SGB Premiership

Somerset Rebels 47, Belle Vue Aces 43

'CASES' Somerset Rebels skipper Jason Doyle displayed all the qualities which have made him the current speedway World Champion as he led the Rebels to a hard-fought win over Belle Vue, writes Stephen Allen.

Doyle led from the front with a superb five-ride maximum in a match which entered its final heat with every eventual outcome a possibility.

Going into the meeting minus their injured reserve duo Bradley Wilson-Dean and Jonas Jeppesen, the first half of the match was a case of ‘honours even’ as Somerset held an initial four-point advantage, only for the Aces to reply in kind to level the scores at 21-21 after the first seven heats.

Successive maximum heat wins for the Rebels courtesy of Jack Allen and guest Todd Kurtz in heat 8 and the Jack Holder/Charles Wright combination in heat 9 put Somerset in the ascendency, and with Doyle taking his third race win of the night in heat 10, things were looking very good for the home fans with their Rebels side now 10 points to the good.

But the home fans’ delight was quickly quelled as Belle Vue hit back with successive maximum heat wins of their own to close that Somerset lead down to a mere two points with just three heats remaining.

With heats 13 and 14 both seeing a share of the spoils, it meant that as the riders came to the tapes for the final race of the night, the final result was still in the balance, and, as befitting what had been an excellent night’s racing, heat 15 proved to be a classic.

Crucially for the Rebels, as the tapes rose, Doyle hit the front but he came under tremendous pressure from both Craig Cook and Max Fricke for the Aces, with Jack Holder right on the tails of the Belle Vue pair.

With Doyle using all his skill and Oaktree Arena track craft, he held off the twin-pronged Aces attack to take the race win by the narrowest of margins, while Holder made a swoop off the final bend to snatch third place from Fricke on the line to ensure victory went the way of the Rebels.

Commenting on the night’s entertainment, Sam Abbott of TQ Exel was keen to praise the track staff and management at the club.

He said: “What a thoroughly entertaining meeting we have just witnessed. It is so good to be associated with a club that meets challenges head on.

"They promised us that they were going to address the problems that had given cause for a few complaints in the last couple of weeks, and address it they certainly did!

"Somerset fans and sponsors should be extremely proud of this club. We have had a great night of racing and it was lovely to see such a closely fought match on a fantastically prepared track. We saw some outstanding performances from our riders.”

Speaking of those performances Garry May initially focussed on the efforts of his reserve stand-ins, Todd Kurtz and James Shanes.

“It was always going to be difficult going into the match without Bradley and Jonas but our two guest riders, Todd and Shanesy both rode their socks off for us, and I would like to thank them for their efforts tonight.”

“All the rest of the boys chipped in with extremely valuable contributions, but what can you say about Doyley, he was just immense tonight with his well-deserved maximum. 

"It has taken Jason a little while to settle back into riding at the Oaktree Arena, but he showed tonight just what an excellent signing he has been for the club. 

"We knew that it was going to be tough tonight ask against a strong Belle Vue side, but Jason led from the front with a tremendous display of riding to see us over the line and maintain our 100% home record.”

Somerset 47: Jason Doyle 15 (maximum), Jack Holder 8+1, Todd Kurtz 7+1, Richard Lawson 6, Charles Wright 5+1, Jake Allen 5, James Shanes 1+1.
Belle Vue 43: Craig Cook 14+1, Rohan Tungate 9, Max Fricke 8+2, Dan Bewley 7+1, Jye Etheridge 5+1, Damian Drozdz 0, Steve Worrall r/r.