Racers Crash To Bulls.
Reading crashed to the heaviest defeat in their Development League era as they went down by 26 points to 10 against the Birmingham Bulls.
The Racers went into the match with captain Nick Laurence and rising star Sam Norris from their regular squad and brought in ex rider William O'keefe, but against a strong looking Bulls team it was always going to be a tough ride.
Things started well enough as Laurence and Norris leapt from the tapes to lead into the first bend. Bull's Arran Butcher rounded Norris on the back straight, and although the 15 year old fought back, Butcher shook him off and almost caught Laurence.
In heat 2 it was the Birmingham pair of Sheldon Davies and Cradley NL reserve Tom Spencer who streaked to the front as O'keefe struggled around behind on what looked like a very sick motor. The Racers' 4th rider, untried rookie Ben Phillips trailed in last in his first league ride.
The Bulls made the gate again in the 3rd race, but after O'keefe passed Jacob Fellows, Phillips slipped off at the back causing the race to be stopped and earning an exclusion. In the re-run O'keefe again made an awful start and first bend and could only watch as the Fellows followed team mate Butcher home to put Birmingham 12-6 up.
Things got no better in heat 4 as the ever reliable Laurence suffered a very rare bad start, and looked slow as he could make no impression on Spencer and Davies and was almost passed by team mate Norris.
Norris rode a good race in the fifth, fighting in the first bend to come out in second place, and gave chase to the far more experienced Spencer, almost getting alongside him but failing to make an all important pass. Fellows took a comfortable third place ahead of Phillips, who by no means disgraced himself after being thrown in at the deep end.
Already trailing by 12 points the Racers hoped to salvage some pride in the final race, but again both Laurence and O'keefe looked shadows of their usual selves, unable to make any impression on the very polished Bulls pair of Butcher and Davies even before Laurence's machine packed up on the third lap.
The final scoreline of 26-10 was by far the most humbling defeat of the current management's reign, and while they will point to the problems suffered by their top 2, and being unable to track one of their own riders at number 4, three of the four Bulls riders either have or are vying for National League places, and all four were impressive on a track they are all familiar with.
The Racers will look to take their first win of the season in their next match, a home encounter with Weymouth Wildcats at Swindon on May 27th.
Wednesday's match details;
Birmingham 26 Butcher 8, Fellows 3+1, Davies 7+2, Spencer 8+1.
Reading 10 Laurence 4, Norris 3, O'keefe 3, Phillips 0.
Ht 1. Laurence, Butcher, Norris, Fellows. Ht 2. Davies, Spencer, O'keefe, Phillips. Ht 3. Butcher, Fellows, O'keefe, Phillips fx Ht 4. Spencer, Davies, Laurence, Norris. Ht5. Spencer, Norris, Fellows, Phillips. Ht 6. Butcher, Davies, O'keefe, Laurence ef.
📸 Tony Burcheĺl.