SGB Championship

Somerset Rebels 55, Birmingham Brummies 35

FOR the second consecutive week, a Rebels rider went into the nominated heat unbeaten from his programmed rides and for much of heat 15 against the Birmingham Brummies it looked as though a personal maximum would be denied them, writes Stephen Allen.

But a splendid piece of riding from Rory Schlein ensured he became the first unbeaten Somerset rider at the Oaktree since his own perfect performance of April 24.

Schlein's paid 15 was the bedrock to the Rebels 195th all-time league win, a 55-35 victory, which had the rider himself admitting: "I need to find more consistency at home.

"I have been pretty happy with my away form to be honest but haven't been getting it right round here."

Another solid contribution from German Valentin Grobauer, after he missed out last week on a maiden maximum, was another source of encouragement for the Rebels fans.

His personal hopes of repeating that previous performance were dashed with an early retirement in his opening ride before dropping just a point in his other three outings.

With Adam Ellis the only rider to defeat the Rebels two Cornishmen-by-birth, guest Ben Barker (three wins and a paid second) and Chris Harris (three wins, a paid win and a second), it was another team effort that saw off the early promise from the Midlanders, operating without Ashley Morris and Tero Aarnio.

Somerset began with a 5-1 from fast trapping Todd Kurtz who had Schlein tucked in behind him and then Anders Rowe produced a good last lap during heat two to pass Danyon Hume and protect the early lead.

The Rebels, having shared heat three due to Barker's win and Grobauer's retirement, looked set to move further ahead in heat four as Henry Atkins was setting the pace out front.

But his entry into the pit turn on lap three went horribly wrong and he was flung into the air barrier.

Grobauer did well to work his way to the front in heat five but he hadn't accounted for an outside re-pass from Adam Ellis but, with Barker overcoming Nick Agertoft for third place, the heat was shared with just four points separating the two sides.

Schlein had Paco Castagna for company throughout heat five but Kurtz's third place meant a heat gain for the home side, a result that two heats later was to be reversed when Birmingham skipper James Shanes made all the running with Kurtz unable to close on him.

Atkins' luckless night continued, however, with a retirement.

A good showing from Grobauer to rapidly join Barker at the front of heat nine with the German then having to be alert to arrest the efforts of Adam Ellis before the 5-1 could be banked.

Schlein and Kurtz backed it up with a 4-2 advantage from heat ten and then Ellis cruised to a heat-sharing victory in heat 11 to suggest that the Brummies hadn't thrown in the towel.

A tapes to flag win from Grobauer to see off Birmingham's tactical use of Ellis Perks in heat 12 proved valuable and then Schlein and the swooping Harris ensured the Rebels victory with a 5-1 from heat 13.

There was impeccable team awareness displayed by Ben Barker as he nursed Anders Rowe to another maximum heat gain for the Rebels from heat 14, before Schlein dug deep in the final race to make a late move on Castagna and join Harris for the team 5-1 and that personal paid maximum.


Somerset - 55: C.Harris 13+1 (3,3,2,2',3), R.Schlein 13+2 (2',3,3,3,2'), B.Barker 10+1 (3,1',3,3), V.Grobauer 7+1 (R,2,2',3), T.Kurtz 7 (3,1,2,1), A.Rowe 5+1 (3,0,0,2'), H.Atkins 0 (0,FD,R,0)

Birmingham - 35: E.Perks 9+2 (2,1',1',2,2,1,0), A.Ellis 9 (1,3,1,3,1), J.Shanes 7+1 (1',2,3,1,0,0), P.Castagna 7+2 (1',2,2,0,1',1), D.Hume 2 (2,0,0), N.Agertoft 1 (0,0,1).