Friday May 05, 2017
With the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels stunning Bank Holiday Monday victory over high-flying Belle Vue fresh in the minds, hopes were high for a follow up win over what many saw as a depleted Wolverhampton Wolves side, but it wasn’t to be.

Wolverhampton, who were missing Freddie Lindgren – riding for his Polish club, Sam Masters, and Mark Riss – both claimed by their parent club Edinburgh, but they had chosen their guests wisely, bringing in Robert Lambert, Richie Worrall, and Ellis Perks. Lambert has developed a liking for the Oaktree Arena circuit, whilst Worrall spent a season racing for the Rebels and knows it well. For his part, Perks seems to have hit form at the right time, posting notable scores in his last two meeting for Redcar in the SGB Championship. Add to that trio another former Rebel, Kyle Howarth, who lists Somerset as one of his favourite tracks, the impressive Jacob Thorssell, and Rory Schlein, and the Wolves looked in much better shape than some of the pessimistic travelling Black Country Fans and Social media contributors would have you believe.

The visitors got off to the perfect start when Robert Lambert flew from the traps to lead up from Paul Stark, with Kyle Howarth and Rohan Tungate close up. Howarth muscled his way past Starke down the back straight to take up station behind the flying Lambert. Stark got no further than the second lap, where he suffered another one of the mechanical problems that have dogged his Rebels season in 2017. Tungate, who had been badly filled in, in the opening exchanges, chased Howarth hard and although pretty close all the way, could not negotiate a way to second place as Wolverhampton posted an opening maximum advantage.

Ellis Perks shot from the gate, in Heat 2, to head the field into the turn. Jan Graversen was not far behind, and as they hit the third bend he moved out into the dirt and powered to the front, off the final, turn of the lap. Jake Allen, whose gating skills appear to have deserted him of late, came next, harrying Perks in a bid to make a full reply to the Wolves opening salvo. Allen pushed hard, and looked as though he had might make the breakthrough at any time, but Perks held him off to the flag.

Patrick Hougaard, back from his SEC qualifying attempt, was quickly into his stride, leading up Heat 3 at the turn, with Jacob Thorssell, Rory Schlein and Charles Wright close up. Thorssell came out of the bunch off the second turn, roaring down the back straight and sailing by Hougaard in the process. Schlein, who had not got the best of gates, couldn't hold off the charge of Charles Wright, as the Stockport racer, who was suffering badly from Flu, swept into third place heading into the third turn. From their Thorssell pulled well clear, winning with ease, whilst the Rebels duo easily held the places to share the heat.

The home side were back on terms following the next heat, but not before Rebels skipper, Josh Grajczonek, had performed a one-wheeled miracle pass. Former Rebel Richie Worrall got a flying start to lead up, with Grajczonek not far behind. Worrall led until the end of the second lap, where Grajczonek, challenging hard, caught a big lift off the final turn and looked to be heading to Burnham beach, but he had it under control immediately, and squeezed through the narrowest of gaps on the outside, with the bike still on the back wheel. Once he hit the front, he had the bike and the race under full control, never looking in danger of losing his lead. With Jan Graversen easily accounting for Nathan Greaves, the Rebels posted a 4-2, which saw them level the scores at 12-12.

Heat 5 saw the field break level, heading into the opening turn four abreast. Patrick Hougaard took the shortest way around the bend to emerge in the lead as they headed into the back straight. To the home fans delight, he was followed through by Charles Wright. The pair headed into the second lap, with the Wolverhampton duo pressing hard. Kyle Howarth got up the inside of Wright, and ruthlessly moved him hard to the fence, allowing his partner into second, and putting an end to Wright’s effective participation. Robert Lambert gave chase to Hougaard, and as they approached the final turn, he cut back hard as Hougaard covered his outside run, but it wasn’t enough to steal away the race, as the Rebels man held him off to the line.

Heat 6 was called back at the first attempt, as Richie Worrall got a flyer and a warning from the referee. In the restart, he again appeared to move early, but this time the race was allowed to continue, as the infringement was not spotted by Willie Dishington. The Rebels pairing of Rohan Tungate and Paul Starke took up the places, with Tungate giving chase to Worrall. Starke looked to have third place tied up, until a mistake at the end of the opening circuit allowed Ellis Perks through to third. Tungate clearly had the speed to keep Worrall on his mettle, but he could never get in a full blow, and the visitors move back into a narrow lead.

Wolverhampton moved further ahead with their second ‘Full House’ in Heat 7. When the tapes rose, Rory Schlein and Jacob Thorssell got the better of Josh Grajczonek, who found himself the ‘meat in the sandwich’ as he was shuffled to the rear on the run to the turn. Jake Allen cut back from the outside gate, to drop in behind Schlein, and demote Thorssell to third. He held the place for a lap before Thorssell came with a powerful outside run off bend two to grab back second place. Meanwhile, Grajczonek only got as far as the final turn of the second lap, before retiring, leaving the visitors with all the points.

Garry May replaced Paul Starke with Jake Allen in Heat 8, but the move only partly paid dividends. Jan Graversen hit the front from the tapes, to lead every yard of the race, in the meantime Jake Allen moved across from the outside gate to slide through the inside, accounting for both Nathan Greaves and Kyle Howarth in the process. The Rebels looked to have secured a maximum advantage, but Howarth had clearly not read the script, and came down the wide outside back straight on the second lap, before outdoing Allen with a move the Rebels man had made his own last season. Cutting back hard from the wide outside, Howarth slipped up the inside of the third bend to steal away the second spot, and deny the home side a maximum advantage.

Charles Wright saw off the fast-starting Richie Worrall, with a fantastic and powerful hard charging outside run around the third turn of the opening lap of Heat 9, before moving clear to a certain win, and a Rebels heat advantage, with Patrick Hougaard holding third place, but on the third lap disaster struck. Initially, it looked as though Wright had suffered some kind of mechanical failure, but it transpired that he had clipped the kick board on the back straight of the third lap, causing the bike to lift as he entered the turn, and then give him a horrific looking fall. Wright was quickly attended by the medical staff, as there appeared to be some concern about his condition, but fortunately, he soon regained his feet, with a skinned arm, and an exclusion for his pains. The race was awarded, going 2-4 to Wolverhampton.

The Rebels misfortune was compounded in the next heat, as Rory Schlein and Jacob Thorssell were like lightning out of the gate, nullifying any challenge that might come from Rohan Tungate and the out of sorts Paul Starke. The pair had the race sewn up in the early stages, as despite giving a spirited chase, Tungate could make no inroads into the Wolves lead, as they built as 10-point cushion, 25-35, at a vital time.

Garry May was quick to turn to his captain for a tactical ride. Josh Grajczonek was fast into the fray, leading from the tapes, but his back up didn’t arrive, as Jake Allen fell from the gate. Allen quickly made up lost ground, but the Wolves pairing of Kyle Howarth and Robert Lambert were happy to contain the young Queenslander, who despite his hard challenging couldn’t find a way beyond the visiting pair to help his captain to cut the deficit more than the three points they achieved.

The night was extremely blustery, with the wind coming from the opposite direction than that normally seen at the Oaktree Arena, and as a result the track was drying out fast, causing much more dust than you would normally see at the circuit, which made visibility difficult for some of the riders, especially when not disputing the lead. Heat 12 saw Rory Schlein dispute the early running with Charles Wright, whom he tried to clamp hard to the kerb. Wright had other ideas and muscled his way to the front. The pair then engaged in a stunning battle of passing, as both hit the front over and over again. It seemed that the lead changed at almost every turn. Wright appeared to have won the battle, but he hadn't counted on a stunning inside pass from his opponent. Wright had cut back hard onto the back straight on the final lap, to grab back the lead from Schlein, before moving wide to cut off the reply, but the reply came from the other direction, as the experienced Australian made a fabulous cut back to sweep inside Wright and cut off his exit from the turn, as they headed to the flag. Ellis Perks took third from Jan Graversen, who later admitted that he was disappointed not to score in the heat, after being unable to see his line in the dust cloud.

The Rebels badly needed a heat advantage, and when the tapes went up for Heat 13, it looked as though they had secured all the points, with Josh Grajczonek and Rohan Tungate heading affairs. However, Robert Lambert had other ideas and went grass tracking in the turn. Keeping the bike in tight, with the front half of his machine well over the white line, he guided through to the front. Grajczonek didn’t allow him to get away, as he took to the wide outside to deliver his bid to regain the lead. Coming with a wet sail, Grajczonek charged around the fence line, and as they hit the home straight again, he powered by Lambert to lead the field again. Rohan Tungate was now in full flow and got up the inside of Lambert on the third turn of the second lap, but the young Brit had his measure and repelled the challenge. Richie Worrall never got into the race after making a poor start, and the Rebels ran out a 4-2 advantage, which left them needing two maximums if they were to steal away the win.

Wolverhampton replaced Nathan Greaves with Ellis Perks in Heat 14, a move which proved decisive for the final outcome of the meeting. At the tapes the Rebels duo of Patrick Hougaard and Jake Allen were quickly away, leading up on maximum points, as Jacob Thorssell fell out of the gate. Perks was soon on Allen’s case and showed better pace to shoot by his Rebels counterpart. Allen wasn’t done though and came charging back at Perks, looking for a way back to second. He pushed and probed, but Perks had him covered all, ways up. Allen threw in a final massive charge, as they rounded the final turns of the race, coming off the final turn; he closed with every turn of this wheel, but eventually came up just short as Perks held on.

With the match points heading back to Monmore Green, it was now a matter of pride for the Rebels to prevent them taking all four match points. Garry May sent out Patrick Hougaard and Josh Grajczonek, whilst unsurprisingly, Peter Adams Rory Schlein and Jacob Thorssell. Grajczonek was fast off the gate, cutting to the inside from Gate 4, to lead all the way, with Schlein and Thorssell following up. Hougaard came with a run down the back straight, passing Thorssell to take third and give the Rebels the advantage. Thorssell looked to have been eclipsed by Hougaard, but found a route back to third as they raced along the back straight on Lap 3. With Grajczonek comfortably holding Schlein, the final race points were shared, leaving the visiting Wolverhampton Wolves to take 3-match points, 44-49.

As with previous weeks, there had been some fabulous racing, but once again the visitors had carried off the match points, which must be leaving The Rebels management team feeling very frustrated, as they know that the team is not too far away from being a successful one.

The visitors had given an all-round in depth performance, with Rory Schlein providing top score, with 11-points, despite a bad start to his night. The guest had all done their job, providing good points and Kyle Howarth had once again shown his liking for the Oaktree Arena circuit, with his paid 9-points.

Josh Grajczonek once again played his captain's role to the full, with a 15-point haul, including a tactical win. He was ably back up by Patrick Hougaard (10-points), and Jan Graversen (7-points), whilst Charles Wright must consider himself unlucky not to have banked the points he deserved. Rohan Tungate (5-points) showed much more speed than he had been able to muster so far, and was never far from the action, but he now needs to polish up his gating boots if he is to fully regain his 2016 form. Whatever ails Paul Starke continued, with more mechanical problems restricting his undoubted scoring ability.

With his two heat wins and a 7-point haul, the Somerset ‘Rider of the Night’ award went deservedly to Jan Graversen, and was presented by Andrew March, on behalf of the ‘Halfway Boys’ skittle team, who made the choice, and were enjoying an evening of hospitality at the arena. When interviewed, Jan Graversen said that he was pleased to have made some good starts, and ridden some good opening turns, but was disappointed not to have scored in his last heat, as he could not see the line due to the visibility, but was pleased with his overall performance after a year out of the sport.

The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels now have a tough match on the road, as they visit Monmore Green on Monday for the return fixture. With no meeting scheduled for next Friday, the next action at the Oaktree Arena will be on Friday 19th May, when the Rebels entertain the Rye House Rockets, giving the fans the opportunity to see former Grand Prix stars, Chris Harris and Scott Nicholls inn action.

Somerset Rebels - 44
1 Rohan Tungate - 1, 2, 1, 1 = 5
2 Paul Starke - R, 0, 0 = 0
3 Charles Wright - 1*, 0, FX, 2 = 3+1
4 Patrick Hougaard - 2, 3, 2, 3, 0 = 10
5 Josh Grajczonek - 3, R, 6^, 3, 3 = 15
6 Jake Allen - 1, 1, 1, 0, 1 = 4
7 Jan Graversen - 3, 1, 3, 0 = 7

Wolverhampton Wolves - 49
1 Robert Lambert (G) - 3, 2, 1*, 2 = 8+1
2 Kyle Howarth - 2*, 1*, 2, 2 = 7+2
3 Rory Schlein - 0, 3, 3, 3, 2 = 11
4 Jacob Thorssell - 3, 2*, 2*, 0, 1* = 8+3
5 Richie Worrall (G) - 2, 3, 3, 0 = 8
6 Ellis Perks (G) - 2, 1, 1, 1, 2 = 7
7 Nathan Greaves - 0, 0, 0, (EP-2) = 0

SCB Referee: Willie Dishington

Heat Details
Heat 01: Lambert, Howarth, Tungate, Starke (Retired) (1-5) (1-5) 57.25
Heat 02: Graversen, Perks, Allen, Greaves (4-2) (5-7) 57.81
Heat 03: Thorssell, Hougaard, Wright, Schlein (3-3) (8-10) 58.25
Heat 04: Grajczonek, Worrall, Graversen, Greaves (4-2) (12-12) 57.19
Heat 05: Hougaard, Lambert, Howarth, Wright (3-3) (15-15) 58.07
Heat 06: (Re-Run): Worrall, Tungate, Perks, Starke (2-4) (17-19) 57.35
Heat 07: Schlein, Thorssell, Allen, Grajczonek (Retired) (1-5) (18-24) 58.22
Heat 08: Graversen, Howarth, Allen, Greaves (4-2) (22-26) 58.13
Heat 09: Worrall, Hougaard, Perks, Wright (Fell/Excluded) (2-4) (24-30) AWARDED
Heat 10: Schlein, Thorssell, Tungate, Starke (1-5) (25-35) 58.19
Heat 11: Grajczonek (Tactical), Howarth, Lambert, Allen (6-3) (31-38) 58.22
Heat 12: Schlein, Wright, Perks, Graversen (2-4) (33-42) 59.16
Heat 13: Grajczonek, Lambert, Tungate, Worrall (4-2) (37-44) 58.50
Heat 14: Hougaard, Perks, Allen, Thorssell (4-2) (41-46) 59.19
Heat 15: Grajczonek, Schlein, Thorssell, Hougaard (3-3) (44-49) 58.44

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