Coventry Buildbase Bees were looking for a good result at Birmingham on Thursday after the below par effort at Poole the previous Monday.
It was not to be, for after a mid-match rally in which they came to within two points of their hosts, a virtual collapse in the final four races saw them finally leave Perry Barr without a point on their Elite League total, going down by 51 points to 39. Even more devastating for Bees was that much of the damage was done by their own assets, Ben Barker and Rory Schlein.
Birmingham 51 Bees 39
Both teams had injury problems so it was a couple of unusual-looking line-ups that contested the first fixture at Birmingham between the teams for many a year. Bees were without Hans Andersen and Przemyslaw Pawlicki while their hosts were missing Krzysztof Kasprzak and Danny King. Bees recruited Chris Harris and used rider replacement while the Brummies brought in Schlein and also used rider-replacement. To add further insult to injury both Birmingham’s doubling–up reserves were injured so they recruited the in-form Dennis Andersson, who was on Bees radar but the winter problems prevented any move for him.
Bees made a good start with Kenni Larsen winning heat one and Harris just losing out on second place after a good battle with Schlein.
Both of Bees reserves had previous Perry Barr experience but it was the home pair of Claus Vissing and Andersen who took the honours in heat two.
Andersson was out again in the next and teamed up with Barker for a second 5-1 in succession. Ryan Fisher came third while Larsen fell at the start of the second lap, seemingly aided by Fisher!.
Birmingham made the start to heat four but both Bees were by Vissing by the end of the first lap.
Barker and Schlein came out ahead of a tight first turn to heat five. Harris managed to get by Schlein but the resulting 2-4 reverse opened up an eight home lead.
Kennett won heat six before Larsen was in the wars again in heat seven. Larsen had been involved in a good race with Vissing. The home rider had already been in trouble before falling on turn one. Larsen had to take avoiding action. Vissing was excluded and in the rerun Bees rode a good race to see off the challenge of Daniel Nermark and bring Bees back to within four points.
Bees came right back into it in heat eight with Kennett shaking off an early Dryml challenge and Sweetman holding out Andersson for a Bees 4-2. This left the score 25-23 at the halfway stage.
Heat nine was also drawn after a super scrap between Kennett and Barker with the Bees man finally getting the verdict after Barker clipped the fence coming out of the last turn.
Fisher and Larsen made the start to heat ten but Schlein found a way through the middle on the back straight, leaving the Bees pair to keep out Dryml.
Harris just lost to Nermark in heat eleven but with Andersson last the points were once again shared.
With four heats to go there were just two points in it and Bees looked set for at least a point.
Hopes were quickly dashed in heat twelve when Barker and Andersson combined for a 5-1 over Morris.
Heat thirteen saw the Birmingham pair make the start but in typical Bomber fashion Harris had taken the lead by the start of the third lap. Schlein was not to be outdone and regained the advantage on the last bend and with Nermark taking third, Bees were now eight in arrears and needed to take the advantage from the last two races.
Unfortunately it was the home team who were coming on the strongest and another Andersson-Barker 5-1 ensured all three points were staying at Birmingham.
Harris won his first race of the night in heat fifteen but it was all too late, the final score being 51-39 to the home side.
Bees are obviously missing Przemyslaw Pawlicki and Hans Andersen. Pawlicki should be returning by the next home fixture but reports of Andersen’s injury are not good and Bees must surely looking for a short term replacement.
To lose all three points was a disappointment and more was possibly expected from Sweetman, Fisher and Morris who have all had experience of the Perry Barr circuit. One bright spot was the form of Larsen who despite hitting the deck twice returned a score of nine points from his five rides.
Bees’ scorers: Kennett 10(1), Harris 10, Larsen 9, Fisher 4(2), Sweetman 4(1), Morris 2.
The second round of the GP series in Sweden was hampered by persistent rain and only sixteen rather processional heats were completed before the inevitable abandonment came. Chris Holder was declared the winner with nine points. Chris Harris scored five but with so few races completed there is very little movement in the overall rankings.
After a week’s break, Bees have a home match on Friday against Lakeside. The Hammers are led by Lee Richardson and also include Adam Shields and Stuart Robson. Again this should be a win for Bees but on the evidence of the last three matches it could go either way.
Bees then have another difficult away match on Wednesday when they visit King’s Lynn who return to the Elite League after a spell in the Premier. They have a top two of Kenneth Bjerre and Niels Kristian Iversen. They also include former Bees Filip Sitera and Olly Allen who is at present on the injured list. Saddlebow Road is a fast demanding circuit and Bees need to pull something special out of the bag if they are to have any success there.