News from Coventry Storm
Coventry Storm completed their National League fixtures in a double header meeting which was to be the last in the British season. Both Eastbourne and Mildenhall were easily despatched in a meeting which attracted Storm’s biggest crowd of the season and triggered off hopes that Storm will be in action in 2016.
Storm 55, Eastbourne 36.
Storm was without the injured Dan Greenwood and brought in Liam Carr as a guest for both meetings.
Eastbourne had clinched the league Knock-out Cup the previous evening but appeared to be out of sorts. A series of machine failures plus a couple of falls in the first half gave Storm a comfortable lead by the halfway stage.
Carr and Rob Shuttleworth took an opening maximum in the opening race.
The visitors looked like equalising but missed out in an eventful heat two. They led from the start. Conor Dwyer then fell on turn three. A 5-1 was averted when Richard Andrews fell allowing Callum Walker and the remounted Dwyer to take a share of the points.
Heat three looked like being shared before the visitor’s Daniel Spiller pulled out on the last lap.
More points were gained in heat four when the luckless Andrews fall while in third place.
The points were shared in heat five before Storm took a 4-2 in heat six.
Eastbourne’s luck again deserted them in the next. Spiller was penalised 15 metres for a tapes offence. When the race got underway he turned in a fine burst of speed to lead after lap two but then suffered machine problems on the last lap.
Georgie Wood was given a tactical ride in heat eight. Andrews was again in trouble, this time being put back on 15 meters for tape breaking. After challenging for the lead, Wood fell on the third lap, whilst Andrews again failed to finish. The resultant 5-0 heat win gave Storm a halfway lead of 32-15.
Storm then took successive maximums to ensure victory.
The best race of the night saw Martin Knuckey getting the verdict over Bradley Wilson-Dean in a blanket finish.
Storm took another maximum in heat twelve before Eastbourne took their first race advantage of the night with a 5-1 after Knuckey had taken a maximum ruining fall on the second lap.
Ritchings and Spiller had a good race in fourteen with Ritchings just taking the flag.
With the match won, Storm gave the two reserves an outing in the nominated race and it was no surprise to see the visitors top two of Wilson-Dean and Ben Hopwood make the score a little more respectable 57-32.
Storm Scorers; Carr 10, Ritchings 9(2), Knuckey 9, Shuttleworth, Dwyer 8(2), Baseby 8(1), Walker 5.
Storm 55, Mildenhall 36.
For this match Storm brought in Jamie Holder in the reserve spot instead of Callum Walker.
An eventful heat one opened proceedings. Storm led out of turn two before Tom Bacon fell at the end of the first lap. This left the respective number ones, Carr and Danny Ayres battling it out for the lead. Carr then fell on the same spot a lap later to give Mildenhall an early lead.
Storm led in heat two but Jamie Holder was relegated to third by Ben Basford.
Jack Kingston suffered machine problems before the start of heat three and was replaced by Luke Ruddick. Mark Baseby took the lead coming out of turn two followed by Darryl Ritchings at the end of lap one.
Connor Dwyer led heat four with Martin Knuckey going from fourth to first on the back straight of lap one. This maximum put Storm 16-7 ahead.
Ayres was leading heat five before Tom Bacon took a nasty fall under the air-fence on the Rugby turn. The Storm pair took the lead in the rerun but a good piece of riding by Ayres saw him pass both riders coming out of turn two on the second lap.
Carr won heat six with Shuttleworth passing Connor Coles on the back straight for second place.
Knuckey won a shared heat seven before Mildenhall hit more problems in heat eight. Bacon was in the thick of it challenging for second before going wide and almost clipping the fence coming out of the Rugby turn. In trying to correct himself he almost collected partner Ruddick on the back straight. Both riders stayed on to finish but Bacon collapsed after finishing and was taken off with an ankle injury which put him out of his last ride. This left the halfway score at 32-15 to Storm.
Coles took a tactical ride in heat nine which was stopped after Baseby fell and Coles had to bale out to avoid him. Ritchings was a comfortable winner of the rerun. Cole’s four points did give them a 5-3 heat advantage.
Storm took a heat ten maximum before Ayres rode another good race to shake off the persistent Knuckey in heat eleven and with Ruddick in third take a 4-2.
Mildenhall again led in heat twelve but despite Baseby getting by Basford held out for another 4-2.
Heat thirteen saw the second meeting of the two number ones. It was Knuckey however who led the race with Ayres falling on the second lap while under no real pressure.
Mildenhall again led from the start in the penultimate race before a tight back straight saw Ruddick lose second place. He then ended his night by falling on the Rugby turn. Carr won a shared heat thirteen to make the final score 55-36 to Storm.
Although storm were easy winners Mildenhall put on a much better performance than Eastbourne in the previous match and with a little good fortune could have run Storm much closer.
Storm scorers; Carr 11(1), Knuckey 11, Ritchings 9(1), Shuttleworth 8(3), Dwyer 8(1), Baseby 6(1), Halder 2(1)
Mildenhall scorers; Ayres 11, Mountain 8(1), Coles 7, Kingston, Basford 4(1), Ruddick 2, Bacon 0.
Australian Grand Prix.
Chris Harris may be wondering whether the long journey to Melbourne was really necessary after finishing with a blank scoresheet in the final round of the 2015 season.
A night littered with problems, which included machinery problems and a controversial exclusion did not do justice to his efforts.
After making the start in his opening race he came out worst of a tight first turn and just failed to get third place from Matej Zagar.
He failed to reach the first turn in his second before his machine packed up. After reportedly blowing a motor in practice, this was all he needed.
Again bundled out on the first turn in his third outing he recovered but just failed to get in the points.
Heat fifteen looked promising when he once again led from the start. He held out this time but the race was stopped after Maciej Janowski ran out of room when trying to pass. It was a difficult decision for the referee but he ruled in favour of Janowski as Harris had moved over on him.
His gating had been good but after another fast start in his last race, he lifted entering the third turn and was again relegated to the back.
The final was marred by a nasty first turn accident involving three riders. Greg Hancock recovered to win followed by Niels Kristian Iversen and Janowski.
Coventry are making early team building plans for 2016 following the first section of the sport’s AGM in Rugby last weekend.
They must build to a points limit of 40.50 which will include all seven riders, including fast track reserves.
One rider who however will not be at Brandon next year is Hans Andersen. The Dane had a season which was not up to his usual standard. Some indifferent home performances, partly hampered by machinery problems, convinced him it was time to move on. It is reported that he has signed for Elite League champions, Poole.