Coventry Speedway’s season got off to a belated start over the past week with both Buildbase Bees and City Gearboxes storm in action, writes Alan Goodman.
Early track problems have meant that fans have yet to see Bees in action on their own track but a fine away win at Swindon must have given them heart for the forthcoming campaign.
Swindon 26, Bees 36
This was the first time Bees had been together as a team. Bad weather threatened but the meeting got underway. Both teams were using guests for the New Zealand GP bound pair of Troy Batchelor and Chris Harris. Swindon tracked Bjarne Pedersen while Bees used his team mate Cameron Woodward.
Swindon struck the first blow with home number one Peter Kildemand beating Hans Andersen. Ryan Fisher took third to keep the scores level.
Heat two saw the draft reserves in action. The first attempt to run ended in disaster with home rider Darryl Ritchings clipping Jason Garrity’s back wheel and taking a nasty tumble. Ritchings was taken to hospital with a reported broken nose and concussion. When the race eventually got going it was Garrity and James Sarjeant who took the points for Bees.
Pedersen won the battle of the guests and with Kenneth Hansen taking third, Bees still held a four point advantage.
This was doubled in heat four with Fisher and Sarjeant taking the honours after home rider Simon Gustafsson had struggled with machine problems.
Bees were a tad fortunate in heat five when Swindon were on a 5-1, only for Kildemand to pull out on the second lap with machine problems. Hansen tried hard to catch Nick Morris but a mistake on the final turn put paid to any chances of a win.
There was controversy in heat six when Andersen tried to pass Pedersen on the third turn of the first lap. Both riders came down with Andersen controversially excluded. Woodward got revenge over Pedersen in the rerun to keep Bees ahead.
Steve Worrall led for Swindon in heat seven but a mistake at end of the first lap let both Bees through.
Pedersen was given a tactical ride in for double points in heat eight but his partner Gustafsson forgot the rules and led from the tapes, leaving Pedersen to take just four instead of the possible six points. The 7-1 advantage did bring them back to just six points adrift.
Sarjeant fell while leading heat nine but remounted to follow Garrity home for a share of the points.
It was now raining and Swindon was pushing, not surprisingly, for abandonment. The referee ordered heat ten to go ahead and Woodward and Hansen responded with maximum points. As ten heats had been ridden the score stands and Bees take all four league points on offer.
Team manager Gary Havelock was pleased with this performance and said the team gelled together well and fans could be in for a good season.
Bee’s scorers, Woodward, Garrity 8, Sarjeant 5(3), Hansen, Howarth 5(2), Fisher 5(1), Andersen 2.
Cradley 48, Storm 40
This was a good result against one of the league’s stronger sides and gives Storm a fighting chance in the second leg of the Travel Plus Trophy.
The visitors settled in quickly and although the home side led by four points at the halfway stage, Storm hit back in heat nine when both home riders failed to finish and the resulting 5-0 brought the two teams level.
The home side drew away slightly to take an eight point lead but generally it was a pleasing performance from Coventry’s National League side.
Storm scorers; Sarjeant 10, Crang 8, Nielsen 7(2), Darryl Ritchings(G) 5(1), Terry-Daley 5(1), Dan Greenwood 5, Knuckey 0.
Storm 71, Scunthorpe 18
This was the first meeting on the track, re-laid after the earlier troubles and despite a good result was not the entertainment fans were hoping for. Scunthorpe has entered this league to bring on new riders and must be praised for their attitude. They are however very weak and also without a couple of their better riders were no match for Storm. In most races they lagged well behind the home riders. Twelve of the fifteen heats resulted in maximums for the Storm, the only others come in heat one when Luke Crang lifted at the gate and the visitor’s Conor Dwyer, last year’s Bees mascot, fell and out of the meeting and was out with a broken collarbone and heats four and twelve when Martin Knuckey was beaten into third place. Five Storm riders recorded paid maximums with Crang 7(2) and Knuckey 7(1) the only two to miss out.
New Zealand Grand Prix.
Chris Harris’ return to the GP series ended in a nightmare when he failed to score in the first round in Auckland. Despite featuring in the two best races of the night he could break his duck.
The meeting did however throw up a surprise winner when Bees asset Martin Smolinski proved his doubters wrong in coming from the back to win an exciting final with Nicki Pedersen and Krzysztof Kasprzak taking the other rostrum places.
Bees finally get on to the Brandon track tomorrow (Friday) when they host King’s Lynn in a most attractive Elite League fixture. With a top three of Niels Kristian Iversen, Kenneth Bjerre and Rory Schlein, they are well tipped for honours. Bees have a slight doubt about Hans Andersen who has a knee injury after his crash at Swindon. Although they appear to have more in-depth strength they need to get amongst the visiting top three if they are to take the points. The meeting starts at 8pm.
Bees also go to Poole on Monday for a televised fixture which was originally to be staged at Brandon but recent track problems forced it to be changed.