COVENTRY’S 2014 home Elite League season opened with a 42-48 defeat at the hands of well-fancied King’s Lynn.
The Buildbase Bees raced into an early lead and for long spells looked to have the ability to defend their advantage, but the Stars fought back in the closing stages and outscored the Bees 17-7 over the final four races to clinch victory.
Whilst the visitors made winter headlines by putting together a powerful top three, it was fast-track reserve Lewis Kerr – the top-ranked rider in that list – and young Dane Nicklas Porsing who arguably turned the match in their side’s favour.
It was their Heat 12 5-1 over Ryan Fisher, with Kerr showing impressive track-craft to switch back off turn four to re-pass the American, which brought the scores level and set the Stars up to go ahead.
All of the Coventry riders had their moments during the meeting, but not consistently enough on a slick surface.
They started well with a shock 5-1 from Fisher and Hans Andersen over World No.3 Niels-Kristian Iversen, and a 4-2 in the reserves’ race gave them the early six point margin.
King’s Lynn served notice of their potential with a string of race wins, but it took them until Heat 7 to cut the gap to two points, Rory Schein having overtaken Kenneth Hansen to win Heat 3 and then got the better of Andersen and Chris Harris in Heat 6 – although Kerr showed his ability by leading Fisher for two laps in the seventh race as 16-year-old Robert Lambert took the win.
But Bees edged back into a four-point lead with Jason Garrity’s second reserves’ race win in Heat 9, backed up by a hard-working third placed for James Sarjeant in pouncing on an error by Lewis Rose.
But the Porsing/Kerr 5-1 in Heat 12 gave the visitors real momentum, and Iversen underlined their mood with a surging ride to move inside Harris going into lap two of Heat 13 as Andersen ran a second uncharacteristic last place.
When Kerr and Lambert both moved their way past Bees guest Claus Vissing for a 5-1 in Heat 14 the Stars had completed their turnaround for victory, although they were denied all four league points when Harris and Fisher kept Schlein at the back of the last race.
Coventry promoter Mick Horton said: “The crowd was fantastic so I’m really pleased with that, and it was good to get a meeting on – that was really important for us.
“We’re not making any excuses, King’s Lynn were better than us on the night and you have to accept that sometimes. We are a good team and we will bounce back.
“We’ve had a team meeting and the spirit is still fantastic, but we know we have to sort the track out. It’s a tough one but I do think we might need someone else in there to help out.
“Hans’s knee is playing up but he says he will be okay, he is racing on Sunday in Poland and he wants to ride at Poole on Monday.”
BUILDBASE BEES 42: Ryan Fisher 9+2, Chris Harris 8+2, Jason Garrity 7+1, Kenneth Hansen 7, Claus Vissing 5, Hans Andersen 4+1, James Sajeant 2. KING’S LYNN 48: Niels-Kristian Iversen 13, Lewis Kerr 10+1, Rory Schlein 9+1, Nicklas Porsing 8, Robert Lambert 5+1, Kenneth Bjerre 3+1, Lewis Rose 0.