Winning debut in front of Sky cameras
SPEEDWAY - Somerset Rebels 46 Kings Lynn Stars 44 - A LARGE crowd gathered to witness the first live nationally televised match to be broadcast from the Oak Tree Arena, as the Sky TV roadshow rolled into town.
Somerset Rebels 46Kings Lynn Stars 44A LARGE crowd gathered to witness the first live nationally televised match to be broadcast from the Oak Tree Arena, as the Sky TV roadshow rolled into town. The Highbridge circuit was awash with colour for the event, as the Somerset Sharp Rebels took on the Kings Lynn Roger Warnes Transport Stars in their first Premier League fixture of the season. The hard work of the promotion team, and Rebels staff was rewarded with a crowd swollen with many first-time visitors, which must have been a pleasing sight for all concerned, including the many sponsors who made the night such a resounding success.For many fans the match was expected to be a tough encounter, as the strong Stars team fielded the current Australian sensation, 16-year-old Darcy Ward, while the Rebels were without Simon Walker. Walker's absence, due to an injury picked up in an after race fall last Friday, was a major blow to the home side as he can normally be relied on to pile up the points around the Oak Tree Arena shale. The Stars were also a man down, with Kozza Smith having been injured in the opening weeks of the season while riding for Ipswich, but Smith's absence was not as vital for the visitors, with the prolific Ward at reserve.In the early heats the teams could not be separated, as they shared the first four heats, both providing two heats winners. In Heat 1 the Stars pair of Tomas Topinka and Jan Graversen broke quickly, but Steve Johnston squeezed past Topinka on the second bend. Tom Brown got in one challenge on Graversen, but could not find a way round, leaving the Stars to share the points.Heat 2 gave the crowd their first look at Darcy Ward, and he did not disappoint. The first start was aborted as Graversen jumped the start and went back off a 15-metre handicap. On the re-start Ward bolted from the tapes to lead all the way, Graversen made up the ground by the back straight, but could not pass Tom Brown, In Heat 3, Chris Schramm and Christian Henry led off the start, but Emil Kramer shot through the pair. Behind him, Justin Sedgmen challenged Christian Henry on the third bend, only to be forced wide, but Kramer's dominance saw him pull clear to an easy win from Chris Schramm. Cory Gathercole made his first appearance in Heat 4, as he broke alongside Darcy Ward. Gathercole pulled into the lead off the second bend, Ward chased hard, but Gathercole always had enough in hand to win. Tom Brown got squeezed out on the opening turn, but challenged Emiliano Sanchez for third place. He was held off, but renewed his challenge on the next lap, before having to give best to the Argentinean.At some point someone had to break the deadlock, and it came in Heat 5, as the Stars took the first heat advantage. In the original start Justin Sedgmen got a lift entering the first turn, hitting Jan Graversen, and took a heavy fall that saw him excluded by referee Dale Entwistle.In the re-start Emil Kramer and Tomas Topinka broke level, but Topinka just edged a wheel in front on the back straight, but Kramer was still there on his inside. Topinka eased to the front, but Kramer ran him down and cut up his inside as the pair approached the final bend and the Czech just had enough in hand to hold off Kramer.Heat 6 was shared when Steve Johnston and Jay Herne broke in front. The 5-1 was short lived as Darcy Ward moved up the inside of Herne. He clipped Herne's front wheel in the process, causing the Rebels reserve to lose shape, and drop well behind the field and eventually retire on the last lap. Johnston led from the second turn to win unchallenged.The Rebels squared the match in Heat 7 as Cory Gathercole took a win in the re-run after the first running had been stopped following Chris Schramm's fall. The re-run was a formality for Gathercole, leading before the first bend. Christian Henry took second place from Tom Brown.The Rebels looked up against it in Heat 8, with Justin Sedgmen taking the rider replacement alongside Jay Herne. The Stars tracked Emiliano Sanchez and Darcy Ward, in a pairing that took a maximum advantage. Heat 9 was a warm-up for what was to come, as Emil Kramer broke quickly, but was soon challenged by Darcy Ward. Emiliano Sanchez took advantage of Kramer's battle with Ward to just lead on to the back straight. Kramer roared back to lead over the top of Sanchez and beehind the pair, Justin Sedgmen was pressing Darcy Ward closely. In the end the points were shared, but the heat signalled the start of the meeting's build-up to an exciting, tense crescendo.Heat 10 was the start of the main event, with the Rebels turning a 5-1 deficit into a stunning 5-1 advantage. Chris Schramm led with Christian Henry. Steve Johnston and Cory Gathercole missed the start and were struggling in the rear. On the second lap the Rebels pair started to close down Schramm, and then moved past him and he then retired on the back straight. Johnston set off after Henry, who lost momentum as he made a slight error, and Johnston shot through to lead.Gathercole was still some way behind, but closed on Henry over the last two laps, and passed hime in the dying seconds of the heat.Gathercole had no time to dwell on his stunning pass, as he was back out in the next heat. Up against Tomas Topinka, he had to do it the hard way again. The pair broke level, but Topinka took up the running. Gathercole got in a challenge, but Topinka held him off and pulled out a lead. Behind them Jan Graversen put a superb pass on the Stars number one and give the Rebels a two-point advantage at a crucial stage of the match.The Stars hit straight back with a 4-2 advantage in Heat 12 as they switched reserves, bringing in Darcy Ward to replace Graversen alongside Christian Henry. The Rebels also made a reserve switch, giving Jay Herne two on the trot as he partnered Justin Sedgmen. Ward led a close start from the first bend, from Henry. Sedgmen came through on the inside of the second bend, easily accounting for Henry, who came back at him, getting the better of Sedgmen on the third bend, but his second spot did not last, as Sedgmen quickly regained the place on the home straight. Meanwhile Herne did well to stay on his machine as he made contact with the back straight fence. Sedgmen set off after Ward, and kept Ward up to his work to the flag. The Stars had just levelled the scores again at 36-36.Heat 13 brought the Rebels maximum men back to the tapes. However Tomas Topinka made the gate, next to Johnston and took up the running. Johnston hit back on the third bend, with Topinka coming straight back to lead on the home straight. From there, he pulled clear of Johnston, and looked to have secured the win, until Johno magically found a huge amount of speed, and stormed past Topinka. As Johnston pulled away, Gathercole, who had been in an early challenging position, could not stay with the front two, and had to make do with third place.Just as it looked as though the Rebels had secured the match, everything was turned on its head. In Heat 14, Emil Kramer lifted slightly off the line and Darcy Ward shot into the lead. Jay Herne made a great start to take second from Chris Schramm who swept around the outside of Herne. The maximum advantage stunned the home fans, and gave the Stars a huge boost, and a two-point advantage with just one heat left.In the final heat, the Rebels needed to take the minimum advantage just to draw the match, and a 5-1 would secure what now looked like an unlikely victory. The odds were stacked in Kings Lynn's favour, as they only needed to share the points to win.For the home side Steve Johnston, and Cory Gathercole took to the tapes, against Tomas Topinka, and Chris Schramm. The surprising thing about the final heat was that Rob Lyons had used up all Darcy Ward's available rides before the final heat, and on top of that took gates 2 and 4 after winning the toss. The gate choice was strange when you consider that gate 4 had not produced a winner since Heat 8.The final heat took three starts to be completed. A level break in the first running saw Chris Schramm take the lead. Behind him, Johno and Tomas Topinka arrived at the first turn together, the pair touched and Topinka went down. The race was stopped, and Dale Entwistle took a long hard look at the television replays before he put all four back. In start number two Schramm again made the gate, and again Johnston and Topinka headed for the hills, with the almost inevitable outcome, Topinka fell for a second time. Dale Entwistle deliberated long and hard, and after viewing the incident several times followed his first decision and put all four back. By this time the tension was almost unbearable as the riders came to the line for the third time. The tapes rose and this time Schramm had the company of Gathercole, and the Rebels man moved Schramm wide in a forceful move. At the same time Steve Johnston came roaring around the outside to grab the lead, with Gathercole following him through on the inside. Topinka's race ended at the first turn, but this time it was mechanical rather than physical, as he retired before bend two. Once in front the Rebels pair powered away and posted a match winning 5-1 advantage.Steve Johnston's superb 15-point maximum also won him the rider of the night trophy. Cory Gathercole had given an exciting all-action display, Emil Kramer, despite his unexpected reverse, was his imperious self, and the rest of the team contributed important points at vital times. The star of the show for the visitors was without doubt Darcy Ward. He was ably backed up by Tomas Topinka, Emiliano Sanchez, and to a lesser extent, in the latter stages by Chris Schramm, but Christian Henry and Jan Graversen struggled against the under strength Rebels sextet.Rye House Rockets 55Somerset Rebels 37WITH four matches left in their Premier Trophy campaign, the Rebels were still in the hunt for a semi-final place. The first of those encounters came at Hoddesdon against the Rye House Sliver Ski Rockets, where historically, points have been hard to come by for the Rebels. Both sides ran rider replacement, the Rockets for Linus Sundstrom, and the Rebels were still without Simon Walker. The Rockets were also another rider short through injury, with Josh Auty in as a guest for Tommy Allen. The home side got off to a flying start, taking the first two heats 5-1 they leapt to an early eight-point lead, leaving the Rebels reeling. Chris Neath and Joe Haines did the business in Heat 1, with reserves Andrew Silver and Luke Bowen following up in Heat 2. The Rebels steadied the ship when Emil Kramer took Heat 3 and then gave up the lead to a rampant Robert Mear down the back straight. Kramer then re-took the lead from Mear and was not troubled after that, but the remaining two riders in the race, Josh Auty and Justin Sedgmen, had problems.Heat 4 ended with the unusual score line of 3-2, as first Joe Haines was excluded for falling and stopping the race. Although he did not fall himself, Andrew Silver was the cause of the stoppage, but as there is a rule that says you cannot be excluded for causing your own partner to fall, Haines was excluded by the referee.Silver was also involved in the second exclusion, however this time he was not to blame. With the Rebels on a 5-1 after a quick break, Silver came back at Tom Brown , who, realising he had let Silver in, appeared to try to shut the door, and went down without any contact between the riders. In the second re-run, Silver made a great start to beat Cory Gathercole.Three more shared heats followed with the Rebels trapped out in Heat 5 on a 5-1, with Tom Brown leading at the first turn, and was quickly joined by Steve Johnston. Brown could not hold off the run of Josh Auty who closed down Johno, and made a great outside pass on the final bend of Lap 3.The Rockets took the next heat win as well, in another race that required a re-run after Chris Neath was excluded. Cory Gathercole led into the second turn next to Neath, but had no answer to Josh Auty. Neath just had his nose in front in a tight battle with Gathercole for second place. Gathercole roared up the inside of Neath, and appeared to be just getting the better when he got some lift coming out of the bend.There was no malice in the move, but the loss of control left Neath with nowhere to go, but into the fence, taking a hefty fall in the process and excluded. In the re-run the Rebels pair gated on a 5-1, but Auty produced the same outside run for a lead which he was not to surrender.With Chris Neath taking the rider replacement ride in Heat 8, alongside Andrew Silver, the Rebels pair of Justin Sedgmen (r-r) and Tom Brown looked to be up against it, and so it proved. The Rockets duo made a fast gate and that was the race over, despite Sedgmen getting in a good challenge.Cory Gathercole demonstrated his all-action style in Heat 9 as he gave the Rebels their first heat advantage of the night, but again it took two attempts to complete the race. With Jay Herne leading, Robert Mear had got out of shape and fell, causing Josh Auty, who was close behind, to have to lay the bike down.Mear was excluded from the re-run, in which Herne again made a flying start. Auty repeated his earlier sweeping move to lead down the back. Gathercole chased him down, and just got up on the line, punching the air as he took the flag.With 11 points between the teams at Heat 10, Ronnie Russell sent Emil Kramer out, donned in the Black and White, but things did not work out the way he wanted. Kramer missed the start completely, and was shut out at the back. He cut inside to challenge Andrew Silver, only for Silver to block his progress. Next he tried the outside route, but Silver saw it coming, and moved wide into Kramer's line, blocking his run for a second time. With time running out Kramer went for it big time but ended with him sliding off in an effort to round Silver. That left the Rockets to take the 5-1-heat advantage.Russell wasted no time in deploying the Black and White again in Heat 11, this time sending out Cory Gathercole. Steve Johnston shot out of the gate to lead at the start. Gathercole came right around the outside to take up the running on the way to the third turn. With the Rebels on an 8-1, Luke Bowen emerged as the challenger to Johno. In hindsight, maybe Johnston would have chosen a wider line, as it was he stuck to the inside, leaving Bowen the outside to complete his pass, which he did with ease. Gathercole was gone by this time, and despite a determined chase from Bowen, he was never troubled in taking a doubled up win. At the back Johno was in a safe third until almost in the shadow of the line, where he got out of shape, hit the fence, and just held on from Haines.Heat 12 was shared with Jay Herne making another fast start to lead from Josh Auty who was on the chase for all four laps, hunting down Herne. Herne rode a superb race and his positioning was spot on to answer all the question Auty asked of him.The last three heats all went the Rockets way as the Hoddesdon outfit tied up all the available points. Joe Haines took Heat 13 after Cory Gathercole had ridden a fantastic opening outside turn. Chris Neath took third spot to give the Rockets the advantage.Jay Herne took the ride in Heat 14 in place of Tom Brown, but was swamped at the first bend by the rest of the field, leaving Robert Mear, Luke Bowen and Emil Kramer three abreast around the opening turns. With the Rockets pair on either side of Kramer it was always going to be tight. As they entered the final turns, Bowen blocked off Kramer's run at Mear, and it was race over, with the Rockets taking another maximum to tie up the points.The final heat went 4-2 to the Rockets, with Chris Neath coming from behind Steve Johnston on the second bend to lead down the back straight to take the win. Behind the pair Emil Kramer just shaded Andrew Silver until Silver put a hard move. Kramer came back but was just short as the chequered flag fell for the final time. Johnston's inclusion in the heat was a surprise to most of those watching, considering he had suffered a quiet night. Apparently Gathercole was expected to take the place, but his ignition timing fell to pieces in his hand as he was trying to adjust it for the final race.For the Rebels, Cory Gathercole added to his already burgeoning reputation, Jay Herne scored 5+1, but the way he gated all night should have seen him with a much better return, Emil Kramer started like a house on fire, but was caught out later on. The rest had nights they would probably want to forget.Newport Wasps 46Somerset Rebels 46THE Rebels took two points from this Premier Trophy clash with Newport to stay in contention for a semi-final berth, but it could have been so much more.On a track where gating was the key, Somerset found themselves eight points down after just two heats, Newport adapting the slick conditions far better.The rot was stopped somewhat in Heat 3 when Emil Kramer took the win, and with ex-Rebel Paul Fry coming to grief on the second turn of lap 2, it handed third place to Somerset's Justin Sedgmen which cut the deficit to six points.Somerset's Cory Gathercole found himself forced wide into the first turn of Heat 4, and it looked as if Newport were to record their third maximum heat win of the afternoon as Werner and Holder occupied the first two places. But in one of the rare pieces of overtaking, Gathercole wound on the power and swept from fourth to second round the pits turn and with Holder lifting badly just as Gathercole came past, it allowed Tom Brown through into third place and a share of the points.Two heats later, Newport had extended their lead to 10 points, Werner and Lemon making the gate and this time Gathercole was given no opportunity to mount a challenge on the home duo.Somerset team manager Ronnie Russell wasted no time in sending out Emil Kramer for a Black and White double point tactical ride in Heat 7, but although he had to give second best to Werner, with Justin Sedgmen following home his team-mate in third place, the move was a partial success with Somerset cutting the Newport lead to eight points.Although meetings are won and lost over the full 15 heats, there are quite often defining moments in a match and Heat 8 was to be one of those moments. With Newport bringing in their number 1, Mark Lemon for his rider replacement ride to partner James Holder, they must have held high hopes of further extending their lead up against the relatively inexperienced Somerset pairing of Justin Sedgmen and Tom BrownAs it was, Sedgmen made a lightening start and never gave Lemon the opportunity to mount a challenge to take a vital heat win which was further enhanced with Tom Brown holding off Holder for third place.The next three heats all brought further 4-2 heat advantages to the Rebels, with the result that from being 10 points in arrears after heat six, just five heats later Somerset had brought themselves level with the scores standing at 34-all.The Newport fans must have then thought that their side had struck the telling blow when guest Joe Haines and James Holder took a maximum 5-1 race win in Heat 12, but the Rebels immediately hit back, Gathercole and Johnston replying in kind just a heat later.Two heats to go and the scores level, Heat 14 was to prove crucial to the final outcome. In the first attempt to run it, Fry came to grief on the first turn, but with the Somerset duo of Kramer and Herne seemingly on their way to a 5-1, referee Margaret Vardy called a halt to proceedings and ordered a re-run with all four riders.At the second time of asking, Kramer and Herne got themselves to the front, Kramer trying to shepherd his young team-mate ahead of the omnipresent Fry. As the three came off the fourth turn on Lap 2, Fry saw his chance as Herne left the smallest of gaps on the outside, and before he could close the door, Fry was through and into the lead, to keep the match scores level.And so it was that the two sides came to the tapes for the 15th and final heat all level, Lemon and Fry carrying the hopes of the home supporters with Kramer and Gathercole providing the opposition.As it was, the race was an anti-climax, as the start proved to be all-important, and Lemon made it to the first bend, neither Kramer nor Gathercole able to make a serious challenge on the Newport skipper. In the final analysis, a draw was perhaps a fair result.The Rebels start their defence of the Premier League Knockout Cup this week with home and away ties with the Glasgow A Plant Tigers, the first leg being at the Oak Tree Arena on Friday with the second being staged at Glasgow's Ashfield Stadium two days later on Sunday, May 10.