COVENTRY came up with a barnstorming finale to snatch a dramatic 47-42 win at Lakeside on Friday – and open up a ten-point lead at the top of the Elite League table.
The Buildbase Bees trailed by four points with two races to go at Purfleet, but the meeting turned completely on its head with a 5-0 in Heat 14 followed by a stunning Heat 15 5-1 from Danny King and skipper Chris Harris.
It was the Bees’ fourth away win of the season and was achieved at a notoriously tough venue to visit, on a night which indicated just how difficult the current format can be as several of the heat-leaders on both sides struggled to get into the major points.
Bees, in fact, only had two individual race winners, but fortunately King was in his best form of the season so far as he took the flag in four of his five outings, whilst livewire reserve Jason Garrity had control in his position and also added a crucial Heat 9 victory over Kim Nilsson amongst his hat-trick of successes.
It looked like it could be a long night ahead when Hammers guest Freddie Lindgren partnered Kim Nilsson to a 5-1 in the opening race, but Bees then dug in, taking two points back in Heat 2 with Garrity quickly rounding Adam Ellis on turn one whilst Darryl Ritchings got the better of Marc Owen in the first battle of the replacements.
A series of shared races followed with Harris snatching third place from Mikkel Bech on the last bend of Heat 3 when the Dane went wide as he tried to pass Joonas Kylmakorpi – whilst King started his night with a spectacular effort in Heat 4, rounding first Ellis and then Richard Lawson at the end of the first lap.
Lakeside doubled their lead with a 4-2 in Heat 6 as Hans Andersen was squeezed out on turn one leaving Bees relieved that Harris managed to pass Bech again, this time on the outside, to prevent maximum damage.
Bees gradually moved back into contention and gated on a 5-1 in Heat 7 only for Edward Kennett to switch inside Kylmakorpi on the second lap for second place, and the leveller came in Heat 9 as Garrity replaced Ritchings and quickly moved clear whilst Nilsson got the better of King in the battle for second.
Andersen made his best start of the match to lead Heat 10 but was undone by a terrific ride by Kennett, who blasted around the outside to hit the front, but an important third place from Robson over Bech maintained parity.
Disaster struck the Bees in Heat 11 when Nilsson and Lindgren raced away from Kylmakorpi and Harris for a 5-1, and at that stage it looked like a point might be the best the visitors could realistically be looking for.
Garrity dominated the second reserves’ race but this time Owen defeated Ritchings in the battle for third, the two exchanging places before Ritchings retired.
Heat 13 was also shared with Kennett an impressive winner, albeit being reeled in by Harris towards the end, whilst Andersen held back Lindgren who lifted coming off turn two on several occasions.
Trailing 37-41, Bees looked set to claw two points back in Heat 14 after a majestic first lap by Kylmakorpi to surge around Lawson, only for back-marker Bech to fall on turn two second time around, and the Dane was unable to clear the track.
It looked like the ultimate frustration in the re-run as Lawson led – but at the start of lap three he dramatically came to a halt and all he was able to do was drag the bike into the infield – meaning King and Kylmakorpi shot through for an unchallenged 5-0.
Having been behind for much of the meeting, Bees suddenly led 42-41 but the Hammers still had choice of gates for Heat 15 and elected to track Lindgren with Kennett, whilst Bees sent out Harris and King, needing a 3-3 to win the match.
Harris missed the start from the outside but King was crucially in play on the first two bends, and as Kennett pushed King wide the Bees rider simply kept on coming and still made it through – and whilst this was taking place, Harris had cut back into the vacant space on the inside in a truly brilliant move to join his team-mate up front.
That was effectively job done as the Bees duo made no mistakes over the remaining three laps and crossed the line for a 5-1 to land another major psychological blow in the battle for play-off places this season – not to mention adding three more points to their total.
Harris said: “We had a bit of luck for the first time this year in Heat 14 when Richard stopped, and that 5-0 got us back into it.
“Then I made one of my lightning starts, missed it, and watched the other three go into the first corner, and when Eddie moved Danny out I thought the corner had opened up and I could pick where I wanted to go.
“I made a good cutback and tried to stop Eddie’s run, Danny was just ahead of him so I wanted to hopefully make Eddie slow down, Danny got round the outside and the rest was history really, we went and got the 5-1!
“We’re pleased with the win, and now we move on to the next one. A big thanks to the travelling fans, and we appreciate all the support they give us – they’re a great bunch, and hopefully we can keep winning for them and at the end of the year have something to celebrate.”
LAKESIDE 42: Kim Nilsson 11, Edward Kennett 11, Richard Lawson 8, Freddie Lindgren 5+2, Adam Ellis 5+1, Marc Owen 1+1, Mikkel Bech 1 COVENTRY 47: Danny King 13, Jason Garrity 11+2, Chris Harris 7+2, Stuart Robson 6+1, Joonas Kylmakorpi 6+1, Hans Andersen 3+1, Darryl Ritchings 1 Elite League points: Lakeside 0 Coventry 3
LAKESIDE 42 Freddie Lindgren 2* 0 2* 0 1 = 5+2 Kim Nilsson 3 3 2 3 = 11 Mikkel Bech 0 1 0 X = 1 Richard Lawson 2 3 3 R = 8 Edward Kennett 3 2 3 3 0 = 11 Adam Ellis 2 1* 0 0 2 = 5+1 Marc Owen 0 0 1* = 1+1
BUILDBASE BEES 47 Hans Andersen 0 0 2 1* = 3+1 Stuart Robson 1 2 2 1* = 6+1 Joonas Kylmakorpi 2 1 1 2* = 6+1 Danny King 3 3 1 3 3 = 13 Chris Harris 1* 2 0 2 2* = 7+2 Jason Garrity 3 1* 1* 3 3 = 11+2 Darryl Ritchings 1 R M R = 1