COVENTRY staged a dramatic turnaround to hit back from a six-point deficit and defeat King’s Lynn 48-42 in a terrific Elite League clash at Brandon on Friday.
The fast-starting visitors led 24-18 after seven races but the Buildbase Bees responded in style with three 5-1s in the space of four mid-meeting heats.
Spectacular reserve Jason Garrity was instrumental in the fightback with crucial race results also coming from several other areas of the team - and the three league points gained puts the Bees back into a five-point advantage over Poole.
Visiting captain Niels-Kristian Iversen won Heat 15 to ensure his side took what may yet prove to be a valuable consolation point, especially with Swindon winning at Lakeside, and few could deny that the Stars deserved something from a meeting which attracted a big crowd on a pleasant evening.
The early races saw the visitors time and again hit the first bend in front, and Bees skipper Chris Harris had to recover from an awkward turn two moment to retrieve second place from Nicklas Porsing in Heat 1, although there was no stopping Iversen up-front.
Disaster struck in the reserves’ race as James Sarjeant was first to fall, and then Garrity, having charged inside Ashley Morris going into the last lap, also came to grief on the last bend and had to push his machine home.
That put the Stars 9-3 up and also meant Garrity would have to ride through the pain barrier of a knee problem - and, even by his standards, his response was remarkable.
Danny King swept around Kenneth Bjerre and Vaclav Milik to become the Bees’ first race winner in Heat 3, and they gained a 4-2 when Milik fell at the start of the last lap allowing Hans Andersen through.
Heat 4 was shared as Joonas Kylmakorpi got the better of Robert Lambert early on, but Sarjeant came to grief once more as he challenged Morris for third place.
Garrity then produced a barnstorming finish to Heat 5 as he reeled in Kerr on the last lap and snatched victory on the line with an inside move, and with Aaron Summers third the 4-2 cut the gap to two points - only for the Stars to hit back in some style with a 5-1 from Iversen and Milik, who held off every challenge of King in Heat 6 to make it 21-15 in Lynn’s favour.
Bees had hopes of recovering in Heat 7 but a dramatic turn four saw everyone out of shape as Andersen tried to go round Bjerre, and the King’s Lynn man recovered quickest before Harris salvaged third place from Lambert going into the last lap.
When Porsing and Kerr made the start in Heat 8 Bees looked to be in big trouble, but a brilliant cut-back from Kylmakorpi saw him take the lead and he was quickly joined by Garrity, who eased Kerr out on the back straight for the home side’s first 5-1 of the night.
Garrity took two rides in succession and then defeated Lambert in an exciting Heat 9 contest with Lambert’s outside run taking him alongside Garrity going into the last bend only for the Bees reserve to just hold his position in a shared race
And the big turning point followed in Heat 10 as King and Andersen sandwiched Iversen going into the first bend with the King’s Lynn skipper unable to find any way through as King defended his position superbly.
That put Bees ahead for the first time and they enhanced their position in Heat 11 with Garrity replacing Summers and again making the start with captain Harris joining him and then playing the team role to perfection by blocking out the threat of Milik for the entire race.
Suddenly Bees were six points up but the visitors were far from finished, as Kerr gained some revenge over Garrity by taking Heat 12 whilst Morris completed a solid night’s work in third place for a 4-2 - and just when Bees thought they had a winning position in Heat 13 as Harris and Andersen hit the front after a strong second bend, Iversen and Milik both battled their way past Andersen to share the race.
But there was to be no Coventry-style comeback from the Stars as Kylmakorpi and King eased all of the tension with a 4-2 in Heat 14, split by Bjerre, which ensured victory on the night.
The visitors then required a 3-3 from the last race to take a league point, and Iversen proved the man for the job, thanks to a fully committed first lap ride to squeeze around Kylmakorpi on the back straight, even though Milik missed out behind Harris.
Coventry manager Gary Havelock said: “Some people were panicking a little bit but I wasn’t too worried. We’ve proved on several occasions that we’re a team who won’t fold under pressure, and we proved it again tonight.
“Jason Garrity was sensational again for us, he blew the engine on his first bike after about his fourth ride and had to jump on his spare bike, and he just epitomises the spirit in the camp and the never-say-die attitude.
“It was really good to see a big crowd on a Friday night with nice weather, and I think everyone who’s been here tonight will go home thinking they’ve had their money’s worth.
“Sometimes people can forget that we’re in the entertainment business, but the biggest thing in speedway always has been and always will be the fans. They work hard all week and come here on a Friday paying their hard-earned money to watch the team, and I do think we’re a team who are worth the entrance fee - we never know when we’re beaten.”
Bees now have a near two-week break from Elite League racing before their final six fixtures of the regular campaign.
They travel to resurgent Swindon on August 13 before hosting Leicester 24-hours later.
Poole’s match in hand is at Belle Vue on Monday and the Pirates also host both Leicester and Belle Vue before the Bees are next in action.
ELITE LEAGUE COVENTRY 48: Jason Garrity 14+1, Joonas Kylmakorpi 11, Chris Harris 9+3, Danny King 7+1, Hans Andersen 6, Aaron Summers 1, James Sarjeant 0 KING’S LYNN 42: Niels-Kristian Iversen 12, Lewis Kerr 9, Kenneth Bjerre 7, Ashley Morris 5+3, Vaclav Milik 4+2, Robert Lambert 4, Nicklas Porsing 1 Elite League points: Coventry 3 King’s Lynn 1
BUILDBASE BEES 48 Chris Harris 2 1* 2* 3 1* = 9+3 Aaron Summers 0 1 F = 1 Danny King 3 1 2* 1 = 7+1 Joonas Kylmakorpi 3 0 3 3 2 = 11 Hans Andersen 1 2 3 0 = 6 Jason Garrity 1 3 2* 3 3 2 = 14+1 James Sarjeant F F 0 = 0