A NERVOUS finale, but the Buildbase Bees did just enough to take all three points from this local derby despite the brilliance of Wolves’ No.1 Fredrik Lindgren.
The Monmore men probably always expected to be on a damage-limitation mission at Brandon, going into the meeting without both Tai Woffinden (collarbone) and Peter Karlsson (back) but their chances of even doing that appeared to have vanished when guest Mads Korneliussen crashed out in Heat 9.
Bees, at that stage, held a comfortable lead and with Lindgren’s tactical ride having been completed as well, it was hard to see any way in which Wolves would reduce the gap to less than seven points – but the bad luck suddenly swung completely, and Bees suffered a host of problems in the second half of the meeting which almost conspired to cost them an Elite League point.
And in the final analysis, it was probably Josh Auty’s fourth-to-second dash in Heat 7 which was the pivotal ride of the night, as it made sure that Wolves would go into the tactical ride race twelve points down rather than ten.
Lindgren, who was always likely to score heavily, opened the meeting with a win in Heat 1 by holding off the challenge of Bees guest Chris Harris, and gradually the action switched to the battle at the back, with Kenni Larsen going just too wide off turn four at the end of the third lap, and being passed for third place by Ty Proctor.
But the reserves’ race was clearly one in which the Bees would have looked to take major points, and they did just that with Richard Sweetman and Josh Auty taking a convincing 5-1 over Ricky Wells and Brandon debutant Tyson Burmeister.
Heat 3 produced a congested second bend with Ryan Fisher taking the advantage but Przemyslaw Pawlicki lifted as he was trying to clear Ludvig Lindgren, and he somehow not only retained control but also made it around the outside of the Swede to link up with his team-mate for a second Bees maximum in succession.
A fast-gating Korneliussen arrested Wolves’ slide in Heat 4 with a well-ridden race over Edward Kennett, whilst Wells held Sweetman at bay for third place enabling the visitors to cut the gap to four points.
A terrific Heat 5 followed, with Freddie Lindgren appearing to make a good start but being taken wide on turn two by Fisher, which also allowed Pawlicki to move through and join his partner. Lindgren when chasing at Brandon is always a threat, however, and despite an error on the second lap when he appeared to lose all momentum, he moved in again midway through the race, and a frantic last lap followed with the Swede switching inside Fisher on the back straight, only to be clamped by Pawlicki which almost gave Fisher the chance to respond. As it was, Pawlicki won in a close finish with Lindgren just splitting the duo and preventing Coventy’s third 5-1 of the night.
Bees took another 4-2 in Heat 6, re-started after Larsen had come down on the second bend, and in the re-run Harris got the better of Korneliussen early on with Larsen keeping Burmeister at the back.
The third maximum advantage wasn’t long in coming though, despite a somewhat ragged start to Heat 7 which left Auty trailing at the back. Kennett quickly took the advantage whilst Auty, more known for his outside passes, strongly moved Proctor aside off the fourth bend and then repeated the move on Ludvig Lindgren next time around for a 5-1 which put Bees twelve points to the good.
Inevitably that meant a Freddie Lindgren tactical ride in Heat 8 but Bees appeared to have suffered no significant damage there as although the visitors’ top man won the race in straightforward fashion, the home side were comfortably second and third with Sweetman and Larsen.
Wolves’ prospects took a significant nosedive in an awkward tangle at the start of Heat 9, with Fisher and Korneliussen tangling up from the inside and then sweeping up Burmeister as they went down. Korneliussen bore the brunt of the impact, and although the indications were that he had suffered no serious injuries, some lacerations to his arm and leg were enough to put him out of the rest of the meeting.
In theory, Bees should then have taken maximum advantage and they looked set to do just that in the re-run as Pawlicki and Fisher moved clear of the Wolves reserves – but Fisher suddenly slowed at the start of lap four, and by the time the riders exited turn two the American had been passed by fellow countrymen Burmeister and Wells, and a 5-1 became a 3-3.
Similar problems followed in Heat 10, with the mechanically-troubled Larsen already forced on to Kennett’s bike, and again it all seemed to be going well with Harris making a trademark outside pass on Proctor to take the lead off turn four, and Larsen holding a comfortable third over Ludvig Lindgren. But again on lap four, the gremlins struck, Larsen went to the back and Wolves had escaped with another 3-3.
There was more first bend action in Heat 11 with Auty given nowhere to go after reaching the turn at the same time as Wells, and with his bike unfit for the re-run, he borrowed a machine from Sweetman, which managed to generate plenty of pace such that he challenged Freddie Lindgren for much of the race – whilst in third place it was Kennett who struggled for speed and was fending off Wells for the final lap.
The Wolves reserves hadn’t scored many points by beating an opponent, but what they were capable of doing was making good starts and mixing things up on the first bend, and there was a shock for the Bees in Heat 12 when Burmeister and Wells both got to the bend in front, leading to a frantic first lap with the Bees making their way into second and third on turn four – and a big Pawlicki chase followed as he gained ground on Ludvig Lindgren. On lap four, though, disaster stuck, as the wide-riding Pole clipped the final air-fence panel off turn two, although his momentum was such that he actually crashed some way further down the back straight. The good fortune was that both Sweetman and Burmeister thankfully managed to avoid him, but a frustrated Pawlicki had lost his chance of a maximum and, against all the odds, the Coventry lead was down to seven points.
Clashes between Harris and Freddie Lindgren around Brandon are generally amongst the most spectacular of any season, and Heat 13 was no exception with a truly stunning race as the two passed and re-passed, Harris making a smart inside switch at the start of lap three but Lindgren reading it perfectly and turning back himself to re-take the lead. Kennett’s third place over Wells kept the gap at seven points, and Bees were hoping to finally put things to bed in Heat 14.
But it wasn’t to be with Wolves again making good starts and Proctor managing to build an early lead – and although Auty did catch him and threaten to pass, the Australian held on for another shared heat in the knowledge that if he and Freddie Lindgren could take a 4-2 in Heat 15, Wolves would salvage a totally unlikely point.
Bees had choice of gates and picked one and three, and Harris and Pawlicki both got to the first bend ahead of Lindgren, which could easily have been game over – but not as far as the spectacular Swede was concerned, as he quickly moved into second place and then put a strong move on Harris, with the two virtually scraping the air-fence on the fourth bend but fortunately having the control to remain aboard their machines.
Lindgren held on for a brilliant win, but of more importance as far as Coventry were concerned was that Pawlicki came home third ahead of Proctor to prevent the ultimate giveaway of a point – they did have all three in the bag, still 100 per cent at home, and that was always the goal at the beginning of the night.