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Team Talk - 27th July - Part 1
Photo by Dave Payne
Sat 27 Jul 2013 by Tony Jackson
Part 1 of 2 - Saturday 27th July 2013
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of ‘Team Talk' – which returns after a one week break due to having to get back up from Plymouth last Friday evening.

As usual, let's run through everything in date order, starting with the Premier League Fours at Peterborough almost two weeks ago.

To say that we were disappointed in the events of the day would be a huge understatement and while winning those meetings is always tough to say the least we wanted to make the final as an absolute minimum.

However, once we lost Kyle following a bizarre incident in his first outing we knew that it would be tough and ultimately his absence cost us dearly.

He had actually made a half decent gate from the hitherto totally unproductive outside starting position and was edging into second place entering the back straight when referee Barbara Horley put the red stop lights on. Unfortunately three riders, including Kyle, slowed but the fourth – Scunthorpe's Michael Palm Toft didn't – and ran straight into Kyle causing him to suffer an awkward-looking crash.

Kyle banged his head a little and initially it was feared that he had broken his left arm and, after receiving treatment on the track, he was loaded into an ambulance and taken away for further examination. Thankfully the initial fears of a broken arm were unfounded but nevertheless he was pretty bashed about and ruled out of the remainder of the meeting on medical advice.

That incident seemed to affect the rest of the team for a few races and it was only in the latter stages, once Kyle was found to be okay that we seemed to get going again. In the end we lost out by a single point on qualification for the final but that's the way it goes sometimes but overall a disappointing afternoon. However we are all convinced that but for that incident we would have reached the final, especially as Kyle had been in great form that week in his new role as a doubling-up rider with Swindon.

The final was won by Edinburgh, as I am sure you are all aware, but numerous delays – especially a horrific crash involving Berwick's David Bellego and Ipswich's Rohan Tungate in the penultimate race of the day caused the meeting to drag on until almost 8:00pm, which made it a long day for everyone involved as having had the initial rider parade at shortly before 2:30pm made the overall length of the meeting some five and-a-half hours!

After the Fours we had a few days off before heading south to Plymouth – a journey of 405 miles from Workington – and of course 405 miles back!

The Plymouth circuit is so small that a race actually lasts four laps plus about 6 metres as four laps does not quite satisfy the minimum race distance and some visiting riders attending the place for the first time had been known to shut off after crossing the start line only to be pipped at the finish by a rider that knew about the extra few metres and kept on racing!

Nevertheless it produces exciting racing as the riders do not seem to have a chance to get away from each other. On the downside it is so tight that inevitably there are a lot of re-runs due to first corner incidents and if anyone falls they often struggle to get off the track in time before the red stop lights have to come on, which again can lead to a few re-runs.

The day before the meeting Plymouth had been hit by the news that new signing – Swede Seb Alden, was quitting British speedway with immediate effect. This sent them scratching round for a guest and eventually they were able to secure the services of Leigh Lanham while they were also operating Rider Replacement for the injured Todd Kurtz and had secured the services of former Devil Jason Bunyan as cover for Mark Lemon, who was away managing the Australian World Cup side.

Like everywhere else that week conditions in Plymouth were absolutely scorching but as they say, it is the same for both teams! However, we made a terrific start to go 10-2 up after two races before we were hit by two Mikkel Bech/Cory Gathercole 5-1's which pulled the Devils back into contention by heat 5. Then, when Ashley was, in my opinion, harshly excluded in heat 6 we suddenly found ourselves two points down. But, with Rene inflicting what turned out to be the only defeat of the night on Mikkel Bech in heat 9 while Gathercole fell while holding third place we drew level once more.

From then on the match ebbed and flowed as first Tero and Rusty took maximum points from heat 10 to put us ahead before Mikkel Bech and Jake Anderson took maximum points from heat 12 to tie the scores once again. However, an excellent 5-1 from Rene and Richard in heat 13 gave us the initiative once more and when Tero won his second successive race in heat 14 it meant we needed two points from the final heat to secure victory.

After much discussion in the pits I sent Rene and Richard out in heat 15 hoping for a repeat of heat 13 and if that happened we would take all four league points and, for just over two laps that looked a distinct possibility. However the third lap saw Mikkel Bech produce a storming ride to burst through from third to first and take the chequered flag. Nevertheless a shared heat gave us the victory and three league points, which certainly made the long journey home a lot easier!

Having picked up points on our travels we were determined not to slip up at home the next day against what is a strong Rebels side who will certainly be in the mix at the top of the table come the end of the season. However, for much of the meeting we seemed to be suffering the effects of our long trip the previous day as we slipped to an eight-point deficit after just four races in what seemed to be a carbon copy of last year's home league clash with the Rebels.

We gradually clawed our way back into the match before seeing the Rebels pull to five points ahead with just three races remaining. However, the maximum heat advantage from Rene and Richard in heat 13 brought us back to within a point – and I still don't know how Rene squeezed around the outside as he came out of turn two for the first time – but although the Rebels stretched their lead to three points after heat 14 our task was simple – we needed a 5-1 in heat 15 and nothing else would do.

I had a good chat with Rene, Richard, Rusty and Kyle ahead of heat 15 and elected to go with Rene and Kyle for the crucial final race. We decided who was going off which gate and hatched a plan, which thankfully worked perfectly to give us the win!

The excitement of that final race was something else and from the centre green we could hear the fans shouting for all four laps in what was undoubtedly the race of the season. The subsequent 5-1 gave us a one-point victory and that was the only time we had been in front all night – but of course that was the only time that mattered!

Last season we won 45-44 and to repeat it was just incredible and like last year it was the match of the season which had been recorded on DVD by GRT Media.

Fortunately once again GRT Media were on hand to record the meeting this year and I am sure it will again be a good seller at the track shop!

Overall, great entertainment – although I am not sure that we could all stand the stress of that every week!

Tonight at Derwent Park we entertain Plymouth, who are on a ‘northern-tour' this weekend; they are heading up to Glasgow tomorrow afternoon. As usual, a full ‘Meeting Preview' of this evening's match against Ipswich can be found elsewhere within the ‘Comets News' section of this website.

To be continued..........................
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Last Updated :  Sat 27 Jul 2013, 15:57 UK
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Photography
Dave Payne, Adrian Randall