SPEEDWAY: By Alan Goodman

Alan Goodman
Alan Goodman

News from Coventry Bees and Storm

Two defeats over the weekend virtually put paid to Storm’s Championship hopes and now sees them needing a string of good results to even make a play-off place.

In a match littered with falls they came off second best against League leaders Birmingham and also lost valuable reserve Conor Dwyer for some time.

Two days later they were easy meat for National League newcomers Eastbourne and went down by twenty points.

Coventry Storm 42

Birmingham 47

With the visitors unbeaten in the National League this was a choice fixture for Storm to belatedly open their home league programme with.

Both teams operated rider replacement, Bees for the retired Luke Crang and the visitors for the injured Josh Bates.

It was Storm who made the best start and after the opening heat was shared a 4-2 and 5-1 put them six points ahead after three races.

Problems for Storm came in heat four, with the consequences probably costing the match. Storm were holding second and third spots before Darryl Ritchings came down on the Rugby turn with Conor Dwyer and Adam Kirby laying down to avoid him. Dwyer, who up until then had looked the best reserve on show, was out of the meeting with rib injuries. Jamie Halder replaced him in the rerun but could only follow the two visiting riders home.

Birmingham’s Adam Ellis was handicapped fifteen metres for a tapes offence in heat five but a good ride saw him pass both home riders by the end of lap three.

Heat six was shared before another three man pile up saw Kirby excluded. Storm took a 4-2 from the gate to keep a four point lead.

It was falls that was deciding this match and in heat eight Birmingham’s Alex Wilson reared at the start leaving Storm to take another 4-2 and lead27-21 at the halfway stage.

After a shared heat nine Storm hit more problems. Birmingham led from the start before Dan Greenwood fell on the first turn. In the rerun Rob Shuttleworth led before falling himself and gifting the visitors a 5-0.

A Birmingham 4-2 then put them one point ahead and with the heats to come Storm knew they had a fight on their hands.

Heats eleven and twelve were shared before the impressive Birmingham pair of Ellis and Zach Wajtknecht taking maximum points to win by 47-42 and make it eleven wins out of eleven.

Just to compound Storm’s misery Wajtknecht deprived Greenwood of his Bronze match race title after the match.

There is no doubt that the loss of Conor Dwyer was a big reason for the loss. He had won his one completed ride while the other reserve, Jamie Halder, was forced to take seven rides which brought him just five points.

Storm scorers; Martin Knuckey 10(2), Dan Greenwood 9(1), Darryl Ritchings 9, Rob Shuttleworth 6(3), Jamie Halder 5(1), Conor Dwyer 3.

Eastbourne 56

Storm 36

It was a depleted team that travelled south for this vital fixture. Already operating rider replacement for Luke Crang, they were without both reserves and had to bring in guests Matt Saul and Sean Phillips.

It was a dismal start with the eagles rattling up two 5-1’s in the opening heats leaving Storm an early eight point deficit to make up.

Heat three was shared before Ritchings managed a second place in heat four. This put Storm ten points behind and Greenwood was quickly given a tactical ride. He could only manage second place behind Ben Hopwood but with home reserve Georgie Wood taking a tumble which put him out of the rest of the meeting, a 5-3 heat win brought Storm back in.

The teams then reversed 4-2’s before Eastbourne hit back with three more of the same.

Storm was struggling to provide race winners but in heat ten Greenwood joined Knuckey in being the only two Storm riders to receive the chequered flag.

This was storms last throw and four more successive home 4-2’s settled a contest which was an unhappy one for Laurence Rogers’ men.

Storm scorers: Greenwood 13, Knuckey 11, Ritchings 7(1), Shuttleworth 4(1), Saul 1, Phillips 0.

Latvian Grand Prix

It was another disappointing night for Chris Harris in Daugavpils on Saturday night when he could manage just four points in another GP that failed to reach a conclusion.

In the first part of the meeting gating played a big part and in his first two races which were restarted due to riders overkeen to make the start he managed third in a tough heat four before losing out on third to Peter Kildemand in heat six. In heat eleven he was never in the hunt.

There was a big improvement in heat thirteen when he used turn two to good effect to lead the race. He held off Jason Doyle until the final turn when a desperate dive by Doyle sent Harris flying. Doyle was excluded with Harris awarded first place.

His final race lasted until the first turn when his machine emitted a blaze of sparks and finished his night.

The meeting was another nightmare for new race director Phil Morris. Morris, who has endured a torrid time since his appointment was forced to call a halt to proceedings after heavy rain prevented the semi-finals and finals taking place.

Maciej Janowski was declared the winner with Nicki Pedersen second and Troy Batchelor third.

Tai Woffinden leads the rankings with 63 points, Pedersen is second with 54 and Greg Hancock third with 49. Harris lies thirteenth with 27.

Preview

With another GP taking place on Saturday, this time in Sweden there will be no Bees fixture again on Friday. They do return to action on Monday when they pay a visit to Lakeside. Lakeside include two familiar names to Bees fans in Andreas Jonsson and Edward Kennett. They also include Davey Watt and Richard Lawson so Bees will have to be at their best if they are to come away with the points.

On Friday it is the Storm in action again, now making up their backlog of home fixtures. This time they are hoping to gain quick revenge over Eastbourne. The match starts at the usual time of 7.30 p.m.