THE Buildbase Bees completed their task of topping the Elite League table ahead of the play-offs with this dominant win over closest rivals Swindon - who will doubtless come back stronger in the next few weeks.
Bees always looked to have the more solid outfit on paper before the meeting, bearing in mind the fact that the Robins were without broken ankle victim Mads Korneliussen, and also Tomasz Chrzanowski missed out due to tonsilitis.
But take nothing away from another powerful Coventry performance, which saw them beat the Robins for the first time this season and make themselves uncatchable in first position - even with two matches in hand.
The visitors put in a great deal of effort, perhaps not reflected in the final score, but in the final analysis only the virtually impeccable Leigh Adams and the battling Charlie Gjedde caused consistent trouble to the in-form home stars.
Referee Graham Flint commenced a busy night of re-starts by recalling the riders for Heat 1, and away from the gate Scott Nicholls was sandwiched between Adams and Andrew Moore. Billy Janniro, from the inside, moved Moore aside on turn two and Nicholls also had the speed to clear the Swindon man and make sure of a shared heat.
Bees took the lead with a 5-1 in Heat 2, Moore again making a good start but being overtaken on either side by Janniro and Steve Johnston coming out of turn two, and Heat 3 then produced a fine race with Chris Harris overhauling Lee Richardson in the early stages and Martin Smolinski trying to follow him through but ending up trapped on the inside to allow Gjedde to get a run around him.
Bees doubled their advantage with maximum points in Heat 4 from Rory Schlein and Johnston over a slow-starting Sebastian Ulamek, Cory Gathercole spinning out on the first bend, and Adams was a convincing winner of Heat 5 as both Harris and Smolinski were delayed in the early stages by Moore who made another quick getaway.
Heat 6 was a belter, with Nicholls being out-trapped by Ulamek and then surprised by the speed of Gathercole around the outside as the young Australian hit the front. That gave Nicholls plenty to do, as he had to overtake Ulamek first, and this he did with a brave move around the outside going into the third bend of the third lap. The chase was on then for the win, and Nicholls took it on the run down to the line, rounding Gathercole who had ridden a fine race.
Janniro flew from gate 4 to take control of Heat 7 but Bees' hopes of a 5-1 were dented when Gjedde got around Schlein at the end of the first lap, and Richardson found a space on the inside where nobody else had managed as he came off turn four second time around. However, with Adams not due out again until Heat 11, Bees had several chances to take advantage and they added 4-2s in the next two races.
Schlein recovered immediately by winning Heat 8, Gjedde rounding Johnston as they went into the second lap, and then in Heat 9 it was a win for Harris over Ulamek with Gathercole crashing out on the last lap and causing the race to be stopped and awarded.
There was plenty of debate about Swindon's nomination of Richardson for a tactical ride (against Nicholls and Janniro) in Heat 10, and the chances of success for the move were hit when Richardson was on the receiving end of a tough first turn and fell heavily, sustaining a nasty burn. After treatment, he was out for the re-run but as Nicholls took the lead early on, a fired-up Janniro blasted around both Gjedde and Richardson on the third and fourth bends to render the tactical ride worthless - and that was the end of Richardson's involvement.
Heat 11 was another terrific race with Janniro again making a flying start to head none other than Adams for much of the way despite coming under tremendous pressure. However, Adams came up with a cunning switch-back going into the last lap and with Janniro fooled, the Bees man went too wide and hit the fence, Swindon being awarded a 4-2 as a result.
But with Richardson out of the equation, the Robins could muster little in Heat 12 as Harris and Johnston cantered to a 5-1, and when Nicholls cut back off turn two to inflict Adams' first defeat of the night in the next race, Schlein doing likewise to Ulamek after receiving a knock going into the first bend, match and aggregate points were safe.
Gjedde rode well in Heat 14 to get the better of Smolinski and Janniro after being squeezed out in the early stages, and Adams was back to winning ways in the last head as Nicholls took a couple of laps to overcome Gjedde, but the match was over by that stage.
So, 69 points from 34 matches for the Bees and guaranteed top spot with two still to go this week. Whatever else is achieved this season, it has been a phenomenal run to get this far, but Bees are now determined not to let their standards slip, and will go into the play-offs on a tremendous high.
COVENTRY 55 SWINDON 35 Monday 10th September 2007 - Sky Sports Elite League 'B'
BUILDBASE BEES Scott Nicholls 2 3 3 3 1* = 12+1 Olly Allen R/R Chris Harris 3 2 3 2* 2 = 12+1 Martin Smolinski 0 1* 1 1* = 3+2 Rory Schlein 3 0 3 2 1= 9 Billy Janniro 1* 3 3 2* X 2 = 11+2 Steve Johnston 2* 2* 0 1 3 = 8+2
SWINDON ROBINS Leigh Adams 3 3 3 2 3 = 14 Tomasz Chrzanowski R/R Lee Richardson 1* 1* 1^ = 3+2 Charlie Gjedde 2 2 2 0 3 0 = 9 Sebastian Ulamek 1 1* 2 0 = 4+1 Andrew Moore 0 1 0 0 1 0 = 2 Cory Gathercole 0 F 2 X 1 0 = 3