Controversial night at the Eddie Wright Raceway

May 17th, 2019
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SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS 40 SOMERSET REBELS 50 (CHAMPIONSHIP)

HEB Scunthorpe Scorpions got their league campaign off to the worst possible start with a 40-50 home defeat to Somerset Rebels at the Eddie Wright Raceway last night (Friday) – although, unfortunately, the big talking point of the evening proved to be the performance of the referee.

Jake Allen was ruled out of the meeting after a heavy crash at Ipswich on Thursday evening and replaced last night by Kyle Howarth. Allen has shoulder ligament damage and has an appointment on Monday. Scorpions missed his heavy scoring, especially in the closing stages of the meeting, while Josh Bailey was also missed.

There’s no doubt that Rebels were worthy winners, as the decisions of the referee cost points to both teams, although Scorpions were particularly hard hit in the first couple of races, which can have an important bearing on the momentum of a meeting.

While the Scunthorpe promotion were not willing to comment on the performance of the referee, the feeling from the terraces is that he had spoilt the meeting.

Right from the off, there was an occasion where a rider (Danny Ayres) initially in a good position pulled out of a race because the two-minute lights had not been turned off during the race.

And while a referee can have a different interpretation of an incident after a rider falls, such as the exclusion of Joe Lawlor after he came to grief on the opening turns of Heat 2, what is less open to interpretation is the clear finishing order of certain races.

In Heat 5, Somerset’s Rory Schlein passed Jason Garrity on the final lap and took the chequered flag, and yet Garrity was given the race win.

Even more outrageous was Heat 9. Garrity passed Chris Harris with a fantastic outside swoop on the final bend. The ecstatic rider completed two laps of honour, only for Harris to be given first place. Any atmosphere built up by Garrity’s brilliant move was killed off stone dead and many fans started to lose a bit of interest at that point.

The finishes to these races were not close. Fans had already filled their programmes in, and they had to cross out the wins for Schlein and Garrity when the result was announced.

There was arguably a third mistake in the finishing order, in Heat 13, when Josh Auty was given second ahead of Harris after a ding-dong battle for that position, although this was tighter.

It’s a shame when the focus is on such matters, but many fans were left disillusioned. Surely the focus should be on the racing, which was actually very good. Scunthorpe Speedway pride themselves on putting on a show for supporters, and want people to leave the stadium talking about the excellent racing.

Again, it’s taking nothing away from Somerset, who were worthy winners on the night, with both Anders Rowe – showing his liking for the Eddie Wright Raceway – and Valentin Grobauer putting in fine performances for Rebels.

Josh Auty top scored for Scorpions with 15 points from six rides in a typical all-action performance, which commenced from when he snatched victory from Schlein in Heat 1.

Danny Ayres, who recovered from his Heat 1 disappointment to score 5+2, said: “From a personal viewpoint, I did well to come back and score (paid) seven from my remaining rides after the disappointment of the opening race.

“Once upon a time, my head would have gone down, after a start to the evening like that.

“The flashing, yellow lights for the two minutes were left on. They weren’t the red lights, so I guess it’s my fault, but when you’re racing around a track and you see a flashing light, your first natural instinct is to stop.

“You only make that mistake once and I’ve learnt from it. I was devasted about that, and it was the start of a horrible night for the team.

“Somerset are a good team, and their track isn’t a lot different from our track, and they’ve come here after we’ve had a bad week, so we shouldn’t get too disheartened about it. But we need to go away and think about it and come back stronger.

“I’m devastated that we lost the meeting, but overall I’m loving life at Scunthorpe – it’s a fantastic club. I was so disappointed not to get a call to ride at Championship level over the winter, but then to get the call so early in the season was brilliant.

“I’ve hit the ground running. I’ve come into the main body of the team, but I’m still putting the points on the board. I feel there’s so much more for me to learn and hopefully the future looks very bright for both myself and the club.”

SCUNTHORPE 40: Josh Auty 15, Jason Garrity 8, Kyle Howarth 6, Danny Ayres 5+2, Stefan Nielsen 3+2, Ryan Kinsley 2, Joe Lawlor 1.
SOMERSET 50: Rory Schlein 12, Chris Harris 11+1, Anders Rowe 8+1, Valentin Grobauer 8, Nico Covatti 7, Todd Kurtz 2+1, Henry Atkins 2+1.

PHOTO: Jason Garrity celebrates his brilliant last-ditch victory in Heat 9… but first place was then given to Chris Harris (photo: Ian Rispin).

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