Bears battle to win big at Birmingham!
Resilient Redcar let their racing do the talking with an all important 48-42 away win on Wednesday evening against a strong Birmingham side at the Perry Barr stadium. Redcar’s captain Charles Wright led from the front with an impressive return of 13 points whilst Lewis Kerr was unbeaten up until heat 15 as he scored a show-stopping paid 16 on the night.
Redcar actually started the encounter as if they were still on the M6 as the likeable Italian Paco Castagna picked up back to back wins in the first 2 heats to put Birmingham into a 10-2 lead in the early stages. Both teams traded 4-2 heat advantages in the next 2 races which kept the second city side ahead by 8 points.
Before racing could resume the state of the Perry Barr circuit was brought into question as both sets of riders were not happy with track conditions citing a number of bumps and inconsistencies in the racing surface. After a 50 minute delay which included the Birmingham management claiming their side could race alone if the Bears refused to ride racing finally re-commenced with both teams fairly satisfied with the remedial work that had taken place.
Amazingly, Redcar came out after the enforced break with renewed vigour as Charles Wright was joined by the tactical substitute Lewis Kerr for a 5-1 to cut the deficit in half. By the completion of heat 7 the Bears were remarkably level as the power packed middle order duo of Jake Allen and Kerr combined for their second 5-1 of the evening. The Brummies weren’t about to go down without a fight however as they hit back with a 5-1 of their own as Ashley Morris and the fast improving Jack Thomas combined to put Birmingham into a 4 point lead.
Rather staggeringly, heat 8 was the last time the audience would see a Brummies rider take the chequered flag as Redcar recorded 7 (seven) heat winners on the bounce to ensure they left the Midlands with 3 points to boost their hopes of an automatic place in the Championship play-off semi-finals. James Sarjeant came to the party for his side in heat 11 as he joined Wright for a 5-1 to send Redcar into a 2 point advantage on the night. A double dose of shared heats kept Redcar’s lead at a slender 2 points going into heat 14. The fourteenth race of a rather eventful night saw Lewis Kerr take another win whilst Redcar’s super guest Jason Edwards showed why he is more than capable of riding at Championship level as he took a vital 3rd place to put Redcar 4 up going into the final battle of the night. Heat 15 saw Charles Wright hold on for the win after a battle with Chris Harris and Lewis Kerr got the better of Erik Riss and that gave the Bears a 4-2 heat advantage and a 48-42 success on the night!
Redcar co-promoter Jamie Swales pulled no punches in his assessment of the evening’s events, “The instruction from the management this evening was to leave with seven riders and for the lads not to take any risks and potentially suffer any injuries but the boys were outstanding. Lewis Kerr has been a great signing so far and Jason Edwards got some really important points for us. For once, we got out of the gate as a team and we were brilliant, we fully deserved to take the win. The track was not in a good state, in the first 4 races riders were hitting massive holes in the track which resulted in processional racing as all of the riders gave each other a lot of room to avoid any unnecessary crashes. Initially, when the team walked the track they commented that the surface was an improvement on their third visit this season but it was still not great. It is important to point out that after walking the track it was actually the Birmingham riders who asked for some extra track work to take place and in our eyes, this only served to make the track worse.”
Swales continued, “It was announced over the PA that it was only the Redcar riders that were unhappy with the surface but that was not the case, some of the Birmingham riders also commented that they did not want to ride on the track as they weren’t happy with the state of the surface. After extensive work, the surface improved but it was far from ideal and in 15 heats I can only remember seeing 2 passes!”
Birmingham Brummies = 42
1. Chris Harris = 10+2
2. Rider Replacement for Valentin Grobauer
3. James Shanes = 4+1
4. Ashley Morris = 5
5. Erik Riss = 5
6. Paco Castagna = 11+1
7. Jack Thomas = 7+2
Redcar Bears = 48
1. Charles Wright = 13
2. James Sarjeant = 3+1
3. Jake Allen = 6+1
4. Lewis Kerr = 15+1
5. Michael Palm Toft = 6+1
6. Jason Edwards (G) = 5
7. Jordan Jenkins = 0