THE Buildbase Bees’ return to Wimborne Road, scene of their 2010 title glory, will not be a meeting which lingers too long in the memory.
In a near-enough mirror image of the corresponding Elite League match last season, the Pirates were in tip-top form and eased their way to a thoroughly convincing victory, whilst the Bees found themselves consistently outgated and all to often battling for the minor places.
There was no shortage of effort from the Coventry team, whose overall attitude to the match was one of the differences from that awful 29-63 defeat in 2010, but there was no question at the end of fourteen heats that the Poole team of 2011 were very much rubber-stamping their position as title favourites.
Whether they can carry that forward to the lifting of the crown itself is another matter, of course, with another five months of racing to come until they reach that stage, but the Pirates appear very much the team to beat at this stage.
Bees were limited to just two race winners in Dorset, both from skipper Edward Kennett, whilst the problems continued for the majority of their other riders although there was a battling effort from Josh Auty who fortunately emerged unscathed from the match-ending crash in Heat 14.
For the Pirates, Darcy Ward underlined his status as one of the world’s form riders since his return from a broken collarbone, and Dennis Andersson continued his points bonanza at reserve, taking extra riders after his colleague Christian Hefenbrock was unfortunately injured in a nasty Heat 2 crash.
The home side were off to a flying start from the unfavoured gates two and four with Chris Holder and Renat Gafurov reaching the first bend in front of Bees guest Scott Nicholls, whose team-mate Kenni Larsen slipped off at the start of the second lap when holding third place. Hefenbrock’s accident occurred on the first bend of the next race as he contested with Richard Sweetman, who just had the advantage on the outside. The two riders hooked up, and although Sweetman’s dismount was fairly low-speed, Hefenbrock had a more violent trip into the air-fence and appeared to twist awkwardly as he bounced back. Not surprisingly, the medical staff took their time with the possibility of a neck injury, and the German rider was taken away for hospital x-rays.
The re-run was dominated by Andersson with Auty and Sweetman unable to land a challenging blow, and a difficult start to the meeting for the Bees was magnified in Heat 3 when Jason Doyle hit the front but Ryan Fisher challenged hard on the inside going into the third bend. The American got level but then picked up some unwanted drive which straightened him and took him into the path of the unlucky Doyle with both riders going down. Fisher was correctly disqualified although it hadn’t been a reckless move, and fortunately Doyle was uninjured and able to take his place in the re-run. The Australian made the start and was quickly joined at the front by Ward, who made his way past Larsen going into the back straight, and Poole already had an eight-point lead to defend.
Bees then began to get themselves into the meeting and at least limit the damage, first with a good ride by Kennett in Heat 4 to squeeze around Andersson on the back straight whilst Sweetman battled with Davey Watt, the two exchanging places on a couple of occasions before the more experienced Watt established himself in third place.
Heat 5 was also shared with Ward taking the win by a distance as Nicholls and Larsen combined to keep Doyle at the back, and there was a second impressive win from Kennett in the next race, this time racing clear of Holder and Gafurov who did come under some pressure from Auty with the Bees’ reserve unable to find a way through.
At 14-22 down, the visitors were still in contention at least for a point, but the meeting went totally away from them in the next four races, all of which produced Poole 5-1s. The first came in Heat 7 with Sweetman going down on turn two and Fisher, whose machine may have been damaged by his earlier incident with Doyle, having to battle on almost every turn to remain upright and performing some kind of miracle not to come down on the second bend when he clipped the fence and then lifted. Watt and Andersson, meanwhile, were well clear for the first of the run of 5-1s, and Andersson was involved again in the next race with Gafurov, this time the Swede blocking off every attempt of Auty including a quick switch of line on the run to the finish to prevent Auty from making it around the outside.
There were more problems in Heat 9, with Kennett taking a tactical ride and initially holding second place to Doyle with Auty in attendance – but with Ward charging hard on the inside off turn four Kennett lost all momentum and Ward followed that pass by quickly moving ahead of Auty and leaving the tactical ride taking no points with Poole going 37-17 up.
It got no better for Coventry in Heat 10 with the strong Holder/Gafurov combination taking a convincing maximum over Kennett and Fisher, so there was general relief in the next race when a Poole rider was left at the back. That was Andersson, taking his fifth ride of the night, although he was kept interested by the fact that the Coventry riders were ideally in the wrong order given that Nicholls was on a tactical ride but Larsen appeared faster. The Dane, running second to Watt, had to lift off completely off the final bend and just managed to see his partner through to make it a 5-3 rather than a 4-3, not that it was ever going to make a significant difference to the result.
Ward completed his fourth unbeaten ride with a straightforward win in Heat 12 with Auty and Fisher taking second and third over Andersson, and there was another shared heat in the next race as Holder just held off a thrusting Kennett and Nicholls managed to keep Watt at the back.
The meeting ended in unfortunate circumstances, especially as Heat 14 was probably the race of the night until the start of the last lap. The main action seemed to be a frantic battle for third place between Fisher and Doyle, with but up-front Auty was gradually reeling in Andersson, and he made his move when the Swede locked up slightly on turn two. Auty went for the inside but tangled with his opponent and then lifted, with both riders going heavily into the fence on the straight, after the air-fence. The machines also did significant damage, so having awarded the race to Andersson ahead of Fisher and Doyle, referee Dave Robinson had no real alternative other than to call a halt to the meeting as the fence could not be repaired in time for Heat 15 to take place within the curfew.
But by that stage the Pirates had well and truly delivered their message of intent, leaving the Buildbase Bees – who badly missed their injured duo Hans Andersen and Przemyslaw Pawlicki – desperately hoping that next time they visit Wimborne Road, it will be with something much closer to a full-stength team of their own.
POOLE 55 Chris Holder 3 1* 3 3 = 10+1 Renat Gafurov 2* 2 3 2* = 9+2 Darcy Ward 2* 3 2* 3 = 10+2 Jason Doyle 3 0 3 1 = 7 Davey Watt 1* 3 3 0 = 7+1 Dennis Andersson 3 2 2* 2* 0 0 3 = 12+2 Christian Hefenbrock X = 0
BUILDBASE BEES 31 Scott Nicholls 1 1* 4^ 1* = 7+2 Kenni Larsen F 1 2 0 1* = 4+1 Ryan Fisher X 1 0 1* 2 = 4+1 Przemyslaw Pawlicki Rider Replacement Edward Kennett 3 3 0^ 1 2 = 9 Josh Auty 2 0 1 1 2 X = 6 Richard Sweetman 1* 0 F = 1+1