THE Buildbase Bees’ first trip to the ‘new’ Perry Barr saw their hopes of taking at least a point from the meeting dashed by a strong conclusion by the Brummies.
Bees had recovered well from the shock of conceding two early 5-1s to a home side inspired by Ben Barker and Dennis Andersson, but there was no comeback from a 14-4 burst from Birmingham across Heats 12-14 which put the match out of the visitors’ reach.
Just as at Poole on Monday, Bees were missing two of their regular top five but it was Birmingham who covered well for their own missing riders, with Andersson at reserve not surprisingly a trump card.
Skipper Edward Kennett was Coventry’s best rider although he was disappointed to fall away with two lasts in the closing stages, and it was also encouraging to see Kenni Larsen notch his highest score so far for the club, including two good race wins.
Larsen it was who dominated the first race of the night, as he had done during his Premier League visits to Perry Barr with Newcastle, and Bees looked briefly like they could take maximum points from that first race – but in a tight first lap with all four riders involved, Brummies guest Rory Schlein just managed to get the better of Chris Harris to split the Coventry rides, Larsen holding on for the win despite a late challenge by Schlein.
Bees’ problems began in Heat 2 with Andersson making a flying start and being joined up-front by Claus Vissing as a misfiring Richard Sweetman, back on his old home track, pulled out of the race before the conclusion with the Brummies immediately turning around their early two-point deficit.
A further 5-1 followed in Heat 3 with Andersson taking the rider replacement outing and gating well with Barker. Bees riders Larsen and Ryan Fisher got rather too close to each other going into the pits bend as they went into the second lap, resulting in Larsen going down, and Fisher’s late chase of Andersson came to nothing.
Sweetman had his mechanical issues sorted for Heat 4 but both he and Edward Kennett were out-gated by Daniel Nermark, whose current form is significantly improved on early-season, and the Brummies’ Swede kept the home side’s race winning run going in a shared heat.
Birmingham extended their lead from four to six points with an excellent win for Barker in Heat 5, moving clear whilst Harris and Schlein contested second place – this time that particular battle was in Harris’s favour, but despite gaining ground on Barker in the closing stages he didn’t have time to make a move and that meant Barker took a notable victory, with the Brummies seemingly taking control of the meeting.
Bees, though, began to get a foothold in proceedings with Kennett taking a shared Heat 6 ahead of Schlein, and they managed to halve the deficit during a hectic Heat 7, which started with Bees on a 4-2 until second-placed Vissing lifted across Larsen’s path forcing the Coventry man to check up and allowing Nermark into third. But Vissing then fell going into turn one, Larsen laying down in avoidance, and in the re-run Fisher took Nermark wide on the first bend allowing Larsen to come through on the inside, and the visitors then raced clear for a 5-1.
Two more points came back Bees’ way in Heat 8 thanks to a committed first lap of racing by Kennett, who was taken wide by Ales Dryml on the fourth bend, but the Czech very fairly allowed space for Kennett to race, and the Bees man made it around the outside into lap two. With Sweetman holding third ahead of Andersson, who missed out for the first time, Bees appeared to have solved their early problems and were now right in the meeting.
Heat 9 was one of the best of the night, with Kennett gating on Barker but making a slight mistake off turn four and allowing Barker a route back through on he inside. Kennett chased back, however, and on the final turn it was his turn to find the drive on the inside with Barker just clipping the fence as he tried to stay in contention, and that mistake gave Kennett the momentum to reach the finishing line half a bike in front, with Nick Morris having just failed in his attempts to take third place from Nermark.
Schlein rode a superb first lap in Heat 10, as having been outgated from the outside he quickly switched back and navigated his way to the front, and the main action thereafter centred around Dryml’s attempts to pass a team-riding Larsen and Fisher, who did manage to come home in second and third places.
Harris was squeezed out at the start of Heat 11 which enabled Nermark to race clear, and despite gaining significant ground over the last couple of laps Harris couldn’t catch the Swede in what became the third consecutive shared race with Sweetman again third ahead of Andersson.
At that stage, Bees were looking good to keep the pressure on, but it all went wrong in the next three races, first with Barker and Andersson gating in Heat 12 and resisting every attempt of Fisher to find a way through on the first couple of laps before the American slowed.
Then the home side gained a 4-2 in an epic Heat 13 which saw Kennett’s winning run come to an end as the Bees captain finished at the back – but further forward, Harris produced a spectacular lap of speedway to pass first Nermark and then Schlein around the outside to take the lead into lap three. Schlein, though, had plenty of speed himself and it was he who tried the outside line on the final bend with spectacular results as he surged past a surprised Harris and gained what would no doubt have been a satisfying victory.
The Coventry fans probably feared at that stage that the game could well be up, and so it proved in Heat 14 with the Barker/Andersson combination again doing the damage, this time at the expense of Larsen and Sweetman to secure all three points from the meeting for the Brummies.
Harris did gain his first win of the match in Heat 15, despite the efforts of the impressive Barker to find a way through, but that was a consolation victory at best as the Brummies, with Barker and Schlein in second and third places over Kennett, celebrated moving into the top four of the Elite League.
BIRMINGHAM 51 Rory Schlein 2 1 2 3 3 1* = 12+1 Ales Dryml 0 1* 2 0 = 3+1 Ben Barker 3 3 2 3 2* 2 = 15+1 Daniel King Rider Replacement Daniel Nermark 3 1 1* 3 1 = 9+1 Claus Vissing 2* 0 X = 2+1 Dennis Andersson 3 2* 0 0 2* 3 = 10+2
BUILDBASE BEES 39 Chris Harris 1 2 2 2 3 = 10 Przemyslaw Pawlicki – Rider Replacement Ryan Fisher 1 0 2* 1* 0 = 4+2 Kenni Larsen 3 R 3 2 1 = 9 Edward Kenentt 1* 3 3 3 0 0 = 10+1 Nick Morris 1 0 0 1 = 2 Richard Sweetman R 2 1 1* 0 = 4+1