SPEEDWAY: By Alan Goodman

Alan Goodman
Alan Goodman

News from Coventry Bees and Storm

Coventry Bees’ home record is improving week by week and the third home win on the trot against Belle Vue puts them well on course for a play-off place at the end of the season. Inspired by new signing Michael Jepson Jensen, apart from a slight mid match hiccup, they easily disposed of their northern opponents in an entertaining match on a track that has improved considerably in recent weeks.

Coventry Bees 52, Belle Vue 40.

Bees were at full strength for this clash between the two of Speedway’s oldest clubs.

New signing Michael Jepsen Jensen was making his home debut while Chris Harris once again opted out of that day’s Grand Prix practice.

For the visitors Craig Cook was required by his parent club and was replaced by guest Danny King while Matej Zagar attended the GP practice only to find it cancelled due to heavy rain in Sweden. Rider Replacement was operated in his absence.

Bees made the best possible start, Hans Andersen and Kyle Howarth taking a 5-1 over Michael Palm Toft in a race rerun after riders moved at the tapes.

Heat two was also rerun after James Sarjeant fell on turn two and could not clear the track in time. Jason Garrity was a good winner over Stefan Nielsen, well known for his exploits with Coventry Storm.

King was an easy winner of heat three but Harris and Jensen combined well to keep out Scott Nicholls.

Garrity made the start to heat four and with Kenneth Hansen finding grip on his favourite outside line and taking second place Bees were eight points up.

Andersen and Harris made the start to heat one but Nicholls proved he still knew his way around Brandon by taking second from Harris at the end of the first lap.

With Bees lead now at ten points Belle Vue gave King a tactical ride for double points. Paired with Ritchie Worrall they made the start and looked like getting the result they wanted. Fortunately for Bees a mistake by Worrall let in Jensen for second place. With Hansen falling on the third the Aces still had a 7-2 heat advantage.

Two shared heats followed to make the halfway score 28-23 to Bees.

Heat nine was rerun twice. At the first attempt Sarjeant got caught up in the tapes but a restart with all four riders was ordered. At the second attempt Sarjeant and Nielsen tangled on the first turn and both went crashing into the air fence. Again no exclusion but as neither rider was fit to resume, Garrity easily defeated Lee Payne in a two-man race.

Nicholls and King were out against Andersen in heat ten. Although Andersen made the start Nicholls took the lead out of turn two. Despite a couple of hairy moments Andersen managed to hold on to second place.

Bees were now only four points ahead and there must have been a few worrying moments in the Bees camp.

The worries were eased slightly when Jensen won his first race in Bees colours and with Harris taking second, things were looking more comfortable.

Garrity was having probably his best night of the season. His maximum hopes went in heat twelve when he nearly collided with Worrall coming out of the start and was unable to recover and could only take third place. Howarth won the race to give Bees another 4-2 advantage.

Undoubtedly the best race of the night came in heat thirteen. Nicholls and King made the start but Andersen produced a brilliant move to split the pair coming out of turn two and while this was happening Harris came through on the inside to follow his partner home in a match-winning move.

Garrity returned to his winning ways by beating Palm Toft in an excellent heat fourteen.

There was really nothing at stake in heat fifteen as Bees had all three match points sealed up. This was probably why Jensen was picked to partner Harris in heat fifteen. Despite a good effort by Jensen, Nicholls and king raced home for maximum points and make the final score 52-40 to Bees.

Jensen impressed in his first meeting and should prove a valuable asset. Another good performance came from Garrity whose thirteen points was his best yet. Andersen also had a good meeting dropping just one point. If this side can be kept together the rest of the season can be an enjoyable one for Bees faithful.

After the meeting Sarjeant went to hospital to have a suspected vertebrae injury checked but it apparently was not as serious as thought but he will have missed the National League pairs meeting at Mildenhall last Sunday. Nielsen also appeared to come out of the crash relatively unscathed.

Bees’ scorers; Garrity 13, Andersen 11, Jensen 9(1), Harris 7(2), Howarth 7(1), Hansen 4(2), Sarjeant 1(1).

Swedish Grand Prix

A good start to the meeting by Chris Harris gave hope that he could accumulate a few more points than normal and help him in his quest to reach the top eight.

Unfortunately changing track conditions worked against him and after scoring four points from his first two rides he could only manage one more from his remaining three.

The previous day’s rain had left the track grippy, especially on the outside line.

In his first ride he was last from the gate and was involved in a good battle with Fredrik Lindgren and eventually finished third.

He then went on to record his first heat win of this year’s competition when he held off Andreas Jonsson and Jarek Hampel in an excellent heat six.

The track was drying out and heavy watering left it slippery and something of a gaters paradise and he finished at the back in his next two outings.

He took one point in heat twenty after a good battle with Martin Smolinski.

He still lies fifteenth in the rankings and if he wants a place in next year’s competition he will have to earn it through the present qualifying rounds, the first at Berwick last week he successfully negotiated.

Preview

Bees face a tough one on Friday (20th), when Poole Pirates are the visitors. Poole are level on points with the Bees in the Elite League table, making this a match not to miss. Unfortunately at the time of writing the exact line-ups are not known as the GP qualifying rounds are taking place this weekend. Poole are led by Darcy Ward and also include Poles Przemyslaw Pawlicki and Maciej Janowski.

Whatever the teams, there is sure to be some good races in this vital clash. The meeting starts at the usual time of 7.30 p.m.

British Final

Bees were represented by Chris Harris and Jason Garrity. A third representative, Stefan Nielson, pulled out at lunchtime.

Harris eventually finished fourth in a shambolic final which took four attempts to run.

The star of the show however, was Garrity, who surprised everyone by qualifying for the semi-final stage. What was to come was not evident in his first race when after making the start he went from first to last.

In his next race however he led Scott Nicholls, despite losing his steel shoe, only to lose out on the final turn.

Heat fourteen was probably the best of his career when he led current World Champion Tai Woffinden from start to finish to receive an ovation from the many Bees fans present. Another win saw him through to semi on the count back system, him two race wins standing him in good stead.

In the semi he was against Woffinden, Harris and Craig Cook. He lost out on a tight first turn and had to watch as a terrific scrap between Harris and Nicholls which saw the latter excluded after Harris had hit the first turn deck. Woffinden was a clear winner with Harris taking the other final spot.

The final was a meeting on its own, taking four attempts to run. First bend incidents saw Barker (twice) and Cook come down. In the end Woffinden won to retain his title while Cook took second to claim the wild card spot at the British Grand Prix at Cardiff.