Coventry Buildbase Bees late entry into the Elite League left them with fixture problems which really came to the fore last weekend.
A fixture list had already been drawn up before their reinstatement and Bees had to fit in wherever possible. These left them with little room to manoeuvre over clashes of dates and it was once again a team weakened by international calls that saw them lose both home and away to Swindon.
Swindon 50, Bees 42.
Bees were already weakened through the absence of Emil Sayfutdinov on a Russian fixture with no replacement facility allowed. Bees also had problems in the reserve positions as three doubling up riders were unavailable for one reason or another. No eight Todd Kurtz rode at number one with Rye House youngster Tyron Nelson partnering Travis McGowan at reserve.
Przemyslaw Pawlicki made a welcome return to the side and promptly gave Bees hope by defeating new British Champion Scott Nicholls in heat one.
Bees reserve problems were quickly exposed when the home pair easily won a restarted heat two from the gate.
Problems came in heat three when after Ryan Fisher and Kenni Larsen had resisted attempts to force them wide on the first turn, Fisher then fell on the third and brought down Simon Stead with him. In the rerun Stead teamed up with Maciek Janowski for a second 5-1.
Edward Kennett and McGowan made the start to heat three. Nicolai Klindt overtook McGowan on turn three but with Cory Gathercole falling at the start of the second lap the resulting 4-2 brought Bees back into the match.
Pawlicki won a shared heat five before Kennett and Nelson took another 4-2 after Nicholls had pulled out with machine problems.
In an incident packed heat seven the first attempt to run saw Fisher and Larsen, not for the first time this season, appearing to get in each other’s way. A 3-3 appeared to be on the cards after Justin Sedgman fell. Unfortunately Fisher hit a troublesome patch and fell on the second lap. The race was stopped with Fisher excluded. Sedgman had remounted so was allowed in the rerun. Work on the patchy turn two was undertaken before the restart. Klint was the winner from Larsen with Sedgman taking third.
Pawlicki won his third race of the night in heat eight with McGowan taking third. This left the home side leading by 26-22 at the halfway stage.
Kennett won heat nine before Swindon took a 4-2 in the next after Bees had made the start. Nicholls overhauled both Bees while a sluggish Fisher went from second to last.
McGowan was brought in as a replacement for Kurtz in heat eleven and made the start alongside Kennett. Bees then rode to a 5-1 probably made easier after Klindt pulled out with machine problems.
At this point there was just two points in it but Gathercole and Janowski relieved the pressure with a 5-1 over Fisher in heat twelve.
More problems for Nicholls in heat thirteen probably helped Bees cause slightly. After breaking the tapes he was forced to start fifteen metres back. Klindt made the start but Kennett took the lead at the end of the first lap. Nicholls passed Kurtz but a share of the points put Bees still in with a slight chance of victory.
But as has happened a few times recently Bees faded in the final races. Larsen took Stead wide in heat fourteen but could not hold the lead while at the back McGowan fell when challenging Sedgman for third place.
The match had gone Swindon’s way but there was still the extra point to go for and with Pawlicki and Kennett both unbeaten there looked a chance. Unfortunately Pawlicki was stranded at the start with a broken clutch cable and Kennett could not hold off Nicholls.
This was a better than expected performance from a virtual four-man team but a few more points from a disappointing Fisher could well have swung the match Bees way.
Bees’ scorers: Kennett 14, Pawlicki 12, Larsen 7, McGowan 5, Fisher, Nelson 1.
Bees 42, Swindon 48
Bees were still without Sayfutdinov, but his absence was now due to participation in the Danish GP so a guest was allowed. Rory Schlein stepped into the number one spot. Unfortunately Larsen received a late call-up as reserve for the same event to rider-replacement came into operation. Richard Sweetman returned as reserve and was partnered by Jerran Hart.
Bees made a reasonable start with Schlein and Sweetman making the start. The latter however went from second to fourth on the second turn so Bees had to be content with a shared opening heat.
Sweetman turned a better ride in heat two but was no match for fellow countryman Garthercole. With Richard Lawson taking third Bees already trailed.
Fisher shook off the previous night’s disappointment with a good win in heat three. Pawlicki played his part in shielding him and the resulting maximum put Bees two ahead.
Kennett rode a hard first turn to take Klindt wide in heat four but with Sweetman again struggling at the back, no advantage was gained.
Nicholls won heat five before Bees hit problems in heat six. Schlein was following Klindt when his clutch disintegrated entering turn two and he took a nasty tumble. The race was awarded with the visitors taking a 5-1.
Stead made the start from Kennett in heat seven. Hart wound everything on and rounded both Janowski and Kennett to take second spot. Bees looked set for a 3-3 before Hart overcooked it and fell at the end of lap three.
Gathercole was proving the Robin’s trump card and despite a good effort by Fisher won heat eight.
At this point the visitors led by six points before Fisher and Pawlicki put Bees back in the hunt in heat nine. Klindt made the start but Fisher took the lead coming out of turn two. Pawlicki stalked his man and was rewarded with second place on turn three of the last lap.
Schlein spit the Ipswich pair coming out of turn two in heat ten for a share of the points before Nicholls beat Kennett in the best race of the night in heat eleven. With Jesper B. Monberg taking third Bees were up against it.
Gathercole was in trouble in heat twelve. In a tight first turn he picked up some extra grip and fell bringing down partner Janowski in a nasty looking incident. Both riders got up unscathed but Gathercole was excluded. In the rerun Bees led from the start but Janowski, unimpressive up to this point went round both Bees for a surprise win that undoubtedly put the Robins on course for victory.
The visiting pair of Nicholls and Klindt made the start to heat thirteen. Schlein gave chase and took second spot before Nicholls pulled up. Kennett took third to give Bees an outside chance.
Pawlicki won heat fourteen but with Hart coming in last, Bees needed a 5-1 to snatch a draw.
It was not to be as the visitors on the favourable gates leapt into the lead. Although Schlein eventually made second, Pawlicki could not pass Nicholls and the Robins had broken Bees 100% home record with a 48-42 win.
It was the reserve spot that made the difference with visitors outscoring Bees by paid fourteen to paid five. The form of Sweetman is causing some concern at the moment and with Auty currently out of action an improvement is desparately needed.
Bees’ scorers: Fisher 11(1), Schlein 10, Pawlicki 9(2), Kennett 8, Hart 2 (1), Sweetman 2.
Emil Sayfutdinov failed to reach the semi-final stage of Saturday’s GP in Denmark. Bee’s new number one finished with seven points along with four others. The two remaining places at that stage were decided on race wins of which Emil had none. Chris Harris and Nicki Pedersen were the ones to proceed. Both riders came last in their respective races so no more points were added to their overall total. Despite this Sayfutdinov still lies in eighth place in the table, eight points above his nearest rival, Kenneth Bjerre. The meeting was won by reigning champion Tomasz Gollob from Jason Crump and Chris Holder.
Barring last minute mishaps, Emil Sayfutdinov will make his eagerly awaited home debut for Bees on Friday in their home match against King’s Lynn. It is not sure who the rest of his team mates will be as the GP Qualifying rounds take place over the weekend. Both teams could have riders missing and no team line ups were available at the time of writing. The match starts at the usual time of 8pm.
Bees are back in action again on Monday when they meet Eastbourne. There should be a much more settled team for this match which is on Sky TV. And will start at the earlier time of 7.30pm.