COVENTRY ended their Midland League programme in exactly the way in which they had ended the 2011 season – with an emphatic win at Wolverhampton.
But whilst the Buildbase Bees’ 52-38 victory at Monmore Green last October was achieved with a heavily revised team, this latest success was with the squad which will go into Elite League action later in the week, with the return of skipper Chris Harris set to add further strength.
Given the respective levels of form across the two teams’ top fives, Bees were clearly able to cover for the absence of Harris far better than Wolves were for Freddie Lindgren, but even so a score of 55 points on any away track, coming just days after a 54-point total on another, has to go down as a highly satisfying outcome.
And it must be many years, quite possibly going back to the Hancock/Hamill days, that a Coventry side has been so consistently superior from the starts at Monmore, with Wolves – the outstanding Tai Woffinden aside – frequently left to pick up scraps and work overtime simply to finish with 2-4 outcomes rather than 1-5s.
That was certainly the case early on, as in each of the first three races it was the Bees duo who got into turn one ahead, and the outcome of that was a six-point advantage. Rider-replacement Edward Kennett dominated Heat 1 and was initially joined by Aaron Summers, before Ty Proctor found a way inside his fellow Aussie at the start of lap three; and then in Heat 2 it was Adam Roynon and Henning Bager who shot away, with a lively Thomas Jorgensen managing to get around Bager at the end of the first lap.
Kennett and Kenni Larsen stormed from the gate in Heat 3 but got rather too close on turn two with Kennett then going to the back, but he quickly reeled in and re-passed Proctor although he was unable to get back on terms with Nicolai Klindt.
A Wolves race win was finally provided by Woffinden in Heat 4, but he had to work for it in a crowded first two turns, making his way between Bager and Scott Nicholls as they went up the back straight, with the points shared ahead of Jorgensen.
Wolves’ only genuine heat advantage of the night came in Heat 5 although it seemed remarkable that the race wasn’t brought to a halt with Klindt, off the inside, looking to have benefitted from a clear jump-start. As it was, his team-mate Proctor made the best of the situation and moved into the lead ahead of Larsen, and with Summers compromised at the start Klindt had third place despite not having his usual speed.
And when the Dane returned in the next race for rider-replacement, he was out-trapped by Nicholls and Roynon who were holding a super 5-1 before Klindt’s machine expired at the end of lap three and also impeded his team-mate Pontus Aspgren leaving the Bees unchallenged.
That put the visitors into a comfortable 22-14 lead but it got even better in Heat 7 when Kennett’s chase of Woffinden ended with the home skipper making an error on the last bend and bailing out into the fence, Kennett and Larsen doing well to avoid him as they went through for another 5-1 in a reversal to the incident on Friday when Larsen fell when ahead in Heat 12.
With Heat 8 not providing any real tactical opportunities for Wolves, Bees took their own chance to extend the advantage thanks to a 4-2 as Summers controlled the race over Jorgensen with Bager holding Aspgren at bay for third place.
The first tactical ride came into play in Heat 9, but as the race settled down with Nicholls in a clear lead it was the double-points Klindt who found himself behind his team-mate for much of the action before he was waved through by Proctor on the last lap. The following race did see a little more success for Wolves, as Woffinden did manage to bank maximum points, but a good scrap for the minor places saw Kennett eventually get the better of Aspgren and limit the home side to a 6-3.
Bees’ lead had been trimmed to nine points, but they still looked to have more than enough to close out the meeting, and in fact they did far more than that, first with a vintage Nicholls ride in Heat 11. Woffinden appeared have the run on the inside going into turn three but Nicholls found plenty of power on the outside and swept back into the lead at the end of the lap, with Summers third for a 4-2.
And any remaining doubt was ended in Heat 12 with Larsen and Roynon heading up another 5-1 over Klindt, who cut a frustrated figure as he drove hard inside team-mate Jorgensen in the closing stages of the race.
At 46-31 there was clearly a big away win on the agenda, and as things transpired the last three races would be shared. Woffinden gained some revenge over Nicholls by getting clear early in Heat 13, and Kennett responded for the Bees in the next as Bager was shut-out by Jorgensen.
Heat 15 was a fine battle with Woffinden leading under massive pressure from Nicholls and Kennett, who switched lines mid-race and the very fast Nicholls made his move on the inside on the last bend and clearly believed he had taken the verdict on the line. The referee disagreed and gave the win to Woffinden, but a 55-40 outcome was still another big statement of intent from Coventry with, once again, strength all the way down the line-up.
And now for the serious business...
WOLVERHAMPTON 40 Freddie Lindgren Rider Replacement Pontus Aspgren 0 1 0 0 0 = 1 Nicolai Klindt 2 1 R 4^ 1 = 8 Ty Proctor 2 0 3 1* 2 0 = 8+1 Tai Woffinden 3 F 6^ 2 3 3 = 17 Lukasz Sowka 0 1 0 = 1 Thomas Jorgensen 2 0 2 R 1* = 5+1