COVENTRY added another away point to their Elite League total with a solid effort in a narrow 43-47 local derby defeat at Wolverhampton.
The Buildbase Bees were always in touch throughout an eventful and at times controversial affair, and gained some reward for their efforts when Kenneth Hansen and skipper Chris Harris kept World Champion Tai Woffinden at the back of a shared Heat 15.
And they might well have had more than one point to show for it had it not been for an unlucky night for Kyle Howarth in particular, whilst a sensational show from reserve Jason Garrity finished with bike trouble in his last two rides.
Garrity won his first three outings in spectacular style, defeating top-five rider Ty Proctor in the process in Heat 4, and he was ably backed up by colleague James Sarjeant as Bees outscored the Wolves reserves 16-5.
But at the upper end of the line-ups, Bees had no answer to flying Pole Piotr Pawlicki who found the fastest way around a track made tricky in the early stages by heavy pre-meeting rain which forced a half-hour delay to the start.
The track staff worked well to ensure racing could go ahead, and there was plenty of fine action with Pawlicki pulling off five wins out of five and receiving sound backing from young Swede Jacob Thorssell in particular.
Bees No.1 Hans Andersen won his first two rides, the second of which saw him team up with Harris for a match-levelling 5-1 in Heat 6 after Wolves had taken maximum points in the previous race with the start appearing to be less than satisfactory although Ryan Fisher’s challenge ended with a dropped chain in any case.
By this stage, Garrity was unbeaten from two rides, but Sarjeant was in the thick of things too and he again had the beating of Ashley Morris in Heat 7 as Bees kept the meeting tight.
They looked set to go ahead in Heat 8 when Howarth and Fisher hit the front, only for Proctor to fall on turn four with Howarth deemed the cause of the stoppage as he was adjudged to have impeded the Australian when he got out of shape.
Fisher won the re-run and Bees did go ahead in the next race thanks to their flying reserves – before Wolves immediately levelled the scores thanks to Woffinden and Thorssell in the next.
In Heat 11 Bees finally got out ahead of Pawlicki but the Pole was quickly around Andersen and then switched to the extreme inside off the final turn to get to the line ahead of Hansen, although that verdict was not shared by everyone of a Coventry persuasion.
With the scores level, Bees had misfortune in Heat 12 when Garrity hit mechanical trouble as Thorssell rode a fine back straight to slice through the field, although Sarjeant’s second place ahead of Joe Jacobs prevented a home 5-1.
Harris then required eyes in the back of his head to keep Woffinden behind him for second place behind Pawlicki in Heat 13, Andersen’s challenge fading with engine problems as Wolves went four-up.
The gremlins struck Garrity again in Heat 14 as Hansen held on for a win over Proctor, meaning Bees needed a 5-1 from the last race to snatch a draw or, more realistically, to avoid conceding a 5-1 to take a league point.
Facing the Pawlicki/Woffinden combination this was far from an easy task, but Woffinden missed out on turn one from the outside gate, and his attempted overtaking move on the second lap sent him too close to the fence and effectively out of contention as Hansen and Harris held on.
Bees boss Gary Havelock said: “I’m disappointed we didn’t win really, because I think the chance was there to win, but unfortunately certain decisions went against us.
“I think I was on the phone to the referee four times in the first six heats and after that he stopped answering the phone.
“Kyle did pick up a bit and got out of shape, but everybody else was because of the rain on the track, and Kenneth was absolutely livid with the race he was sure he’d won, but again the referee wouldn't answer the phone."
WOLVERHAMPTON 47: Piotr Pawlicki 15, Jacob Thorssell 11, Tai Woffinden 6+3, Ty Proctor 6, Joe Jacobs 5+1, Ricky Wells 4+2, Ashley Morris 0. BUILDBASE BEES 43: Kenneth Hansen 9+1, Jason Garrity 9, Chris Harris 7+2, James Sarjeant 7+1, Hans Andersen 7+1, Ryan Fisher 3, Kyle Howarth 1.
WOLVERHAMPTON 47 Tai Woffinden 1* 2* 2* 1 0 = 6+3 Jacob Thorssell 2 3 3 3 = 11 Ricky Wells 2* 1 1* R = 4+2 Ty Proctor 2 X 2 2 = 6 Piotr Pawlicki 3 3 3 3 3 = 15 Joe Jacobs 2 F 1 1 1* = 5+1 Ashley Morris 0 F F = 0
BUILDBASE BEES 43 Hans Andersen 3 3 1* 0 = 7+1 Kyle Howarth R 1 X = 1 Ryan Fisher 0 R 3 0 = 3 Kenneth Hansen 1 1* 2 3 2 = 7+1 Chris Harris 1 2* 1 2 1*= 7+2 Jason Garrity 3 3 3 R R = 9 James Sarjeant 1 2 2* 2 = 7+1