THE Buildbase Bees made it three wins out of three from an important week of matches, and continue to close in on second place in the Elite League table.
Local rivals Wolverhampton got off to a poor start at Brandon and had to use a tactical ride as early as Heat 5 - and for the first half of the meeting, a big win for Coventry looked to be on the cards. Later on, the visitors began making some better starts and finished with a respectable scoreline, although they never really threatened to upset Bees' night.
Captain Scott Nicholls again showed that he is back in top form, and Rory Schlein collected his second double-figure score of the week despite not being at full strength due to illness. And in another team effort, there was an admirable performance from Olly Allen to put the events of a traumatic week to one side for a couple of hours and continue to score well for his club.
Allen, in fact, almost got into a 5-1 position with Nicholls in the first race only for Peter Karlsson to squeeze around the outside coming out of the second bend - but Bees' opening 4-2 was swiftly followed by a not unexpected 5-1 in Heat 2, Martin Smolinski and Billy Janniro having things very much their own way to underline Coventry's strength in depth.
Schlein, Steve Johnston and Billy Hamill all hit the first bend virtually together in Heat 3 and as Hamill was sandwiched, it allowed Magnus Karlsson a free run around the outside and almost to victory. Schlein, however, kept plugging away, and on the last lap he shot through on the inside in a very well-judged overtaking move.
Chris Harris started his night with an unusually fast start to head home Fredrik Lindgren in Heat 4, smashing half a second off the quickest time of the season in the process, and Smolinski's third place meant Wolves were already nominating Peter Karlsson for double points in the next race.
It was a move which nearly produced a maximum 8-1 as David Howe gated with Karlsson, but whilst the Wolves captain went clear for his six points, Howe was pressurised by Schlein and was finally somewhat surprised when Schlein switched to the outside on the last lap and rode round his opponent for second place.
Allen then made a fantastic start to get out with Nicholls in Heat 6, ahead of Lindgren, and there was some fine team riding between the pair for a 5-1 with Nicholls displaying great awareness of where Lindgren was at all times, and allowing Allen to ride his line. That race was backed up by another 5-1 in Heat 7, and this was a far easier affair for Harris and Janniro with the Wolves duo some way back.
Heat 8 was shared as Howe became Wolves' second winner of the meeting, but Bees went 15-points up in Heat 9 with Schlein making his first good start of the night, storming from the outside to out-trap Lindgren, with Steve Johnston - still feeling the effects of his crash at Reading - in third.
Heat 10 caused referee Chris Durno to make a decision for the first and only time in the meeting as Hamill, in a scoring position for the first time, went down on the second bend under Allen's inside challenge as the Bees man tried to come through for second place. Allen was adjudged the rider at fault, and the race was awarded as a 3-3 with Nicholls the winner.
There was a good response from Wolves in the latter heats, with Peter Karlsson and Howe gating on a 5-1 in Heat 11 and Harris losing too much ground in the early stages, and Hamill used his experience to hold Smolinski at bay in Heat 12 - although he wasn't able to do anything about Schlein, who collected his third win of the night.
Harris pulled out of Heat 13 with mechanical failure after the second bend leaving Nicholls on his own, but the Bees skipper lost his unbeaten record despite doing everything he could to find a way past Karlsson. And it was then the younger Karlsson, Magnus, who took Heat 14 despite having Janniro and Johnston all over his rear wheel for much of the race. Janniro eventually went too wide trying to come past and lost third place to Lawson as things became very tight, and given the speed of the race a 15-metre tactical substitute ride may even have produced extra points.
However, Bees' win had been rather more comfortable than the nine-point gap suggested, and in Heat 15 Nicholls was determined to get the better of Karlsson despite the Wolves star holding his nerve to lead around the first two bends having come off gate 2. Nicholls, though, wound up plenty of speed and managed to cut back for an inside pass going into the third lap, and Schlein was unchallenged in third after Lindgren came to a stop.
So, it was the outcome the Buildbase Bees were looking for and they are now asking serious questions of Poole in the race for a home tie in the play-offs - the result also doing further damage to Wolves' chances of reaching the top four.
COVENTRY 52 WOLVERHAMPTON 41 Friday 3rd August 2007 - Sky Sports Elite League
Scott Nicholls 3 2* 3 2 3 = 13+1 Olly Allen 1 3 2 X = 6 Rory Schlein 3 2 3 3 1 = 12 Steve Johnston 1 0 1 2 = 4 Chris Harris 3 3 1 R =7 Billy Janniro 2* 2* 0 0 = 4+2 Martin Smolinski 3 1 1* 1 = 6+1
PARRYS INTERNATIONAL WOLVES Peter Karlsson 2 6 3 3 2 = 16 David Howe 0 1 3 2* = 6+1 Billy Hamill 0 0 2 2 = 4 Magnus Karlsson 2 1 1* 3 = 7+1 Fredrik Lindgren 2 1 2 1 R = 6 Chris Kerr 0 0 0 0 = 0 William Lawson 1 0 0 1 = 2