COVENTRY moved back level on points at the top of the Elite League table with a hard-fought 51-39 win over Leicester at Brandon on Friday.
The bottom club gave the Buildbase Bees several anxious moments, with two riders in outstanding form, before the home side pulled clear in the closing stages.
Going into the penultimate race of the night, both Jason Doyle and Grzegorz Walasek were unbeaten for the Lions, and having been well supported by guest Ulrich Ostergaard they certainly kept the Bees honest.
With the Coventry top two both experiencing problems, and being short of fortune, it was at reserve where the meeting was won and lost - with Jason Garrity backed up by a superb guest display from Josh Bates, who covered admirably for the injured James Sarjeant.
The duo outscored their Leicester counterparts 16-3, combining for crucial 5-1s in Heats 2 and 12 with Garrity on each occasion playing the team role to perfection by sitting in behind his colleague.
With gates 2 and 4 clearly superior in the early stages, there was a trading of 5-1s in the first four heats as the Lions twice took the lead only to be pegged back.
Bees skipper Chris Harris all-but passed Grzegorz Zengota for second place in Heat 3 only for the Pole to superbly hold his nerve on the outside, and Bates got the better of Szymon Wozniak for a notable second place behind team-mate Danny King in Heat 4.
Ostergaard did sterling job for the Lions to keep Stuart Robson at bay in Heat 5, and the level scoreline was maintained when Doyle surged around Joonas Kylmakorpi going into the last lap of Heat 6 to take his second win.
Walasek then fended off Harris in Heat 7, the Bees skipper left to rue a third lap lock-up, and Bates’s run came to an end in the next as he fell on turn three after a close tussle with Oliver Greenwood - although King swept around Ostergaard on turn four to win the re-run.
Bees finally hit the front in Heat 9 with Garrity conjuring a rocket start from the inside and Robson moving past Wozniak on turn two, but the Lions weren’t finished and gained a fortunate 4-2 in Heat 10 when Harris suffered mechanical trouble on lap three when in a comfortable second place.
Then in Heat 11 Andersen rode a superb first lap to hit the front only for Zengota to fall heavily on turn four, and in the re-run it was Walasek who gated and would not be passed.
Bates and Garrity eased the tension with a clear 5-1 in Heat 12 to put Bees six-up, and although there was no stopping Doyle in Heat 13, Andersen and Harris combined to bundle out Zengota on the first lap.
That left the Lions needing an unlikely two 5-1s to win, and King ensured Wozniak would be squeezed out at the start in Heat 14 before the Bees finally gained a stroke of luck in their favour as Walasek, who looked set to repeat his March display at Brandon of four successive wins, ground to a halt at the start of the last lap.
All of a sudden Bees were ten points up, and had their three league points safe, whilst the Lions needed a 5-1 from the last race to snatch a consolation.
Doyle and Walasek looked a strong pairing for Heat 15 but Kylmakorpi produced a trademark first lap around the boards to hit the front, and Doyle was relegated to the back by a determined Robson who re-passed the Australian on the third lap.
Coventry promoter Mick Horton said: “The really encouraging thing actually was that our top two riders scored four points each and we still won, and I’m taking the positives out of that.
“Josh did a marvellous job for us, and filled in for Sarj really well, so we take the three points from it and move on.
“Full credit to Leicester, they put on a really good show, and there was definitely some good racing so hopefully everyone enjoyed the meeting. We’re back to joint-top and I’m sure it will go down to the wire.”
BUILDBASE BEES 51: Joonas Kylmakorpi 10, Danny King 9+2, Jason Garrity 8+3, Josh Bates 8+1, Stuart Robson 8+1, Hans Andersen 4+2, Chris Harris 4+1. LEICESTER 39: Jason Doyle 12, Grzegorz Walasek 11, Ulrich Ostergaard 8+1, Szymon Wozniak 3, Grzegorz Zengota 2+1, Richard Hall 2, Oliver Greenwood 1+1.
BUILDBASE BEES 51 Hans Andersen 0 1* 1* 2 = 4+2 Stuart Robson 1 2 2* 2 1 = 8+1 Joonas Kylmakorpi 0 2 2 3 3 = 10 Danny King 3 1* 3 2* = 9+2 Chris Harris 1 2 R 1* = 4+1 Jason Garrity 2* 1* 3 2* = 8+3 Josh Bates 3 2* X 3 = 8+1
LEICESTER 39 Jason Doyle 3 3 3 3 0 = 12 Ulrich Ostergaard 2* 3 2 1 = 8+1 Grzegorz Walasek 3 3 3 R 2 = 11 Szymon Wozniak 1 0 1 1 = 3 Grzegorz Zengota 2* 0 X 0 = 2+1 Oliver Greenwood 0 0 1* 0 = 1+1 Richard Hall 1 0 0 1 = 2