RESULT: SOMERSET 45 POOLE 48
The Volvo Cars Poole Pirates left it as late as feasibly possible before confirming their place in the end-of-season play-offs, claiming a dramatic heat 15 maximum advantage to seal their destiny.
Heading towards another possible heavy defeat against top-flight newcomers Somerset the Pirates were in tactical zone as early as heat 5 and whilst a fine win by Brady Kurtz, looking much sharper than when registering an opening last place, supported by a third place from reserve Timo Lahti - Charles Wright insistent on finishing between them - halved the difference, the Rebels quickly re-established a decent advantage.
Still with only race winner to their name and over half the heats completed Poole trailed by nine points, well outside of consolation point territory . But the reliable Andersen and Lahti pairing gave some hope to the large contingent of travelling support when they posted a 5-1 over Wright and Hougaard.
Following that up was a Starke and Kennett maximum to close the deficit to a single point, Josh Grajczonek having no answers to the pace of the two Pirates. Lawson though, in heat 11 was too strong for Kennett but with Doolan unable to influence the heat was shared. As too was heat 12 after Kerr had set off too soon and broke the tapes. Doolan came in as a replacement and looked to be on course for a point until Starke made a sensational inside move on lap 3 to share another heat.
Kurtz was flying in heat 13 when Lawson, in third, took a heavy second turn fall on lap 2, Andersen fortunate to avoid him. With the unbeaten Lawson disqualified and two against one in the re-start, the Pirates fancied their chances but Grajczonek made a much better get-away and had too much speed for Kurtz to influence.
Kennett made headway in heat 14 but with Lahti being blocked throughout the Rebels continued to hold that single point lead going into the final race, the Pirates therefore needing nothing than a heat advantage to make Rye House's final two matches inconsequential.
Kurtz and Andersen were up for the task but Lawson remained in close contact throughout, almost breaking the partnership on the line but Poole had consigned Somerset to their sixth home defeat of the campaign.
J. Grajczonek 3,3,1,3,R=10
R. Replacement =0
C. Wright 3,2,3,1,3=12
P. Hougaard 2',0,0,2=4+1
R. Lawson 3,3,3,FD,1=10
K. Doolan 1,2,0,0,0=3
L. Kerr 1',2',1,1,0,1'=6+3
B. Kurtz 0,6,1',2,3=12+1
R. Replacement =0
P. Starke FD,R,2,3,1'=6+1
E. Kennett 1,2,2',2,3=10+1
H. Andersen 1,2,2',1',2'=8+3
T. Lahti 2,3,1,1',3,2,0=12+1
G. Wood 0,R,R=0
Ht 1 J.Grajczonek T.Lahti K.Doolan B.Kurtz 4-2 (4-2) 56.97
Ht 2 T. Lahti K. Doolan L. Kerr G. Wood 3-3 (7-5) (57.5)
Ht 3 C. Wright P. Hougaard E. Kennett P. Starke (Fell d/q) 5-1 (12-6) (awd)
Ht 4 R. Lawson L. Kerr H. Andersen G. Wood (Rtd) 5-1 (17-7) (57.62)
Ht 5 B. Kurtz (TR) C. Wright T. Lahti P. Hougaard 2-7 (19-14) (57.52)
Ht 6 J. Grajczonek H. Andersen T. Lahti K. Doolan 3-3 (22-17) (58.31)
Ht 7 R. Lawson E. Kennett L. Kerr P. Starke (Rtd) 4-2 (26-19) (57.25)
Ht 8 C. Wright P. Starke L. Kerr G. Wood (Rtd) 4-2 (30-21) (57.81)
Ht 9 T. Lahti H. Andersen C. Wright P. Hougaard 1-5 (31-26) (58.5)
Ht 10 P. Starke E. Kennett J. Grajczonek L. Kerr 1-5 (32-31) (58.37)
Ht 11 R. Lawson E. Kennett B. Kurtz K. Doolan 3-3 (35-34) (58.56)
Ht 12 C. Wright T. Lahti P. Starke K. Doolan 3-3 (38-37) (58.47)
Ht 13 J. Grajczonek B. Kurtz H. Andersen R. Lawson (Fell d/q) 3-3 (41-40) (59.72)
Ht 14 E. Kennett P. Hougaard L. Kerr T. Lahti 3-3 (44-43) (59.34)
Ht 15 B. Kurtz H. Andersen R. Lawson J. Grajczonek (Rtd) 1-5 (45-48) (59.14)
Referee Graham Reeve
Gates: Somerset won toss and chose gates 2&4 in heat 1. Poole took gates 2&4 in heat 15
Somerset 0 league points Poole 3 league points
Rider of the Night Edward Kennett
Season Starts March 2018 (for 2017 table click here)