SPEEDWAY: By Alan Goodman

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Nicholls injured in horrific crash

Coventry Buildbase Bees suffered another crushing blow as they struggle to get their season together. Birmingham Brummies, with five former Bees in their side, came to Brandon on Monday and inflicted a 50-40 defeat on a definitely below par Bees. Further problems came after a horrific heat thirteen crash which saw Scott Nicholls taken to hospital with a broken collarbone.

Bees 40, Birmingham 50.

Elite League

Bees once again had Leigh Lanham in the number two spot, deputising for the unavailable Aaron Summers. With Kenni Larsen returning from injury they were at virtually full strength.

Lanham was a bit overkeen to make an impression and was excluded from heat one after touching the tapes. Adam Roynon came in as a replacement. It was Roynon who made the start but Edward Kennett was left at the back. Roynon’s lead lasted until the third turn when Bjarne Pedersen went past. At the same time Kennett went by Martin Smolinski for a drawn heat.

Another false start to heat two before the visitors shot away at the second attempt. There was no catching Josh Auty but second placed man Tomasz Piszcz, after a late change of machinery, was passed by both reserves to keep the scores level.

Larsen made a welcome return to action by winning heat three. His partner Chris Harris made a poor start and found himself boxed in behind the Birmingham pair. He managed to break free on the third lap and took second place on the final circuit.

Another ex-Bee Sebastian Ulamek had not been in the best of form at Birmingham but unfortunately he chose this match to get it together. Nicholls took time to pass Auty and then it was too late to catch Ulamek.

Harris and Ulamek won the next two heats before Birmingham went ahead in heat seven with Danny King and Ben Barker holding off a stiff challenge from Nicholls.

Heat eight, with Smolinski and Auty looked a potential banana skin for Bees but Lanham took the lead on the back straight and resisted all efforts by the Brummies pair to force their way into the lead. This left Bees trailing by two at the halfway stage.

Ulamek defeated Harris in heat nine to record his third race win on the trot before heat ten signalled the start of Bees decline.

Lanham made the start but Kennett was taken wide on the first turn. Lanham could not hold out and was relegated to third by the end of the first lap. Matters were made worse when Kennett pulled out with machine problems soon afterwards.

Nicholls made his first good start of the night to win heat eleven. Roynon went into third coming out of turn two and rode a good race to keep out GP rider Pedersen and almost managed to catch Smolinski on the line.

Harris used the outside line to good effect in winning heat twelve but no advantage was gained as Roynon could not find a way past the visiting pair.

Heat thirteen put paid to any hopes of a Bees recovery. Pedersen led from Nicholls but entering the third lap Nicholls tried a desparate outside overtake and caught Pedersen’s footrest and sent both flying in a nasty tumble. Nicholl’s bike was a complete write off and the first turn fence did not escape with the boards behind the air fence being dislodged. Both riders walked away although Nicholls was taken to hospital with shoulder injuries. In the rerun the visiting pair easily outpaced the sluggish Kennett.

Bees now needed two maximums to salvage a draw from the match. It did not happen and despite a good ride from Roynon, Auty was the winner of heat fourteen with Barker taking third.

Birmingham needed just two points from the final race to take all four Elite League points. Although Harris won the race and robbed Ulamek of his maximum in the process, Kennett ended a disappointing night by once again failing to finish.

This was not a night for Bees fans to remember fondly. The set up of the team relies heavily on the top four and not for the first time they failed to deliver. The only exception was Harris, who despite not being quite back to his best dropped just one point to the opposition. Especially disappointing was Kennett who was plagued with machine problems and could manage just four points.

Birmingham came into this match on the back of a wake-up call from their management. If Bees are to make any progress in the remainder of the season it looks if their management must follow a similar course.

Bee’s scorer’s: Harris 13(1), Roynon 6(1), Nicholls 6, Lanham 5(1), Kennett, Larsen 4(1), Bager 2.

Swedish Grand Prix.

It was another disappointing night for Chris Harris in Stockholm. He finished up bottom of the pile with just three points. Already with only four rounds gone it looks as if only a good performance in the qualifiers will get him a place in next years competition. He was blighted with machine problems and looked off the pace throughout the meeting. He still managed to spring a surprise in his last outing however, by beating Emil Sayfutdinov and Antonio Lindback.

This series is following the lines of its motor racing equivalent with four rounds producing four different winners. This time it was Fredrik Lindgren who took the honours, this after just scraping into the semi-final stage with seven points. Second place went to Greg Hancock with Chris Holder third.

Harris’ first qualifying round is at Berwick on Saturday June 25th. There is a coach going to Shielfield Park so Bees fans can give him the support he needs. It will be an all day trip, giving you time to look around this Border town. The cost is £25.00 and £22.00 concessions. The coach leaves Brandon at 8.00. Bookings can be made at the kiosk in Speed Square or by telephoning 01788 562132.

Preview.

Bees take on Lakeside in the new-look Knock Cup over the weekend. The first leg is at Brandon on Friday with the return at Lakeside on Saturday. It will be an emotional issue with Lee Richardson, who recently lost his life in Poland, being a member of both teams during his career. The Hammers are currently riding high in the Elite League. They have a top two of veteran Peter Karlsson and Davey Watt. Ex Bee Stuart Robson continues to turn in some good performances. They will also be operating rider replacement.

Bees will be without Scott Nicholls, whose broken collarbone is expected to keep him out for about three weeks.

The meeting is being run over a new format. On the surface it appears to be complicated but basically there are no tactical rides but losing teams can call for a match race between two nominated riders if they drop behind. There are no set gate positions, riders being able to either of the programmed two they wish. It is a brave attempt to liven up the competition and it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Friday’s meeting starts at the usual time of 8pm.