THE Buildbase Bees made the perfect start to their Elite League season – and captain Edward Kennett was the most perfect of all with a hugely impressive five-ride full maximum.
Kennett swept through the card with a series of fast starts, and even when he didn’t quite hit the first bend in front, he was invariably clear by the time he went up the back straight.
With further encouragement all the way down the Bees’ riding order, this was as good a start to league competition as could have been hoped for, especially as visitors Birmingham arrived at Brandon with an extensive amount of track knowledge.
However, the expected big score of Krzysztof Kasprzak failed to materialise as the Pole was unable to win a race, although Ben Barker got things together in the second half of the meeting to assist Daniel King in providing the Brummies’ resistance.
Bees were off to a good start with Andersen moving Kasprzak aside on the first bend of Heat 1 to head up a 4-2 with Richard Sweetman in third place, and that result was repeated in the reserves’ race thanks to the kind of ride which made Przemyslaw Pawlicki such a hero last season. The Pole was outgated by fellow 2010 squad member Aaron Summers, but after two laps of chasing Pawlicki switched back to the inside up the back straight and took the Aussie into bend three, with Nick Morris’s third place putting Bees 8-4 up.
Brummies, though, hit back in a competitive Heat 3 with Kenni Larsen gating but being passed around the outside by King into the third bend, and at the same time Ryan Fisher was grinding to a halt enabling Barker to confirm third place and narrow the gap to two points.
However, Bees took full advantage of a strong pairing in Heat 4 as Kennett recorded the fastest time of the season and was joined by Pawlicki, who gave Daniel Nermark no chance of making an impression on the home duo.
Heat 5 produced a competitive first bend with Ales Dryml making the best start and forcing everyone wide, which left Larsen somewhat out of contention, but a fired-up Fisher kept it wound on into the third bend and took the lead from the Czech to protect a shared heat.
Birmingham suffered a setback in Heat 6 which initially threw up more action on turn one, this time with Andersen moving Nermark aside to create space for Sweetman to join him on the inside. Bees appeared set for a 5-1 from there, and that was confirmed on lap three when Nermark made an error going into the first bend and ended up clipping the back wheel of Sweetman and going down heavily.
The Swede was able to walk off the track after treatment, but he was soon withdrawn from the meeting and on his way to hospital for a check-up after suffering suspected concussion.
Following King’s impressive first ride, Brummies’ boss Graham Drury sent him out for double-points in Heat 7, but he had no answer to a perfect start by Kennett who went ahead to win the race by a distance, King and Barker running second and third for a 5-3 to the visitors.
But Bees then moved into full control, first with a Pawlicki/Sweetman 5-1 over Dryml and Summers in Heat 8 – although the Brummies may have been unfortunate as they had both made the gate when an unsatisfactory start was called - and another maximum followed in the next race from Larsen and Fisher, the American again displaying plenty of commitment as he got the better of Theo Pijper on the first lap.
The Brummies, however, did mount a response in Heat 10 as Andersen and Sweeetman were conclusively outgated by King and Barker, and with Andersen finding no way through, the gap was down to twelve points – the perfect margin for a second tactical ride.
It gave the Brummies a glimmer of hope for salvaging a point from the meeting, but they really required a 7-2 from Heat 11 and it didn’t happen for them as Kennett again dominated the early stages, making the first bend his own property from the inside gate to get the better of Kasprzak – and off the outside gates, there was a similar outcome with Morris gaining the scalp of another Elite League rider with plenty more experience, Dryml on this occasion.
Barker was to the fore again in Heat 12 with a terrific ride, initially facing a 5-1 against Fisher and Pawlicki. Barker, however, managed to split the pairing on lap two before they could go fully clear, and he then kept on chasing to move inside Fisher going up the back straight on the third lap. Fisher went down going into the bend but Barker appeared to be a bike length clear at the time, and there was no surprise when the referee Ronnie Allan awarded the race as a 4-2 to the Brummies, which also made it Pawlicki’s first defeat of the night.
With the gap at ten points, Birmingham realistically needed Kasprzak to win Heat 13, King to win Heat 14 and the same combination to take a 5-1 in the finale to grab a point – but those chances receded drastically in Heat 13 as Kennett showed he could do it from the outside as well against Kasprzak, and a 4-2 to the Bees was a result even if Andersen had a tough battle in getting the better of Summers for third place, the two rides passing and re-passing on a couple of occasions.
The points were finally safe after an excellent Heat 14 for the Bees with Morris, frustrated by his gating to that stage, nailed his start perfectly and was already looking across for team-mate Larsen going into the first bend. The Dane was there too, and the previously impressive King couldn’t find any way through.
All that was left was for Kennett to give his night the final victory it deserved, and he didn’t disappoint as he wrapped up his first Bees full maximum in Heat 15, ahead of plenty of action behind with King taking second place and Andersen cutting inside Kasprzak for third coming off the fourth bend.
A tough trip to the Showground awaits on Good Friday, followed by the Brandon return against Peterborough in the evening, but Bees will be pleased with their opening night’s work, especially given their record over the years of often losing their first home Elite League fixture. There was never too much suggestion of that on this occasion, and it was overall a very positive performance.
BUILDBASE BEES 56 Hans Andersen 3 3 1 1 1 = 9 Richard Sweetmsn 1 2* 2* 0 = 5+2 Ryan Fisher R 3 2* X = 5+1 Kenni Larsen 2 0 3 3 = 8 Edward Kennett 3 3 3 3 3 = 15 Nick Morris 1 0 1 2* = 4+1 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3 2* 3 2 = 10+1
BIRMINGHAM 38 Krzysztof Kasprzak 2 1* 4^ 2 0 = 9+1 Ales Dryml 0 2 0 0 = 2 Ben Barker 1 1* 2* 3 = 7+2 Daniel King 3 4^ 3 1 2 = 13 Daniel Nermark 1 X M = 1 Theo Pijper 0 1 1 1 = 3 Aaron Summers 2 0 1 0 0 0 = 3