Cases Somerset Rebels built on the success of last weekend's Northern tour with a 53-41 Premier League success over Berwick Bandits at the Oaktree Arena on Friday night (writes Dave Thompson).
The Bandits included new signings Nicki Barrett, and Micky Dyer, while the Rebels also tracked guests Carl Wilkinson and James Sarjeant, and operated rider replacement for Kyle Newman, Tom Perry and Sam Masters respectively, who were all on World Under-21 duty at Coventry.
The Rebels, despite an early reverse in Heat 2, were always in control of the match, and by Heat 6 had opened up an eight-point lead, which was then pushed to 10 points in Heat 9.
Jason Doyle and Alex Davies got the ball rolling in Heat 1, with a flying start that saw them lead into the opening turn on a 5-1. David Bellego had other ideas, and stormed past Davies as they exited the second turn, chasing down Doyle in the process.
Bellego stuck to Doyle for a couple of laps, and was probably closest on the penultimate lap, but was never close enough to trouble Doyle to the flag. Davies chased hard in third, and had to fend off a late challenge from Stuart Robson before taking third place.
The start of Heat 2 was a twitchy affair, with all four riders moving at the tapes. James Sarjeant was the unfortunate one, who succumbed to the movement, and jumped into the tapes. In the restart it was Micky Dyer and Klaus Jakobsen who got the better of a level break, but Carl Wilkinson soon moved into second at the expense of Jakobsen.
Sarjeant started off 15 metres, but by the third turn he was on Jakobsen’s back wheel, and spent the remainder of the race, putting the Dane under extreme pressure, but couldn’t find a way by. Wilkinson also gave good chase to Dyer, but again found the Bandit too good, as the scores were levelled.
Alex Davies, who had been the star of the Northern tour, took the replacement ride in Heat 3, but had to be content with another third place finish. James Wright flew from the traps to lead up with Nicki Barrett, and just got over the top of the Dane, as they entered the first turn, to pull away for a comfortable victory.
Davies was away in third place, but was soon behind Robin Aspegren, as the Swede took third place around the second bend. Davies fought back immediately, and bravely squeezed between Aspegren and the fence on the home straight. Aspegren kept it tight, and the pair raced wheel-to-wheel onto the back straight, where the crowd held their breath as Davies completed his pass with a similar tight run up the fence, to go on and give the Rebels a 4-2 advantage.
Jesper B Monberg had a torrid time on tour, with only the Berwick match giving him a reasonable return. In Heat 4 he made up for lost time as he roared of the gates to lead all the way from the Bandits pairing of Sebastian Alden and Klaus Jakobsen. James Sarjeant made a very slow start, but recovered over the length of the race, and closed down Jakobsen on the final lap, but had left himself too much to do, and looked to run out of speed just at the vital time, as the Bandits shared the points.
Heat 5 saw the Rebels increase their lead, as the rejuvenated James Wright jetted off the tapes to lead all the way from Stuart Robson, who never got in a blow. Carl Wilkinson, taking the replacement ride, was soon challenging for third place, and on the final turn of the lap, he swooped around the outside to demote David Bellego to last place, and position he was not to improve from. Wright, who looked mightily quick, celebrated appropriately, as he mimicked Usain Bolt’s ‘Lightning Bolt’ as he cruised down the back straight on the warm down lap.
A full house followed from the Doyle, and Davies pairing, with Davies taking the starring role. With his mother and sister watching in the stands, Davies rocketed off the line to lead every inch of the way. Doyle was almost as quickly away, as the pair tied up the race from the first turn, for one of the easiest 5-1s you will ever see, with Seb Alden and Micky Dyer toiling in their wake.
The Rebels switched reserves in Heat 7, bringing James Sarjeant in for Wilkinson. Nicki Barrett got a good start to lead off the line, but almost immediately he caught a big lift that halted his progress, and Jesper B Monberg stormed to the front, making sure that the recovering Barrett had to take the longest way round if he wanted the lead back. With Barrett out of the leading picture, Monberg only had Robin Aspegren to deal with, and he did that with some ease as he recorded a fast 58.72.
James Sarjeant again closed down on the third placed rider, but as with his earlier race, he appeared to run out of grunt just as he delivered his challenge. If effort was always rewarded with points Sarjeant would have gone away with a healthy total, but unfortunately for James that’s just not the case.
Despite three superb rides, including a fantastic win in Heat 6, Alex Davies once again found his Nemesis in Heat 8. As the Bandits duo of David Bellego and Klaus Jakobsen blew away from the gate, Davies suffered an agonisingly slow getaway, and was in last place at the turn.
He was soon passed team mate Carl Wilkinson, and gave chase to Jakobsen, who he ran down and passed on the third lap, but by this time Bellego was in the wind. Earlier in the race, Wilkinson was throwing everything into his chase of Jakobsen and Davies, but in doing so he overcooked it and came down on the third turn of lap two.
He was up almost in one movement, but the damage was done and he pulled off the track to allow the race to continue.
The Rebels further increased their lead in Heat 9 as they banked a second maximum advantage of the evening. For his third straight race, James Wright showed everyone a clean pair of heels from the gate. He was followed up to the turn by team mate, Jesper B Monberg, as Seb Alden’s race ended with some acrobatics at the tapes. With only Micky Dyer giving chase, the Rebels pair cruised to a bloodless 5-1.
With the home side 10 points to the good, the Bandits took the opportunity to use a tactical move, and Robin Aspegren was the person nominated for the ‘Black and White’.
The move was only partially successful as the Bandits prevented the Rebels putting them further in deficit as Aspegren took second and shared the points. The Rebels looked to have completely destroyed the tactical as the ‘Double Ds’, Doyle and Davies breezed to the front in the opening turn, following a level break with Aspegren.
Aspegren never let a gap grow, and was soon out in the dirt, and putting a swooping move on Davies to grab second place at the end of the lap. Although he closed fast on Doyle, the Rebels skipper had it all under control, and cleverly held of the Swede to the flag.
Another advantage followed for the Rebels in Heat 11, as again a potential Rebels full house was thwarted by the Bandits. Carl Wilkinson and Jesper B Monberg blasted from the tapes to lead up, but as Wilkinson headed out into the dirt, Stuart Robson took advantage of the space inside, and cruised into second spot, at Wilkinson’s expense.
Despite the Boston man’s best efforts he could not get back on terms with Robson, but he had enough in hand to see off David Bellego for third place. Monberg was comfortable at the front and never troubled as the Rebels took the advantage.
A second Bandits’ tactical followed immediately, with Micky Dyer being the recipient of the ‘Magic Hat’. The race got off to a jittery start with Nicki Barrett moving as the tapes rose. The Rebels pair of James Wright and Carl Wilkinson, in as a reserve switch, led up.
As in his previous race, Wilkinson headed out into the dirt, and left a gaping hole inside that Dyer was only too happy to fill. As Wright stormed away at the front, Wilkinson was chasing down Dyer, and by the final turn of the next lap. He was up the inside, and pressing hard, but Dyer just had too much speed for him, and repelled the charge.
Wilkinson was not done, and started to explore all lines to find a way back to second, however Dyer had all the answers, and in truth comfortably held Wilkinson’s efforts, to grab a share of the spoils.
Heat 13 was shared as Jason Doyle made a rapid exit from the gate. Jesper B Monberg was just beaten to the drop by the bandits pairing of Stuart Robson and Seb Alden, and the twosome proceeded to team ride the experienced Dane out of the race. That was really the story of the race as the Rebels maintained their 12-point advantage.
James Wright took the replacement ride in Heat 14, and looked to have maintained his unbeaten status as he bolted from the line to lead up, with the busy Carl Wilkinson and Robin Aspegren disputing second spot.
Whilst Wright looked very comfortable at the front, Aspegren moved into second place, and took up the wide line. Racing right in the shadow of the fence, the talented Swede charged around the Highbridge circuit, building up a big head of steam as he went.
Wright had moved from the outside gate, onto the inside line, and it was soon clear that Aspegren had chosen the quicker line, as he closed down the Stockport flyer. By the back straight on the second lap he was on Wrights tail, and two bends later he was in front, with a sweeping move around the fence to lead into the third lap. Wright had no answer as the Bandits man roared clear to take the win, as Wilkinson took third spot to share the points.
The nominated heat brought Jason Doyle and James Wright to the tapes, and the previous heats battle was renewed as the Bandits listed Robin Aspegren and Stuart Robson as their nominees.
Wright could not replicate his earlier flying starts, and was last way from the tapes, whilst Jason Doyle careered off the line to lead up comfortably.
Surprisingly Doyle elected to stay on the inside line, despite having clear air to move wide after the start. Aspegren seized the chance to ride the wide line, and just as in the previous heat he used the line to build up momentum, and by the second lap he was really motoring, and closing rapidly on Doyle, who you would normally expect to occupy the Aspegren line when the dirt and grip allow.
By lap thre he was alongside Doyle and looked as though he would breeze by, but Doyle used all his guile to hold off the initial challenge. In the end Aspegren just had too much speed, and Doyle could not hold the line any longer, as the Swede swept him away, with a huge run around the boards over the final two bends to grab victory on the run to the line.
Meanwhile behind the battling pair, Wright had gathered himself and was rapidly closing on Robson, and with a last gasp charge to the line, he just got up to third place right on the line and maintained the Rebels 12-point advantage.
The meeting was always well under the control of the Cases Somerset Rebels, who never looked in danger of conceding any league points to their opponents.
Having said that, some of the most exciting races of the night had been provided by the Bandits' Robin Aspegren, whose display of riding the boards in the latter part of the meeting was stunning, as he returned 12+1 for his night’s tally.
He was ably backed up by Bandits new boy Micky Dyer, with a respectable eight-point haul from reserve, with both riders including tactical points in their totals.
For the Rebels James Wright topped the score charts, with a 15+1 haul that, not for the first time in recent weeks, won him a very deserved ‘Rider of the Night’ award from the rebels team sponsors, Cases.
He was backed up from all departments of the Rebels team, with Jason Doyle and Jesper B Monberg posting double point scores, 13+1 and 11+1 respectively.
Alex Davies banked another nine points and Carl Wilkinson six points.
James Sarjeant may not have troubled the scorer, but his efforts were greatly appreciated, and he was unfortunate not to make it onto the score chart.
With only one away fixture left for the Rebels, at Scunthorpe on Bank Holiday Monday, the Rebels will now concentrate their efforts into ensuring the put as many home points into the bag as possible as they push for a top two finish for the end of season play-offs.
Plymouth will provide the next home opponents, but not before the Oak Tree Arena hosts the Premier League Pairs Championship, next Friday, on the eve of the British Grand Prix at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
Somerset Rebels - 53
1. Jason Doyle - 3, 2*, 3, 3, 2 = 13+1
2. Alex Davies - 1, 1, 3, 2, 1 = 9
3. James Wright - 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 1* = 15+1
4. Sam Masters – Rider Replacement
5. Jesper B Monberg - 3, 3, 2*, 3, 0 = 11+1
6. Carl Wilkinson (G) - 2, 1, F, 1, 1, 1* = 6+1
7. James Sarjeant (G) - 0, 0, 0 = 0
Berwick Bandits – 41
1. Stuart Robson (G) - 0, 2, 2, 1*, 0 = 5+1
2. David Bellego - 2, 0, 3, 0 = 5
3. Nicki Barrett - 2, 1*, 0, 0 = 3+1
4. Robin Aspegren - 0, 2, 4^, 3, 3 = 12
5. Sebastian Alden - 2, 1, 0, 2 = 5
6. Micky Dyer - 3, 0, 1, 4^ = 8
7. Klaus Jakobsen - 1, 1*, 1, 0 = 3+1
Heat 01: Doyle, Bellego, Davies, Robson (4-2) (4-2) 59.02
Heat 02: Dyer, Wilkinson, Jakobsen, Sarjeant (2-4) (6-6) 59.10
Heat 03: Wright, Barrett, Davies, Aspegren (4-2) (10-8) 59.25
Heat 04: Monberg, Alden, Jakobsen, Sarjeant (3-3) (13-11) 58.85
Heat 05: Wright, Robson, Wilkinson, Bellego (4-2) (17-13) 59.09
Heat 06: Davies, Doyle, Alden, Dyer (5-1) (22-14) 59.01
Heat 07: Monberg, Aspegren, Barrett, Sarjeant (3-3) (25-17) 58.72
Heat 08: Bellego, Davies, Jakobsen, Wilkinson (Fell) (2-4) (27-21) 58.97
Heat 09: Wright, Monberg, Dyer, Alden (5-1) (32-22) 58.53
Heat 10: Doyle, Aspegren (Tactical), Davies, Barrett (4-4) (36-26) 59.52
Heat 11: Monberg, Robson, Wilkinson, Bellego (4-2) (40-28) 59.86
Heat 12: Wright, Dyer (Tactical), Wilkinson, Barrett (4-4) (44-32) 60.85
Heat 13: Doyle, Alden, Robson, Monberg (3-3) (47-35) 60.53
Heat 14: Aspegren, Wright, Wilkinson, Jakobsen (3-3) (50-38) 59.82
Heat 15: Aspegren, Doyle, Wright, Robson (3-3) (53-41) 60.22