South West Challenge
Second leg
Plymouth Gladiators 44, Somerset Rebels Select 45
Somerset win 91-88 on aggregate

WHILE unable to stop Ben Barker scooping a five-ride maximum, the Somerset Select side staged a perfectly-timed comeback to overturn a five-point deficit and run out 45-44 winners on Friday night.

In doing so they claimed the South West Challenge bragging rights 91-88 on aggregate.

Garry May's side suffered a setback in heat three, when leader Valentin Grobauer failed to negotiate the third turn mid-race.

The race was set to continue until Gladiators debutant David Wallinger ran into the rear of Henry Atkins' machine as they crossed the line to start lap three.

Wallinger suffered a bout of concussion and was withdrawn from the meeting, but although Atkins won the re-run the Rebels were still trailing to the opening 5-1 clocked by Barker and Adam Extance.

Todd Kurtz, on the end of that heat one defeat, took the honours next time out, winning heat five, but then Extance conspired with Barker for a 4-2 in heat six, Anders Rowe getting in between them.

A spate of shared heats ensued as the Rebels packed the minor places in each of heats seven, eight and 10, while Rowe won heat nine.

Kurtz and Luke Harris arrested that run with a 4-2 over Nathan Stoneman and Adam Sheppard, then Ryan Terry-Daley and Atkins did likewise over Richard Andrews and Jamie Bursill in the 12th.

Heat 13 proved the turning point, as Stoneman fell under pressure from Kurtz and earned a disqualification through it.

While Barker won the restart, the three points picked up by Kurtz and Rowe kept just one point between the two sides, the Rebels holding a one-point aggregate lead.

Ryan Terry-Daley was drafted in to take on heat 14, and the blonde bombshell didn’t let boss Garry May down, as he battled hard for the point for third to go with Grobauer's heat win.

Leading by three on aggregate, the visitors knew overall victory was theirs provided they held off a 5-1 reversal from heat 15.

Barker was untouchable, but Kurtz and Rowe did an admirable job in keeping out Stoneman to make it a double victory for the Rebels.

May said afterwards: "It was good that we pulled that one back.

"It was looking a bit bleak at one stage but I just told the lads to keep plugging away.

"It was nice to be able to come back here and even nicer to be going home with the win.

"We perhaps could have made it a bit easier had Valentin not fallen in his first ride but again we had a good showing from Anders, and Ryan also weighed in with some crucial points."

May also confirmed that Nico Covatti's injuries from Thursday night at Poole weren't quite as bad as first feared.

"He has told us that he didn't actually puncture his lung but that he had some air trapped in his chest which was making it difficult to breathe," he said.

"He also confirmed he has fractured a rib but is hoping that he will be back some time next month."

The regular Rebels return to action on tonight (June 30), when they visit Sheffield.

Scunthorpe’s Stefan Nielsen has earned a guest call-up for the Rebels as they head to the Steel City, providing cover for injured Covatti.