IF you made a check list of everything you want from a speedway meeting, you’d have had pretty much every box ticked off after this one.
Excitement, controversy, great racing, a fine victory by your team… this match had it all.
The Ecco Finishing Bears were unable to gain a foothold in the match early on but once they did, they went on to ensure they took maximum points from a thoroughly entertaining meeting.
What was especially pleasing was that they didn’t need to rely on the top four or five for points as they had on other recent occasions.
Richard Lawson and skipper Aaron Summers formed a formidable spearhead but there were important contributions in the middle at the bottom too – guest Simon Lambert grabbing a win in his final race and Rafal Konopka scoring in three of his rides after a shaky spell of form.
The meeting will also be remembered for a lively heat 13 and its aftermath.
Devils dangerman Ben Barker gated first was taken closer to the back straight fence than he would have liked by Summers, allowing Lawson to whizz through too.
Barker was clearly unhappy and after clashing with Summers on the warm-down lap, the pointing and shouting continued in the pits.
The match began with a pair of drawn heats, the second after Plymouth’s James Sarjeant bit the dust with his side on a 5-1.
Jan Graversen and Carl Wilkinson put the Bears ahead with a 5-1 next time out but the visitors halved the gap when Konopka got in Summers’ way, allowing Rasmus Jensen to hit the front, then fell on the pits bend.
Summers was all over Jensen for much of the race but couldn’t a way past.
It was all square again with five heats gone after Wilkinson fell at the first bend ad was excluded from the rerun but a 5-1 from Lawson and Hugh Skidmore over Jensen and Sam Simota immediately put the Bears back in front and this time they made it stick.
They missed the chance to extend their lead still further in heat nine when Wilkinson, having shot through on the inside to pass Jensen, fell on the last lap with team-mate Graversen out in front as he tried to go round Simota.
There’s no doubt he’d have got past had he stayed on but you can’t knock Wilko. He’s an out and out entertainer who never knows when he’s beaten and speedway would be all the better for it if every team had a rider in his mould.
Skidmore took a wide line to get the better of both Devils riders and partner Lawson to a 5-1 next time out, but the satisfaction of extending the lead to 10 points was tempered by the fact it meant Plymouth could play the tactical double card.
Barker duly wore black and white for the first race after the interval but Summers made the gate and the Great Britain World Cup star was beaten for the first time in the meeting.
The Bears knew they were going to have to earn their victory though, and guest Michael Palm Toft came from behind in heat 12 to beat the lively Graversen – who was reunited with his No 1 engine and back to his best – but Konopka ensured it ended 3-3 as he roared past Sarjeant.
Konopka had come under fire for a series of falls in recent Bears meetings but he looked far steadier last night and more like the rider who caught the eye prior to being offered a longer stay at South Tees Motorsports Park.
Successive 5-1s in heats 13 and 14 wrapped up the three points for Redcar, Wilkinson again in exhilarating form in the second of those as he powered pas both Plymouth riders.
Barker produced a top drawer ride to inspire a Plymouth 5-1 in the final race and gain revenge over Summers but by then the Bears had already done what they needed to.
BEARS: Richard Lawson 11+1, Aaron Summers 11, Jan Graversen 10, Hugh Skidmore 8+3, Simon Lambert 5, Carl Wilkinson 4+2, Rafal Konopka 3+2.
DEVILS: Ben Barker 14, Sam Simota 11+1, Michael Palm Toft 8+1, Rasmus Jensen 5+1, Kyle Newman 2+1, James Sarjeant 0, R/R for Adam Roynon,