SGB Championship

Somerset Rebels 54, Eastbourne 36

SPEEDWAY and Somerset were the two winners at the Oaktree on Wednesday while Eastbourne and Henry Atkins were the losers, writes Stephen Allen.

The Rebels inflicted a 54-36 defeat on their Sussex rivals, but promising young Rebels reserve Atkins had to withdraw from the meeting after completing just one ride due to a shoulder injury.

The 18-year old couldn't avoid clipping the rear of Eagles' guest Connor Coles machine in heat four and high-sided off the bike, landing heavily on his shoulder rendering himself unfit to continue racing.

But the Rebels united as a side and the remaining six riders put on a top quality show to outclass the visitors.

In the re-run of heat 4, following Atkins' crash, Chris Harris stormed round the first arc to beat ex-Rebel Richard Lawson in a very fast time.

In the following heat German Valentin Grobauer went even faster, bettering Harris' time (56.38) by one-tenth of a second.

Heat six had Rory Schlein going even quicker (56.06) as his partner Todd Kurtz found his way "through the Woods" (to beat Georgie) into the daylight of third place.

Harris gave all Rebels fans a heart-stopping moment as he sought his way by Lewis Kerr in heat seven whilst heat eight was all about the passing move delivered by Anders Rowe that, along with Todd Kurtz's race win, gave the Rebels their first heat maximum and extended the lead to 29-19.

A terrific start by Nico Covatti in heat nine consigned Lawson to his third successive second place whilst the track maintenance crew were left wishing they had fitted Rory Schlein's dirt deflector with a paintbrush, for he rode such a wide line that he could have whitened the kickboards in his successful quest to get by Lewis Kerr in heat 10 and join Kurtz on another Rebels 5-1.

Harris negated Edward Kennett's flying start in heat 11 and Rowe picked off Alfie Bowtell as still the Rebels built their lead (42-24) and Grobauer was superb in beating tactical substitute Lawson in the 12th heat which had both sides sharing the points.

The Eagles' only heat advantage came in 13 as Kennett again got out the traps smartly, Schlein's early pressure petering out as he pulled up without completing the distance.

Kennett's win ended Harris' maximum hopes but Covatti and Rowe restored Somerset's 18 point lead by responding with a penultimate heat 4-2 before Harris returned to winning ways to close the meeting with an academic shared heat as the three league points had already been assured of going to the home side.

Rebels boss Garry May said: "It was disappointing to lose Henry and hopefully we won't have to be without him for too long.

"We have nothing until next week's meeting now but it is far too early to say whether he will be fit or not.

"But the lads put on a good show and by allowing the track to settle down on its own accord I think we benefitted with a great show of speedway.

"We had a lot of sponsors and guests in tonight and I can only hope that they will have enjoyed the fare that we served up for them on track."

Scores: Somerset - 54: C.Harris 14 (3,3,3,2,3), N.Covatti 10 (3,1,3,3,R), T.Kurtz 9 (2,1,3,3), V.Grobauer 8 (1,3,1,3), A.Rowe 6+1 (2,0,2',1,0,1), R.Schlein 6+2 (1',3,2',R), H.Atkins 1+1 (1',FD)

Eastbourne - 36: R.Lawson 11 (2,2,2,2,1,2), E.Kennett 11+1 (3,2,2,3,1'), L.Kerr 5+1 (2,2,R,1'), B.Morley 4+1 (0,1',1,2), G.Wood 3 (3,F,R), C.Coles (G) 2+1 (0,1',1,0), A.Bowtell 0 (0,0,0,0)