SPEEDWAY: By Alan Goodman

Alan Goodman

Alan Goodman

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Bees’ hopes of a play-off place looking very slim

Coventry Buildbase Bees hopes of an Elite League play off place are all but over. Although it remains mathematically possible it will need some real shocks in the rest of the season. Two defeats over the past week saw Bees still in the bottom regions of the table and with further injury problems occurring, Bees are virtually riding for pride only.

Bees 44, Swindon 48.

Elite League

This was a quick return for Swindon, being at Brandon just three weeks earlier. Swindon won that particular meeting but with Bees at full strength they were hoping for a reversal. Bees tracked new signing Michal Szczepaniak at reserve while Josh Grajczonek was a late replacement for Matej Kus in the Robins side.

Points were shared in the opening heat which was won by Hans Andersen. His partner Nick Morris originally held second but Adam Roynon found a way by on the second turn. Chris Harris took a little longer but went by at the end of the lap. The riders touched which appeared to unsettle Morris who fell on the next turn.

A close start to heat two saw all four riders abreast on the first turn. Aaron Summers eased ahead out of turn two but it was Dawid Lampart who led into the Coventry turn. Szczepaniak soon moved into third to score his first points for Bees.

Kenni Larsen made the start to heat three and held off an early challenge from Troy Batchelor. Edward Kennett then squeezed by Batchelor and held out to give Bees a 5-1.

Szczepaniak led heat four and an early challenge from Peter Kildemand ended with machine problems at the end of lap one. Scott Nicholls appeared to lack power but used his experience to hold off the forceful Lampart.

Bees were now eight points up but it started to go wrong in heat five. A tight first turn saw both Andersen and Larsen fall with the latter hitting the air fence. Kennett who seemed to be the unwitting cause of the incident managed to stay afloat. Both riders recovered but in the rerun it was Swindon all the way to halve the deficit in one stroke.

Roynon and Harris quickly regained the points after Kildemand had again pulled out with machinery problems.

Nicholls led in heat seven but Batchelor was by on the back straight. Summers put in a good ride to get the better of Simon Stead for a share of the points.

Roynon was the winner of heat eight with the race stopped after Morris had locked up at the start of the final lap and partner Lampart could not avoid him. Morris was excluded with Lampart awarded second spot and Szczepaniak given third.

This gave Bees what was considered at the time a comfortable 29-19 lead.

Kildemand got it together to win heat nine with Bees taking the minor places after Grajczonek had pulled up with motor problems.

Swindon were now in a position to use a tactical ride and Batchelor was trusted with the black and white helmet. He duly obliged and with Stead doing a good holding job Harris had to work hard to get second place. The resulting 7-2 heat win put the visitors back in the hunt and after Andersen and Lampart took another 4-2 to reduce the deficit to just three there were worries amongst the Bees fans.

Stead overtook Kennett to win heat twelve but the points were shared after Lampart fell while under pressure from Sczcepaniak.

The Swindon top three appeared much faster than Bees heat leaders and it showed in heat thirteen. Swindon again made the start. They took each other wide on the second turn allowing both Bees get the better of Andersen. Chances of a shared heat did not last long as Nicholls made a mistake on turn four allowing Andersen to regain third spot.

One point now separated the teams and Bees needed a good result from heat fourteen. Once again Bees were left wanting out of the start but were given a second chance when Lampart took a nasty tumble coming out of turn two. Batchelor easily won the rerun, leaving it all on the final heat.

It came as no real surprise to see the Visiting pair of Batchelor and Andersen easily take the five points to earn their second win at Brandon.

Bees were hampered by a lack of power from the top end with none of the top three recording one the meagre tally of four heat wins produced by the Bees. The bottom end scored well but with only three points separating the scorers Bees were never going to win this.

Bee’s scorers; Harris Roynon 8, Harris 7(2), Larsen, Szczepaniak 6(2), Nicholls, Kennett 6(1), Summers 5(1).

Wolverhampton 51, Bees 39.

Elite League

Bees, who were without Adam Roynon and his doubling up partner Josef Franc, were further hit when it was learned that Scott Nicholls had injured his shoulder in a Polish crash the day before. Reports seem to indicate that it was the same shoulder he injured a few weeks ago. Bees had to use rider–replacement and also bring in Kevin Doolan as a guest reserve.

The meeting opened with two shared heats, Fredrik Lindgren and Pontus Aspgren winning with Bees taking the minor placings.

Heat three saw an incident similar to the one at Brandon the previous Wednesday. Kennett took Ricky Wells and Larsen wide with the latter again being forced into the fence. Kennett was the man excluded and in the rerun Wells and Nicolai Klindt made no mistake winning from the gate and giving Wolves a four point lead.

Bees made the start to heat four but Tai Woffinden eventually got past Szczepaniak but too late to catch Harris.

Harris was out again in the next. Summers made the start but Harris and Wells went by on turn two. Harris went on to win with Summers holding out for a third which brought the scores level.

Wolves led heat six but a mistake by Ty Proctor let in Kennett for second place.

A promising looking tussle between Woffinden and Kennett ended on the third turn when Kennett fell after losing his footrest after clipping the fence. Larsen took second but Bees were now four behind.

Summers rode a good race to take second from Jacob Thorssel after losing out at the start.

Larsen was getting into his stride and was a good winner of heat nine.

He was out again in the next and looked set for a maximum with Kennett. Unfortunately Kennett overdid it on turn three but kept on his bike and just held on to third spot.

Bees still only trailed by four and felt they were in with a shout.

It all ended for Bees in heat eleven. Woffinden and Harris were involved in a good scrap only for Harris to fall and bring down Woffinden as well. Harris was excluded but even worse was ruled out of the meeting with concussion. Summers took second in the rerun but Bees were now up against it.

Klindt and Thorssel took a 4-2 in heat twelve before heat thirteen finished off Bees. Only able to track Summers and Szczepaniak, the pair were no match for Lindgren and Woffinden.

Larsen won a shared heat fourteen before coming out to make it four wins on the trot in the last race. This made the final result 51-39 to Wolverhampton and no points for Bees.

Larsen was the star man for Bees with a fifteen point score while Summers rode well and scored in all of his races. There was still a lack of consistency from Kennett although he could never be accused of not trying in fact his problems at the moment are coming from over trying. Szczepaniak only managed two but this must be his first experience of a small and tricky track like Monmore Green.

Bee’s scorers; Larsen 15, Summers 8, Harris 7(1), Kennett 5, Szczepaniak 2(1), Doolan 2.

Italian GP.

Chris Harris must consider himself slightly unlucky to have missed out on a semi final place in Saturday’s Grand Prix. On a Terenzano dust bowl Harris had ridden well and scored eight points in his first four races. He needed just one point from his final race to make sure of a spot. He made the start but was boxed in on the first turn and hit a hole which forced him to pick up grip and crash out of the race. Four riders finished on eight points with two spots available. Harris was one of the unlucky ones to miss out on the countback method.

His performance did move him up to tenth in the rankings but he still trails Andreas Jonsson in the elusive eighth spot by 24 points with four meetings left to go.

In a tightly fought meeting Antonio Lindback became yet another different winner of this series, beating Emil Sayfutdinov and Greg Hancock. Hancock however still leads the series with Nicki Pedersen second.

Preview.

Bees face two more tough matches this weekend. Tonight (Thursday) they visit Birmingham, who are hotly tipped for a play-off place and then they host Lakeside on Monday. This meeting starts at the earlier time of 7.30 p.m.

At the time of writing, the Bees management are struggling to find replacements for Harris and Nicholls and the unavailable doubling up riders.

World Under -21 Championship Final.

On Friday Brandon hosts the third round of the World Under -21 Championship Final. The top rising stars of the sport will be competing over 20 races. The field includes former Bees riders Przemyslaw and Piotr Pawlicki, reigning champion Maciej Janowski and Danish youngsters Michael Jepsen Jensen and Mikkel B. Jensen.

The gates open at 6.00 and admission is £20 adults, £16 concessions and £6.00 children.

The meeting starts at 7.30 with first race at 7.45.

Alan Goodman.