The Newcastle Sapphire Engineering Diamonds were on a mission to rectify the early part of their 2014 season last night with a League Cup match at the Redcar Bears, and right from the off it became apparent the competition was going to be intense.
Redcar were without suspended Richard Hall and had brought in a new Pole, but on his debut Rafal Konopka fell a matter of feet into heat one, but remounted to finish the shared 3-3 won by Richard Lawson over Ludvig Lindgren and Christian Henry.
The score remained locked after a second share until come heat three Stuart Robson and Lewis Kerr shot out to lead on the opening lap as Carl Wilkinson’s bike blew loudly as the tapes went up, but Hugh Skidmore rode a determined opening lap to pass Kerr with Newcastle claiming a 2-4 to put them 8-10 ahead.
Luke Crang raced away to take an expertly executed win in the fourth eventually followed home by his partner and skipper Aaron Summers once he passed Anton Rosen on the third lap in a home maximum 5-1 which put Redcar in front 13-11.
Skidmore took a sizeable win over Lindgren and Henry in heat five win but with Wilkinson falling on the third lap that was all the home side could muster but come heat seven. Summers’ win over Robson and Jan Graversen holding out Kerr doubled the Redcar lead to four points 23-19.
It was all evens again after a fine heat eight won well by Henry followed home by an ecstatic Rose who held out new-boy Konopka and Crang at the back for a 5-1 hoisting Newcastle back with the Bears 24-24.
Wilkinson scored his first point of the match in heat nine, perhaps surprisingly over Rosen, and with Skidmore taking another three points in a 4-2 Redcar regained the lead by two 28-26, while Lawson (last to first on bends one and two) and Graversen, in for Konopka consolidated the home side’s position with a good 5-1 over Robson and Kerr to move the score on to 33-27.
Six points behind with five races left meant the Diamonds had to up their game to keep within touching distance of their Teesside hosts,but the nerves were getting to Graversen who jumped the start and caused a re-run on heat 11, in which Lindgren made a poor effort to end up last.
The referee’s decision to exclude Robson from an awarded heat 12 after he and Graversen clashed with the Bear hitting the dirt effectively restricted the best scenario for Newcastle a draw with the score 42-30 with three races to go, but in heat 13 with Lindgren again stuck and the rear with Rosen joining him there after an overtake from Summers the 5-1 ended the contest there and then with the score 47-31.
Diamonds manager George English said: “Certain riders were just not up to speed at all which in a local derby like this is not acceptable.”
Redcar: Richard Lawson 15, Carl Wilkinson 3, Rafal Konopka 1, Aaron Summers 10, Luke Crang 4, Jan Graversen 9+2, Hugh Skidmore 13+1.
Newcastle: Stuart Robson 7, Christian Henry 8+1, Ludvig Lindgren 3+1, Lewis Kerr 4, Anton Rosen 3+1, Chris Schramm 7, Lewis Rose 3+2.