Friday July 07, 2017
With SGB Premiership fixtures on hold as the Speedway World Cup took centre stage, speedway fans who were missing their regular ‘Methanol Fix’ got the opportunity to watch some of Britain’s ‘Young Guns’ in action, as ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels put on a National League level challenge match against the Isle of Wight Warriors.

Both teams were made up of riders who are eligible to ride in, or are current National League riders. The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels Select tracked a couple of faces well known to regular Rebels supporters, as the newly crowned British Under 19 Champions and 2016 Rebel, Zach Wajtknecht led the home team, with former Somerset team mascot, and now successful Plymouth Devil, Henry Atkins taking the number six spot. Atkins was joined by Plymouth team mates, Adam Roynon and Callum Walker, with Ryan Terry-Daley, Dan Greenwood and Luke Priest making up the remainder of the septet. The visiting Warriors tracked regulars Ben Wilson, James Cockle, and Connor Coles, with guest Mark Baseby, Ben Morley Lewis Whitmore, and late addition Adam Portwood filling the other steam spots.

Another new face appeared in the Somerset ranks, as the home side took to the track under the control of guest Team Manager, Sam Abbot. Sam is not only a regular at the Oaktree Arena, but also one of the clubs family of fantastic sponsors, via his company TQ Exel, and is a self-confessed ‘Petrol Head. When he found out that there was an opportunity to manage the Rebels, he jumped at the chance, saying, ‘It was too good an opportunity to miss. Sam said he was looking forwards to working with Garry May, with whom he shares a recently celebrated Birthday, and thought that the ‘Birthday Boys’ would be a superb combination, and hard to resist.

Sam’s tenure as Rebels team manager didn’t get off to the start he would have wanted, as Mark Baseby flew off the gate to lead up and defeat the new British U19 Champion, Zach Wajtknecht. Baseby didn’t have it all his own way though, as Wajtknecht, who was just edged out in a tight first turn, harried him all the way. Wajtknecht was all over Baseby back wheel, and was never more than a length behind, but just couldn’t find a way to the front. Ben Wilson took a comfortable third, as Ryan Terry-Daley fell and remounted, to give the Warriors the early lead.

It didn’t take long for Abbot’s men to rectify that early reverse, with Henry Atkins and Callum Walker combining for the Rebels first maximum advantage of the night. The pair were rapidly out of the gate, and after seeing off Adam Portwood and Lewis Whitmore through the opening turns, they went on to record a comfortable win. Adam Portwood’s cause wasn’t helped with a second lap fall, but he quickly remounted to complete the race.

The Rebels followed up with two heat advantages to pull 6-points clear after Heat 4. The first of these came as a fast starting Dan Greenwood got the better of an early battle with Warriors skipper James Cockle, leading on the wide line out of the first bend. Luke Priest made up for a slow start as he roared into third down the back straight, and was holding the place comfortably when his rival, Connor Coles, dramatically slowed on Lap 3 and retired.

It was three abreast into the first turn in Heat 4, with Adam Roynon, Ben Morley and Callum Walker battling for supremacy in a tight first bend. Roynon came out on top, with a sweeping wide move, leading Morley onto the back straight. Once at the head of affairs Roynon put the issue beyond doubt after the second lap, and as Callum Walker took a relaxed third place, the Rebels added to their advantage.

With things seemingly going swimmingly for the new Rebels manager, the Warriors put a spoke in his wheels, hitting back with a maximum advantage in Heat 5. Mark Baseby and Ben Wilson rocketed from the gate to lead up, with Baseby hitting the front in turn one. The pair started to pull away from the second lap, until Wilson made a mistake on the second bend of the penultimate lap, running very wide and giving Luke Priest the opportunity to close up, but he had so much in hand, and despite the gap being reduced, it was nowhere near enough to affect the result.

The Rebels quickly answered with a 4-2 advantage in the next, courtesy of jet propelled start from skipper, Zach Wajtknecht. He was soon pulling away, leaving Ryan Terry-Daley and Ben Morley to contest second spot. Morley overcame Terry-Daley down the back straight, but he had no answer to Wajtknecht’s lightning speed, as the Rebels man pulled further and further away to record a very fast 57.62 sec. To put that time into perspective, it was 0.2 sec faster than the fastest time recorded in the Rebels recent SGB Premiership match against the Leicester Lions.

Over the next four heats the match went into stalemate, with neither team able to take the initiative. Heat 7 saw Adam Roynon bolt from the tapes to lead all the way to take the win from James Cockle. Adam Portwood replaced Connor Coles, and took third place after Henry Atkins machine expired in a cloud of smoke as the tapes rose.

A very tight first turn saw Mark Baseby just get the better of Rebels duo Ryan Terry-Daley and Callum Walker in Heat 8. Baseby emerged from the closely fought three way battle as they hit the second turn, and once at the head of affairs he soon put distance between himself and his pursuers, and by the flag he was well clear with the two Rebels filling the places.

Heat 9 was pulled back for an unsatisfactory start, following a rapid exit from the gate by Ben Morley. In the re-run all went to the satisfaction of referee Ronnie Allan, but again it was Morley showing the quickest way off the line, leaving the home pairing of Dan Greenwood and Luke Priest floundering in his wake, as the points were shared.

The Warriors looked to have broken the deadlock in Heat 10, as James Cockle led up Zach Wajtknecht, but it didn’t take Rebels skipper too long to rectify that issue, streaking past Cockle on the back straight, before pulling away to win unchallenged in another sub 58 second time of 57.81 sec. Connor Coles, now back in the fray got the better of Ryan Terry-Daley for third and a share of the points.

The Warriors broke the deadlock in Heat 11, taking the race 4-2 to close the gap to just two points. Abbot swapped his reserves for this race, bringing in Callum Walker for Henry Atkins. The race provided some superb racing as Ben Wilson led up from Adam Roynon and Mark Baseby. Baseby powered down the back straight, not only flying by Roynon, but his run continued to carry him to the front and relegate Wilson to second. Not to be outdone, Roynon poured on the coals, and was soon pressuring Wilson over the next couple of laps. As they approached the line to start Lap 3, Roynon speared through the tightest of gaps on the outside of Wilson to grab second place, and set off in pursuit of Baseby, but the Warriors man was already gone for all money, and ran out a handy winner.

The Rebels reversed the reserve switch in Heat 12, bringing Henry Atkins back into action. As the tapes rose Dan Greenwood and James Cockle disputed the early running, with Cockle just prevailing at the second turn. As they hit the first turn next time round Greenwood launched a hard attack up the inside of Cockle, but was beaten off. Undeterred he pressed Cockle all the way. Greenwood repeated the move on the next two laps. Lap three saw him repelled again, but going out onto the final lap his perseverance finally paid off, hitting the front after another hard charge up Cockles inner proved successful. After the pass he moved Cockle wide to prevent any retaliation, and his race was won. Atkins took an easy third spot to restore the Rebels four point advantage.

Heat 13 provided what was probably the race of the night, as the Warriors duo of Ben Wilson and Ben Morley led up to give them hopes of wiping out the Rebels lead. As the pair led down the back straight, Adam Roynon came charging up on their back wheels, before passing both in one sweeping move, in the same, place a lap later. At the same time Zach Wajtknecht made his move, charging by Ben Wilson before the third bend of lap 2. He then set off in pursuit of Morley, closing him down as the powered down the back straight on the final lap. Roynon realised what was on, and cleverly slowed Morley, just as Wajtknecht was making a power packed outside charge on the final two bends. With Roynon dictating the pace, Wajtknecht powered around the outside, closing Morley with every turn of the wheel, until the pair flashed over the line, with nothing between them. To the delight of the Somerset fans, and no doubt the ‘Birthday Boys’ back in the pits, Ronnie Allan announced the result of Roynon first and Wajtknecht second, giving the Rebels an 8-point lead at the crucial moment.

Almost as if the flood gates had opened, the home side piled in another maximum in the very next heat. Henry Atkins and Luke Priest flew from the tapes to lead all the way. Atkins just led in the opening turn, and with Priest on his wheel, Atkins pulled away to a bloodless victory. Priest looked comfortable in second spot, but Connor Coles put in a big effort on the final lap, closing the gap on Priest, but in truth the Rebels man had too much in hand and eased home for the ‘Full House’.

The Final race saw Abbot send out Zach Wajtknecht and Adam Roynon, with Barry Bishop tracking the unbeaten Mark Baseby, still on for a full maximum, and James Cockle for the Warriors. When the taped flew, it was Wajtknecht and Roynon who were first to react, jetting from the gate to lead up to the turn. Baseby threw in a challenge to Roynon on the second bend, but was easily beaten off. With the home pair now flying away, James Cockle took a fall on the second lap, and exited to the centre green. With Wajtknecht on the inner and Roynon powering around the outside line, disaster hit for the Barrow-in-Furness born rider, when he appeared to overcook it as they entered the third lap, straightened up, and ploughed into the second bend air fence, in a nasty looking fall. Fortunately he was soon on his feet and appeared no worse for wear, walking back to the pits unaided. With Wajtknecht well clear, the race was awarded 3-2 to the Rebels to bring down the curtain on an entertaining evenings racing, with the Rebels taking the win 51-38.

The final score flattered the home side somewhat, as the Warriors gave a good account of themselves, with the meeting only slipping away from them in the final three heats. Rebels ‘Team manager for the Night’, Sam Abbot, admitting afterwards, that at 34-32 at Heat 11 he was a little worried that he may not mark his debut with a Rebels win, but in the end he needn’t have worried as his team did him proud over the closing heats. For the visitors, Mark Baseby, 14-points, was superb, almost going unbeaten through the whole meeting, with Heat 15 as the only blot on an almost perfect race card. He was ably supported by James Cockle and Ben Morley, who posted 8-points apiece.

For the Rebels, there were some fine performances, with Adam Roynon hitting 11pts, Dan Greenwood supported with 8pts, as did Henry Atkins, who posted a creditable 7pts, including two heat wins from reserve, However top honours went to Zach Wajtknecht with fabulous 13+1, dropping only one point to an opponent, and including two sub 58 second wins, to add to his maximum British Under 19 Championship winning score, just the evening before at Plymouth’s St Boniface Arena.

The next action at the Oaktree Arena will be the SGB Championship Pairs, on July 21st, the eve of the British Speedway Grand Prix in Cardiff. The event is shaping up to be superb affair with one of the best looking fields for some time, and with plenty of interest for ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels, with Richard Lawson, Michael Palm-Toft, Lewis Kerr, Charles Wright and Josh Grajczonek, all set to represent their Championship clubs, as well as there being a number of former Rebels in the line-up.

Somerset Rebels - 51
1. Zach Wajtknecht - 2, 3, 3, 2*, 3 = 13+1
2. Ryan Terry-Daley - 0, 1, 2, 0 = 3
3. Dan Greenwood - 3, 0, 2, 3 = 8
4. Luke Priest - 1, 1, 1*, 2* = 5+2
5. Adam Roynon - 3, 3, 2, 3, X = 11
6. Henry Atkins - 3, R, 1, 3 = 7
7. Callum Walker - 2*, 1, 1*, 0 = 4+2

Isle of Wight Warriors - 38
1. Ben Wilson - 1, 2*, 1, 0 = 4+1
2. Mark Baseby (Guest) - 3, 3, 3, 3, 2 = 14
3. James Cockle - 2, 2, 2, 2, F = 8
4. Connor Coles - R, 1*, 1 = 2+1
5. Ben Morley (Guest) - 2, 2, 3, 1 = 8
6. Adam Portwood (Guest) - 0, 0, 1*, 0, 0 = 1+1
7. Lewis Whitmore - 1, 0, 0, 0 = 1

SCB Referee: Ronnie Allan

Heat Details
Heat 01: Baseby, Wajtknecht, Wilson, Terry-Daley (Fell, remounted) (2-4) (2-4) 58.25
Heat 02: Atkins, Walker, Whitmore, Portwood (Fell, remounted) (5-1) (7-5) 60.84
Heat 03: Greenwood, Cockle, Priest, Coles (Ret) (4-2) (11-7) 59.75
Heat 04: Roynon, Morley, Walker, Whitmore (4-2) (15-9) 59.10
Heat 05: Baseby, Wilson, Priest, Greenwood (1-5) (16-14) 59.62
Heat 06: Wajtknecht, Morley, Terry-Daley, Portwood (4-2) (20-16) 57.62
Heat 07: Roynon, Cockle, Portwood, Atkins (Ret) (3-3) (23-19) 59.06
Heat 08: Baseby, Terry-Daley, Walker, Whitmore (3-3) (26-22) 59.81
Heat 09: Morley, Greenwood, Priest, Portwood (3-3) (29-25) 60.06
Heat 10: Wajtknecht, Cockle, Coles, Terry-Daley (3-3) (32-28) 57.94
Heat 11: Baseby, Roynon, Wilson, Walker (2-4) (34-32) 59.82
Heat 12: Greenwood, Cockle, Atkins, Portwood (4-2) (38-34) 60.94
Heat 13: Roynon, Wajtknecht, Morley, Wilson (5-1) (43-35) 60.22
Heat 14: Atkins, Priest, Coles, Whitmore (5-1) (48-36) 61.60
Heat 15: Awarded: Wajtknecht, Baseby, Roynon Fell, excluded), Cockle (Fell) (3-2) (51-38)

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