Bears battle to BSN Series semis!
The Redcar “Agilia” Bears battled to a hard fought 49-41 win over a dogged Birmingham side at the ECCO Arena. The win secured Redcar’s place in the BSN Series semifinals with the draw taking place live on British Speedway’s Facebook at 7pm this evening. Charles Wright continued his imperious form with 14 which included a memorable heat 15 whilst Justin Sedgmen was impressive with 13+1 for the Brummies.
Ahead of the clash at the ECCO Arena, the Redcar team elected to put down the club’s new track covers with rain expected around start time. The ECCO Arena racestrip was much slicker than usual due to the threat of rain but track curator Jonathan Swales actually ended up watering the track before the meeting with the rain never arriving!
The Bears began on the front foot as Richard Lawson took the win in the second staging of the race after Nick Morris took apart the tapes in the original staging. Birmingham team manager Laurence Rodgers sent Morris off 15 metres but the Aussie failed to make an impression on Danyon Hume with Redcar starting with a 4-2.
Heat 2 saw a share of the spoils as Jason Edwards continued his fine start to 2023 with a good win despite educated pressure from James Pearson, but with Jake Mulford at the rear, Redcar could not extend their advantage. Nevertheless, the lead was stretched to 6 points by the conclusion of heat 3 but not before another tapes infringement!
Connor Bailey, in his new position of number 4, had a tough start with itchy trigger fingers as he touched the tapes with Gavin Parr replacing “The Tornado” with the in-form Jason Edwards. The decision paid huge dividends with Wright winning comfortably whilst Edwards rode a clever mid track line in the opening 2 laps to hold off the Brummies pairing of Zach Cook and Stefan Nielsen. The Bears reserve then pulled away to follow home the skipper and send Redcar 12-6 ahead.
Birmingham struck their first heat advantage in heat 4 as Sedgmen passed Danny King around the outside on bend 4 lap 1 and the experienced Aussie rode off into the sunset for a mightily impressive success and with Pearson in third, the gap was cut to 4. The Bears immediately re-established their 6 point cushion as Wright yet again won and with Bailey impressively holding off Morris, Redcar struck their 3rd heat advantage of the evening.
After back to back shared heats won by Sedgmen and King respectively, Birmingham shocked the home support with their first 5-1 as Alfie Bowtell continued his impressive start to 2023 and with the Australian prospect Pearson getting the better of Hume, Birmingham were right back in the meeting.
Sedgmen was looking unstoppable as he yet again won comfortably to end Wright’s winning run, but with Proctor at the back, Birmingham could not draw level. Heat 10 saw a frightening air fence collision for Stefan Nielsen who lifted entering bend 2 of the opening lap and the Brummies man went straight into the air fence. Remarkably, after a couple of minutes, Nielsen rose to his feet and continued in the meeting but the former Poole man was excluded from the re-run.
The re-run saw the Birmingham guest Zach Cook win impressively as he beat Hume and Lawson easily to keep Birmingham within striking distance. Redcar doubled their lead to 4 points as King won his 2nd race of the night with Morris 2nd, (remarkably, it would turn out to be Morris’ only points of the evening) but importantly for the Bears, Edwards kept Bowtell at the back as Redcar edged into a 35-31 lead on Coronation weekend.
Wright got back to winning ways in a shared heat 12 whilst Sedgmen made it 4 on the trot in heat 13 with the Brummies skipper looking superb but with Morris struggling to make an impact on King and Lawson, Redcar’s narrow 4 point advantage remained. With the Redcar fans biting their nails at a potential last heat decider, heat 14 put every Redcar fan at ease as Edwards and Bailey team rode brilliantly to get the better of Pearson and Nielsen which sent the Bears 46-38 ahead and semifinal qualification was secured.
Heat 15 was by far the race of the night with Birmingham initially gating on a maximum which would have meant a Sedgmen maximum but Wright, determined to spoil the Aussie partnership first passed Sedgmen on lap 2 before brilliantly rounding Cook on bend 4 of lap 3 to take the win and securing a 49-41 home victory.
Redcar team boss Gavin Parr was full of praise for the riders and staff with a superb pre-meeting effort to ensure the meeting went ahead, “After the forecast of heavy rain we had to prepare a track to cope with a downpour that never materialised.
I would like to say a huge thank you to the riders and volunteers that helped us put the covers on and off which fortunately were not needed.”
The Bears team boss also spoke about his side after qualification was secured, “It wasn’t one of our usual classics but we dug deep and secured the two points required to progress.
Danny was feeling really unwell and had to miss heat 15 however I have to mention Connor who’s ride with Jason in heat 14 was just what his confidence needed.”