LOOKING on the bright side, things can only get better.
As opening nights of the season go, this was the exact polar opposite of what Redcar Bears had been hoping for as they ushered in the 2015 campaign at the Media Prima Arena.
A heavy home defeat, a nasty crash which led to skipper Stuart Robson being taken to hospital, Jan Graversen blowing his first choice motor in his opening ride and double Bear of the Year Hugh Skidmore struggling to make an impact due to suffering from tonsillitis… It really was one of those nights.
Robbo’s crash came in heat seven of the Ecco Finishing Bears’ A66 Challenge match when he lost a chain going into the first turn on lap two and he banged into the fence. Rafal Konopka looked like he was going to end up on the wrong side of the fence trying to avoid him but avoid him he did – although he took a closer look at the air fence too, severely damaging his frame in the process.
Robson, who had won his opening ride, was loaded into the ambulance and after a lengthy hold-up, taken to hospital with concussion, leg and arm injuries. He’ll definitely miss the return leg at Workington on Saturday although the Bears management hope he’ll be fit for next Thursday’s Premier League trip to Sheffield.
By the time Robbo came to grief, the Bears were already 23-16 down and facing an uphill battle. They’d conceded 5-1s in the first two heats and already used the black and white tactical double helmet colour.
New No 1 Lasse Bjerre had taken the tactical ride and earned the Bears a rare race win but that heat six 6-3 proved to be the only time they got the better of their visitors.
Without Robson the task was made so much more difficult and the Comets steadily extended their lead as the night went on.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the home fans though. Bjerre came from behind as he became the only man to take a point from Rene Bach all night and looks to have all the hallmarks of a fine No 1 while Matej Kus scored well on his return to Teesside.
Both were up for a battle too. In a cracking heat 12 Kus used every inch of the track, inside and outside, as he fought his way past Nicki Barrett to lead, only for Bach to come surging through for one of his four race wins.
And next time out, in another contender for race of the season, early leader Bjerre suddenly found himself back in third place before fighting his way past Kyle Howarth and you could have thrown a tea towel over the first three as they crossed the line.
Comets No 1 Kenneth Hansen missed the meeting (his team-mates scored a paid maximum from rider replacement in his absence) after being told there was a 90% chance he had testicular cancer. However further tests revealed he doesn’t after all have cancer which is excellent news.
BEARS: Lasse Bjerre 14, Matej Kus 9+2, Rafal Konopka 5, Stuart Robson 3 (w/d), Jan Graversen 2, Hugh Skidmore 2, Ben Morley 1.
COMETS: Rene Bach 14, Ricky Wells 13, Kyle Howarth 11+2, Rusty Harrison 7+2, Nicki Barrett 7+1, Nathan Greaves 4+2, R/R for Kenneth Hansen.