Battling Bears defeat Cheetahs in Championship thriller!
The Redcar “Agilia” Bears mustered all of their fighting spirit to see off a determined Oxford side 47-43 at the Ecco Arena. The clash was a ding-dong battle throughout with a last heat decider going the Bears way. Erik Riss top scored for Redcar with 13 whilst the impressive Dillon Ruml top scored with 12 for the visitors.
The meeting started with a comfortable heat 1 win for Redcar’s skipper, Charles Wright who was untroubled by Oxford’s pairing of Scott Nicholls and Kyle Newman who in turn, saw off Adam Roynon to pack the minor places.
Jordan Jenkins was excluded from heat 2 after colliding with the first bend air fence. This gave the Cheetahs the opportunity to take the lead which they duly did with the impressive Ruml taking his first win of the evening and with Josh McDonald nursing a sick bike around for 3rd, the Championship newcomers hit the front.
The Bears middle order immediately hit back with a maximum heat advantage courtesy of Erik Riss and Kasper Andersen to send Redcar into an early 10-8 lead. Back to back shared heats followed with Troy Batchelor securing his first win in heat 4 ahead of Lewis Kerr and Jordan Jenkins who navigated their way past Ruml.
Heat 6 saw Wright controversially excluded following a nasty looking crash involving the Bears skipper and Josh McDonald. Wright left the track holding his shoulder, more on that later! The re-run saw Batchelor make it 2 wins from 2 outings despite Roynon keeping the Australian honest in second. Again, McDonald nursed his sick bike around for the important third place to bring Oxford level.
Alarm bells began to ring in the Bears camp as the Cheetahs secured their first 5-1 of the evening. Kyle Newman and Cameron Heeps got the better of Lewis Kerr which sent shockwaves throughout the Ecco Arena crowd. Back to back shared heats followed with Riss ending Batchelor’s winning run in heat 9.
Heading into heat 10, Redcar were still 4 behind but that lead was cut in half as Wright dusted himself down to take the chequered flag and with Roynon securing a vital third place, Redcar were within touching distance. Heat 11 saw Oxford use Troy Batchelor as their rider replacement but Lewis Kerr somehow held off a hard charging Scott Nicholls to ensure Oxford could not surge further ahead.
Riss continued his unbeaten evening in heat 12 but the action was all happening behind him as Jenkins rode brilliantly to come up the inside of Newman to bring the Bears level heading into the final 3 heats.
Heat 13 saw one of THE rides of 2022 as Wright, a distant second after lap 2 somehow gained the required drive to pass Nicholls on the back straight of the final lap to secure the heat win for the hosts. However, with Oxford packing the minor places they were level heading into heat 14.
Heat 14 was a rollercoaster race as Edwards initially led but was passed at the beginning of lap 2 by Ruml, at the start of lap 3, Edwards nearly lost it which relegated the Brit to third, and then on the final lap Ruml locked up massively to gift Andersen the win to send Redcar into the lead for the first time since heat 6. After the rollercoaster race, Andersen’s bike packed up with the Redcar fans thanking their lucky stars it did not happen during the race!
Redcar required a 3-3 from Riss and Wright for the three league points heading into heat 15 and the Teessiders initially gated on a 5-1. Wright passed his teammate Riss at the start of lap 2 and then Redcar’s German star was passed by Nicholls to deny Riss his maximum. The Redcar skipper took the win and with Riss in third Redcar took the 3 league points. Oxford took home a deserved consolation league point after a classic Championship clash at the Ecco Arena.
Redcar boss Jade Mudgway never lost belief in his side despite the ding-dong nature of the match, “This side are battlers and I always had the belief that the boys could do it but it was a tough meeting.”
The Kiwi also revealed that Charles Wright dislocated his shoulder in heat 6 and still went on to win the meeting for the club, “Charles is a special rider, he dislocated his shoulder in heat 6 but that shows the mettle of the man, he knew that his team needed him so he went out there and did the job. Charles would not have done that if he wasn’t as committed to the club as he is. I have complete admiration for him. Speedway riders are a different breed.”
Redcar Bears = 47
1. Charles Wright = 12
2. Adam Roynon = 5
3. Erik Riss = 13
4. Kasper Andersen = 5+1
5. Lewis Kerr = 6
6. Jason Edwards = 3
7. Jordan Jenkins = 3+2
Oxford Cheetahs = 43
1. Scott Nicholls = 10
2. Jack Thomas R/R = 6+2
3. Kyle Newman = 4+1
4. Cameron Heeps = 6+2
5. Troy Batchelor = 9+2
6. Dillon Ruml = 12
7. Josh McDonald = 2