SPEEDWAY: By Alan Goodman

Alan Goodman
Alan Goodman
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Last week’s sudden resignation of long-standing Bees promoter Colin Pratt must have shocked many of the Coventry Bees fans as it came totally out of the blue.

Pratt joined the club in 1998 after spells at Rye House, Bradford, London Lions and Cradley Heath. At the time Bees were under the ownership of the Ochiltree family.

Pratt remained on board following the takeover by Avtar Sandhu in the winter of 2002 and won a host of major trophies in that time.

When Sandhu agreed a deal to sell the club to Mick Horton, Pratt stayed on as co-promoter and initially joint team manager.

Having already doubts about certain aspects of the running of the club, the final straw probably came when he was relieved of his joint team manager’s duties, leaving Blayne Scroggins in sole charge. Ironically the club recently advertised for an experienced man to share the duties.

In a final statement he said “things weren’t working out so I decided to part company but I can’t leave without thanking the supporters, the staff and the riders. They were always the most important people to me and I thank them for their support over the years”.

In a statement thanking Colin, Mick Horton pointed out that he was not just leasing the club as some people thought. The deal with Mr. Sandhu is to buy the franchise over a two-year period with various payments over that time to be completed during 2013.

Lakeside 47, Bees 43.

Elite League.

Although Bees are now out of the running for a play-off place, their hosts desperately needed all three points to claw their way back in contention. Lakeside were without Jonas Davidsson who has left the club after a poor run of results and with no new signing imminent they utilised rider-replacement. With the doubling up pair of Adam Roynon and Josef Franc unavailable Bees brought in Jan Graversen from Leicester as a guest.

Lakeside’s number one Davey Watt did not have the best of preparation for this match. His flight from Poland was cancelled and an alternate flight left him with little time to get from Stansted. This did not seem to affect him too much as he led from the start of a rerun heat one. A mistake by Chris Harris on turn three put him out of contention leaving Kim Nilssen to follow his partner home for an opening 5-1.

Bees made the start to heat two and for a while looked bringing Bees back level. Unfortunately, despite Graversen going on to win Michal Szczepaniak could not get the hang of the tricky Purfleet circuit and was soon passed by Robert Mear and was eventually caught by Justin Sedgman on the run in to the flag.

It was becoming increasingly obvious that gates one and three were by far the better two and results went with them. Edward Kennett came down on the first turn of heat three but was allowed back in. Once again the home side took advantage of the gates and took another maximum after Kennett retired on the second lap.

Lakeside had to field their two reserves but even these two managed to beat Scott Nicholls out of the traps in heat four. Nicholls was soon into second and took the lead at the end of the first lap after Mear had lifted coming out of turn four.

Peter Karlsson, the 42-year old Swedish veteran was an easy winner of a shared heat five before Nicholls again had to win heat six the hard way. Coming slowly out of the gate he found a gap on the inside of turn two to go ahead. Unfortunately Graversen could not repeat his earlier efforts and trailed well behind.

Bees made the start to heat seven but Larsen was also having problems with the track and went wide allowing Stuart Robson into second place.

Aaron Summers and Szczepaniak led heat eight and it was only a matter of whether Szczepaniak could hang on. He held out until the final lap but went wide when under pressure and let Nilssen through for second.

Bees were gradually clawing their way back into the match and had a stroke of good fortune in heat nine. Karlsson had bike problems prior to coming up to the tapes and was excluded on the two minute rule. He elected to start from fifteen metres back. Bees made the start but Robson was by Graversen on lap two. The speedy Karlsson had made up ground and was just passing Graversen as Robson pulled up with machine problems. The resulting Bees 4-2 brought the score to 31 -29 to Lakeside.

A good opportunity to draw level was lost in heat ten. Kennett and Larsen were quick away. Watt soon passed Larsen but a Bees 4-2 looked on the cards before Larsen fell on the final turn when in a comfortable third place.

Karlsson was an easy winner of heat eleven but his partner Sedgman was passed by both Harris and Summers before the first lap had been completed.

Karlsson was out again in the next and once again eased his way to comfortable win. A tight second turn saw Kennett come out in second place but Graversen had lost out to Mear so Bees now trailed again by four.

Harris took his first win of the night in heat thirteen despite Watt giving chase. Nicholls took third to bring Bees back to within two.

Lakeside brought in Mear for the vital heat fourteen and it proved an inspired move with the reserve taking a good win. Larsen was second but Szczpaniak completed a miserable night by colliding with Robson coming out of turn two and falling.

This left everything on the final heat. Bees needed a 5-1 to snatch a draw while Lakeside needed a 5-1 to take all three match points.

As it was despite Nicholls making the start, Karlsson showed his brilliance once again and a superb overtake coming out of turn two saw him vanish into the distance with Bees holding out Watt for a share of the heat points. The final score of 47-43 gave Bees a bonus point for losing by less than eight points.

Despite the problems of the past few days the team could not be faulted for their efforts and it was really only one man, Karlsson, who prevented them from taking their second away win of the season.

Bee’s scorers; Nicholls 11(1), Harris 10, Kennett 8, Summers 5(2), Larsen, Graversen 4, Szczepaniak 1.

Chris Harris must now rely on a wild card pick for next season’s GP series after again finishing well down the field in the Scandinavian GP in Sweden on Saturday.

Starting off with a last place in his opening ride he clawed his way back in contention with two seconds leaving himself just one point short of the top eight at the interval stage. He only managed a single point from his last two outings so with two GP’s left he needs some sort of miracle to make the cut for next year.

There will be a coach running to the ‘Remembering Rico ‘meeting at Lakeside on Friday September 28th.

The coach will leave the stadium at 3.00 p.m. and the cost is £17.00 and £15.00 concessions. Bookings can made at the kiosk or by telephoning 01788 562132. Any profits made from the coach will be donated to the Lee Richardson fund.

Preview,

Weather permitting, Bees should have ridden at King’s Lynn in a match that could see them go ahead of the local ‘stars’ if they win.

After this they have a couple of tasty matches to finish off their home Elite League programme.

Tomorrow (Friday) they entertain local rivals Birmingham, who are fighting for one of the last play-off places. There is a host of Brandon experience in their ranks with Ben Barker, Martin Smolinski, Josh Auty and Sebastian Ulamek all having ridden in Bees colours at one time or other.

On Wednesday they host Peterborough, another team still with play-off aspirations, who have recently re- signed Panthers legend, Ryan Sullivan. They also include Brandonapolis winner Linus Sundstrom and also have rising star Michael Jepsen Jensen in their ranks.

Bees may be out of the play offs but there is still some good racing to come at Brandon.

Although this finishes the Elite League season, Bees still have the knock Out Cup to ride for and will meet the winners of the Birmingham/Belle Vue tie in the semi-finals.

Last week’s sudden resignation of long-standing Bees promoter Colin Pratt must have shocked many of the Coventry Bees fans as it came totally out of the blue.

Pratt joined the club in 1998 after spells at Rye House, Bradford, London Lions and Cradley Heath. At the time Bees were under the ownership of the Ochiltree family.

Pratt remained on board following the takeover by Avtar Sandhu in the winter of 2002 and won a host of major trophies in that time.

When Sandhu agreed a deal to sell the club to Mick Horton, Pratt stayed on as co-promoter and initially joint team manager.

Having already doubts about certain aspects of the running of the club, the final straw probably came when he was relieved of his joint team manager’s duties, leaving Blayne Scroggins in sole charge. Ironically the club recently advertised for an experienced man to share the duties.

In a final statement he said “things weren’t working out so I decided to part company but I can’t leave without thanking the supporters, the staff and the riders. They were always the most important people to me and I thank them for their support over the years”.

In a statement thanking Colin, Mick Horton pointed out that he was not just leasing the club as some people thought. The deal with Mr. Sandhu is to buy the franchise over a two-year period with various payments over that time to be completed during 2013.

Lakeside 47, Bees 43.

Elite League.

Although Bees are now out of the running for a play-off place, their hosts desperately needed all three points to claw their way back in contention. Lakeside were without Jonas Davidsson who has left the club after a poor run of results and with no new signing imminent they utilised rider-replacement. With the doubling up pair of Adam Roynon and Josef Franc unavailable Bees brought in Jan Graversen from Leicester as a guest.

Lakeside’s number one Davey Watt did not have the best of preparation for this match. His flight from Poland was cancelled and an alternate flight left him with little time to get from Stansted. This did not seem to affect him too much as he led from the start of a rerun heat one. A mistake by Chris Harris on turn three put him out of contention leaving Kim Nilssen to follow his partner home for an opening 5-1.

Bees made the start to heat two and for a while looked bringing Bees back level. Unfortunately, despite Graversen going on to win Michal Szczepaniak could not get the hang of the tricky Purfleet circuit and was soon passed by Robert Mear and was eventually caught by Justin Sedgman on the run in to the flag.

It was becoming increasingly obvious that gates one and three were by far the better two and results went with them. Edward Kennett came down on the first turn of heat three but was allowed back in. Once again the home side took advantage of the gates and took another maximum after Kennett retired on the second lap.

Lakeside had to field their two reserves but even these two managed to beat Scott Nicholls out of the traps in heat four. Nicholls was soon into second and took the lead at the end of the first lap after Mear had lifted coming out of turn four.

Peter Karlsson, the 42-year old Swedish veteran was an easy winner of a shared heat five before Nicholls again had to win heat six the hard way. Coming slowly out of the gate he found a gap on the inside of turn two to go ahead. Unfortunately Graversen could not repeat his earlier efforts and trailed well behind.

Bees made the start to heat seven but Larsen was also having problems with the track and went wide allowing Stuart Robson into second place.

Aaron Summers and Szczepaniak led heat eight and it was only a matter of whether Szczepaniak could hang on. He held out until the final lap but went wide when under pressure and let Nilssen through for second.

Bees were gradually clawing their way back into the match and had a stroke of good fortune in heat nine. Karlsson had bike problems prior to coming up to the tapes and was excluded on the two minute rule. He elected to start from fifteen metres back. Bees made the start but Robson was by Graversen on lap two. The speedy Karlsson had made up ground and was just passing Graversen as Robson pulled up with machine problems. The resulting Bees 4-2 brought the score to 31 -29 to Lakeside.

A good opportunity to draw level was lost in heat ten. Kennett and Larsen were quick away. Watt soon passed Larsen but a Bees 4-2 looked on the cards before Larsen fell on the final turn when in a comfortable third place.

Karlsson was an easy winner of heat eleven but his partner Sedgman was passed by both Harris and Summers before the first lap had been completed.

Karlsson was out again in the next and once again eased his way to comfortable win. A tight second turn saw Kennett come out in second place but Graversen had lost out to Mear so Bees now trailed again by four.

Harris took his first win of the night in heat thirteen despite Watt giving chase. Nicholls took third to bring Bees back to within two.

Lakeside brought in Mear for the vital heat fourteen and it proved an inspired move with the reserve taking a good win. Larsen was second but Szczpaniak completed a miserable night by colliding with Robson coming out of turn two and falling.

This left everything on the final heat. Bees needed a 5-1 to snatch a draw while Lakeside needed a 5-1 to take all three match points.

As it was despite Nicholls making the start, Karlsson showed his brilliance once again and a superb overtake coming out of turn two saw him vanish into the distance with Bees holding out Watt for a share of the heat points. The final score of 47-43 gave Bees a bonus point for losing by less than eight points.

Despite the problems of the past few days the team could not be faulted for their efforts and it was really only one man, Karlsson, who prevented them from taking their second away win of the season.

Bee’s scorers; Nicholls 11(1), Harris 10, Kennett 8, Summers 5(2), Larsen, Graversen 4, Szczepaniak 1.

Chris Harris must now rely on a wild card pick for next season’s GP series after again finishing well down the field in the Scandinavian GP in Sweden on Saturday.

Starting off with a last place in his opening ride he clawed his way back in contention with two seconds leaving himself just one point short of the top eight at the interval stage. He only managed a single point from his last two outings so with two GP’s left he needs some sort of miracle to make the cut for next year.

There will be a coach running to the ‘Remembering Rico ‘meeting at Lakeside on Friday September 28th.

The coach will leave the stadium at 3.00 p.m. and the cost is £17.00 and £15.00 concessions. Bookings can made at the kiosk or by telephoning 01788 562132. Any profits made from the coach will be donated to the Lee Richardson fund.

Preview,

Weather permitting, Bees should have ridden at King’s Lynn in a match that could see them go ahead of the local ‘stars’ if they win.

After this they have a couple of tasty matches to finish off their home Elite League programme.

Tomorrow (Friday) they entertain local rivals Birmingham, who are fighting for one of the last play-off places. There is a host of Brandon experience in their ranks with Ben Barker, Martin Smolinski, Josh Auty and Sebastian Ulamek all having ridden in Bees colours at one time or other.

On Wednesday they host Peterborough, another team still with play-off aspirations, who have recently re- signed Panthers legend, Ryan Sullivan. They also include Brandonapolis winner Linus Sundstrom and also have rising star Michael Jepsen Jensen in their ranks.

Bees may be out of the play offs but there is still some good racing to come at Brandon.

Although this finishes the Elite League season, Bees still have the knock Out Cup to ride for and will meet the winners of the Birmingham/Belle Vue tie in the semi-finals.