REDCAR Bears went down to a not entirely unexpected defeat against the revamped Rye House Rockets last night.
But more worrying was that key reserve Jan Graversen was withdrawn from the meeting due to the effects of a heavy crash early on.
Home heat leader Steve Boxall went in hard on the Dane on the fourth turn in heat three, sending him crashing into the fence.
Boxall was excluded but Graversen took his place in the rerun. He bravely soldiered on despite clearly feeling the effects of his fall but pulled out of the meeting after retiring from his fourth ride.
Graversen hurt his back in the fall and we must now hope he is okay to take his place against Newcastle tonight, although he was reported to be just a bit battered and bruised after the meeting.
They’re made of tough stuff these speedway riders so it’s good to know the signs are promising. With only Graversen, Rafal Konopka and Hugh Skidmore eligible to take Mark Lemon’s rider replacement rides, his absence would be a big blow.
The Rockets started strongly but a 5-1 from Skidmore and Richard Lawson over Jason Garrity and Boxall in heat five cut the gap to 16-14. However three home 5-1s and a 4-2 from the next five races put the Ecco Finishing Bears up against it in a big way.
Bears chief Brian Havelock produced the black and white tactical double helmet colour twice in as many races and was rewarded with six-point hauls in each,
First Lawson took the chequered flag in heat 11 although team-mate Skidmore was passed by both Ollie Greenwood and Anders Mellgren.
But Skidmore redeemed himself in the following race by cinching a six-point victory to cut the home side’s lead to 44-34.
With the gap down to 10 points, there was still a chance the Bears could nick a Premier League point for finishing within seven points of their hosts.
But when skipper Aaron Summers was excluded from the rerun of heat 13 after sliding into the fence as he tried valiantly to find a way past Eddie Kennett, their job became harder.
And they were running out of time
And they had only one rider in heat 13 following the withdrawal of the injured Graversen.
They at least ended on a high with a 4-2 from Lawson and Skidmore although they were on a 5-1 when the race was stopped and a restart ordered after Garrity fell.
ROCKETS: Eddie Kennett 13+1, Luke Bowen 10+2, Jason Garrity 8+1, Anders Mellgren 7+1, Oliver Greenwood 6+2, Jason Bunyan 6+1, Steve Boxall 5.
BEARS: Richard Lawson 14+1, Hugh Skidmore 12, Carl Wilkinson 7, Aaron Summers 4, Jan Graversen 3 (w/d), Rafal Konopka 1, R/R for Mark Lemon.