew to a close the Rebels looked to be comfortably holding the race in the balance, until Hougaard moved inside, with Allen moving out. Allen appeared to lose a little drive and handed James Shanes an opportunity, which he grabbed with both hands, powering under Allen as they came off the final turn of Lap 3. Allen chased, but could never get back on terms as the Stars took a decisive advantage before the final heat.

For the final heat, Garry May turned to Josh Grajczonek and Patrick Hougaard to bring home the bacon, and for a long time, it looked to be a move that would pay off. Hougaard bolted from the tapes to lead up, with Craig Cook just getting the advantage over Josh Grajczonek at the bend. Hougaard continued to lead, as Grajczonek harried Cook for second. Then disaster struck for the Rebels, as Hougaard caught a lift entering the back straight for the second time. It caused him a small problem, as he lost a little momentum, but he soon had the bike tracking straight, but it was enough to give Cook the advantage into the next turn, an advantage he took in full as he blasted under Hougaard to hit the front. Josh Grajczonek took up the chase, but could never get into a challenging position, as Cook held sway to the flag. With Troy Batchelor never getting in a blow, the points were shared, but that was enough to give the Stars a narrow win 44-46. Those two small mistakes in the final two heats had cost the Rebels dear, leaving them to ponder two home losses on the bounce.

For the visitors, Craig Cook had proved a valuable guest, with a great 13-point haul, whilst Robert Lambert (10+1), Troy Batchelor (9), and Kai Huckenbeck (9+1) had provided the back up. Even though James Shanes contribution was just 1-point, it proved to be an important one, as it sent the Stars into the final heat in the driving seat.

For the Rebels, skipper Josh Grajczonek carried off the Somerset ‘Rider of the Night’ award for the second week in a row, presented to him by Simon Sparey of the ‘Garage Door People', who were enjoying the evenings racing at the Oaktree Arena. Grajczonek posted a 13-point, in another ‘Captain’s Innings’ performance. His main back up was provided by Patrick Hougaard (8+3), and Charles Wright (7), with Jan Graversen putting up a creditable 5+2, riding well all night, and probably deserving more for his efforts.

In this week’s Speedway Star, Garry May was quoted as saying that he may have to make changes for the team to be competitive, but that is to be seen, but it’s clear that the Rebels are not firing in all departments, and May will think long and hard about how to make that right, of that you can be sure. The Rebels now have two really tough matches on the horizon; firstly a visit to Belle Vue on Bank Holiday Monday, followed by hosting last year’s Elite League Champions, Wolverhampton at the Oaktree Arena next Friday.

Somerset Rebels - 44

1. Rohan Tungate - 0, 1, 0 = 1
2. Paul Starke - 2, R, 0, 2 = 4
3. Charles Wright - 3, R, 2, 2 = 7
4. Patrick Hougaard - 2*, 2, 1*, 2, 1* = 8+3
5. Josh Grajczonek - 2, 3, 3, 3, 2 = 13
6. Jake Allen - 3, 1, 1*, 1*, 0 = 6+2
7. Jan Graversen - 2*, 1*, 2, 0 = 5+2

King's Lynn Stars – 46

1. Craig Cook (G) - 3, 3, 2, 2, 3 = 13
2. Lewis Rose - 1, 1, 1, 1* = 4+1
3. Nicklas Porsing - 0, R, 0, 0 = 0
4. Troy Batchelor – 1, 2, 3, 3, 0 = 9
5. Robert Lambert – 3, 3, 3, 1* = 10+1
6. Kai Huckenbeck – 1, 2*, 3, 0, 3 = 9+1
7. James Shanes (G) – 0, 0, 1 = 1

SCB Referee: Chris Durno

Heat Details

Heat 01: Cook, Starke, Rose, Tungate (2-4) (2-4) 57.25
Heat 02: Allen, Graversen, Huckenbeck, Shanes (5-1) (7-5) 58.38
Heat 03: Wright, Hougaard, Batchelor, Porsing (5-1) (12-6) 57.87
Heat 04: Lambert, Grajczonek, Graversen, Shanes (3-3) (15-9) 57.87
Heat 05: Cook, Hougaard, Rose, Wright (Ret) (2-4) (17-13) 57.07
Heat 06: Lambert, Huckenbeck, Tungate, Starke (Ret) 1-5 (18-18) 57.43
Heat 07: Grajczonek, Batchelor, Allen, Porsing (Ret) (4-2) (22-20) 57.65
Heat 08: Huckenbeck, Graversen, Rose, Starke (2-4) (24-24) 58.28
Heat 09: Lambert, Wright, Hougaard, Huckenbeck (3-3) (27-27) 58.50
Heat 10: Batchelor, Starke, Allen, Porsing (3-3) (30-30) 58.25
Heat 11: Grajczonek, Cook, Rose, Graversen (3-3) (33-33) 58.37
Heat 12: Huckenbeck, Wright, Allen, Porsing (3-3) (36-36) 58.56
Heat 13: Grajczonek, Cook, Lambert, Tungate (3-3) (39-39) 58.50
Heat 14: Batchelor, Hougaard, Shanes, Allen (2-4) (41-43) 58.56
Heat 15: Cook, Grajczonek, Hougaard, Batchelor (3-3) (44-46) 58.75

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