News from Coventry Bees and Storm
Coventry Buildbase Bees are becoming well known for their recovery powers and on Friday they were at it again turning an eight point deficit against Birmingham into a two-point victory in the space of three races.
Before that however they suffered a heavy defeat in an eventful meeting at high-flying King’s Lynn.
One thing pleasing both fans and management is the return to form of skipper Chris Harris, top scoring in both matches and turning in an improved performance in Saturday’s Czech Republic Grand prix.
King’s Lynn 54,
For once Bees had their full seven riders available mainly because a meeting for Kyle Howarth for his parent club was called off at lunchtime so he quickly moved east for this fixture.
King’s Lynn made the start in heat one and was on a 5-1 until Niels Kristian Iversen suffered machine failure at the end of lap three. As Howarth had stopped earlier Lynn still had a heat advantage, albeit only 3-2.
Jason Garrity was penalised 15 metres for a tapes offence in the next. The Lynn pair again made the start but both Garrity and James Sarjeant caught and went by Darren Mallett on lap two.
Chris Harris failed to make the start to heat three which ended in a maximum for the homesters.
Another home 5-1 followed before an exciting heat five which saw all four of the riders lead at one stage but was eventually won by Iversen who went from fourth to first for his victory.
Hans Andersen and Harris took a 5-1 in a twice rerun heat six.
Heat seven was shared before another home 5-1 put the halfway score at 28-19 to King’s Lynn.
An eventful heat nine caused an hour’s delay to proceedings. At the first attempt to run a three-man pile up on turn three between Garrity, Mallett and Sarjeant saw the latter two taken to hospital.
When the rerun got underway there were only two men involved, Lewis Kerr and Garrity. Another attempt was thwarted when Garrity clipped Kerr’s back wheel and took a nasty fall. Even the third attempt ended in farce. Garrity was excluded for crossing the white line and Kerr misread the flag signals and slowed down. He eventually got going to record a 3-0 heat win.
Harris took a six-point tactical win in heat ten but after that it went downhill for Bees with King’s Lynn dropping just one point in the next four races.
It was then left to Andersen and Harris to restore some respectability with a 5-1 in the final heat.
Bees’ scorers: Harris 12(2), Andersen 9, Garrity 4(2), Hansen 4, Fisher 2(1), Howarth, Sarjeant 2.
The original fixture had been rained off the previous Monday and had hastily been re-arranged for four days later. As the meeting progressed many people felt that it had not really been worthwhile.
Bees were without Kenneth Hansen, who had a prior engagement in Denmark and James Sarjeant, injured at King’s Lynn the previous night. They were only allowed two fast track reserves as replacements. These came in the form of Lewis Blackbird and Storm’s Oliver Greenwood. The visitors had Josh Grajczonek guesting for Ben Barker and utilised rider replacement for the injured Adam Skornicki.
Before the meeting the Mayor of Rugby, Tony Gillias, did a few laps on his old machine – the first time in ten years!
The visitors made the best start with the two Daniels, King and Nermark notching up a comfortable 5-1 over Andersen.
Heat two was rerun after the visitors Josh Bates fell on the first turn. In the restart Garrity and Greenwood led from the start. Simon Lambert soon went by Greenwood to keep the Brummies ahead.
It was becoming obvious that gates one and three were the most advantageous and King and Grajczonek held off Harris for another maximum.
Another good start from Nermark and Lambert was foiled when Blackbird overtook Lambert on the back straight.
Bees hit back with an Andersen-Harris 5-1 in the next before thoughts of a quick fight back were shattered in the next. After the visitors again led from the start Fisher caught the back wheel of Grajczonek on the Coventry turn, causing both to crash heavily. After some delay both riders were withdrawn from the meeting. In the rerun Blackbird made a good start but could not hold Nermark.
Heats seven and eight were shared, leaving the halfway score at 27-21 to the visitors.
Birmingham was on another maximum until Lambert retired with machine problems on the second lap.
King won heat ten with Bees set for a share of the points until Howarth slowed on the second lap.
Heat eleven saw Harris turn in one of his best rides of the season. Nico Covatti made the start from the Bees pair. Blackbird got into trouble on the first turn and was out of contention. Harris chased Covatti and regained the lead at the end of the third lap.
With time running out Bees still could not make inroads. In heat twelve Howarth and Garrity made the start but Nermark went between them on turn two. Looking set for three points Bees were almost caught out when a last bend burst from Lambert almost got him the verdict on the line.
It was now 42-30 with Bees needing another of their comebacks that they have become known for.
Heat thirteen should have been a nailed-on 5-1 but somehow Andersen let Covatti by at the end of lap two.
It now needed two maximums to get a narrow win and the first came after Garrity and Blackbird got ahead of the dangerous Covatti out of turn two and held out for the result needed.
This left Andersen and Harris to seal it in heat fifteen and with the expected challenge from King and Nermark not materialising they did it with relative ease to give Bees another against the odds victory.
Bees’ scoring was topped by Harris who looked more like his old self. Blackbird proved to be an inspired guest booking with a paid ten return. The only worry at the moment is the form of Fisher who is probably trying too hard to compensate and is getting into all sorts of trouble.
Another pleasing factor was the state of Brandon’s much-maligned track. A new team is in place for the preparation and everyone agreed it was the best it has been all season. There was still a large imbalance in the starting positions but there is no doubt that will be worked on before the next match.
Bees’ scorers: Harris 12(1), Andersen, Blackbird, Garrity 9(1), Howarth 5, Greenwood 2(1), Fisher 0.
Czech Republic Grand Prix
Despite missing Friday’s practice due to Bees match, Chris Harris turned in his best performance of the competition so far. Six points may not seem a lot but he rode with much more fire and he not failed to leave the start in his first race, he could well have qualified for the semi-final.
The meeting was won by reigning champion Tai Woffinden with Greg Hancock second and Matej Zagar third.
Woffinden and Hancock are joint leaders at the moment on 46 points with Darcy Ward one behind on 45.
Kent 53, Coventry Storm 37.
It was a much depleted Storm side that contested this fixture. Three guests were included, Sam Chapman, Adam Sheppard and Brendan Johnson and rider replacement was utilised for Oliver Greenwood. Stefan Nielsen had returned to fitness but was required by Belle Vue. Ironically this match was rained off but there was no way he could have travelled to Kent
It was a match scattered with falls and it was Storm who suffered first when race leader Chapman fell on the first lap of heat one. In the restart the home side took maximum points. Storm immediately equalised despite Martin Knuckey having to quickly recover after nearly falling.
Heat three was shared before two home 5-1’s put the King’s in the driving seat and 19-11 up.
Storm pulled two back in heat six but after three more shared heats Kent brought the margin back to eight with a 4-2.
Kent was providing the majority of race wins with Storm picking up what they could from the minor places.
A heat thirteen 4-2 virtually settled it before Kent finished up with a last race maximum which made the score a slightly flattering 53-37.
Team manager Laurence Rogers was not dismayed and said he was proud of the team for their battling display.
Apart from Dan Greenwood with three, Storm produced only two more race winners, Johnson and Ryan Terry-Daley.
Storm now have nearly four weeks before their next scheduled fixture which should allow time for the injured trio to recover.
Storm scorers: Dan Greenwood 12, Brendan Johnson10, Ryan Terry-Daley 8(1), Martin Knuckey 5(1), Sam Chapman 2(2), Adam Sheppard 0.
It is a quiet week this week with Bees having just one match. They meet local rivals Wolverhampton tomorrow night (Friday). A good contest is in prospect as the visitors are led by World Champion Tai Woffinden and also include ex-Bees Przemyslaw Pawlicki and Ricky Wells. The meeting starts at 7.30pm.
Storm does not have a meeting for a couple of weeks which is probably good news with the present heavy injury list.