COVENTRY continued to build momentum ahead of the Elite League play-offs with a comfortable 54-36 win over Leicester at Brandon on Friday.
Flying reserve Jason Garrity cruised to a 12-point maximum whilst skipper Chris Harris piled up paid-17 from six rides - and finished off with one of the rides of the season to overhaul Jason Doyle in the last race to the delight of the crowd.
The result moves the Buildbase Bees back to second place in the Elite League table, three points ahead of Swindon who race at leaders Poole on Monday and at King’s Lynn on Wednesday, whilst Coventry complete their regular campaign at home to Lakeside also on Wednesday.
In truth, the margin against the Lions could and probably should have been wider as the visitors were limited to just two race wins all evening, but an assortment of mishaps on the Bees team prevented them from turning the meeting into a rout.
Garrity’s four race wins were matched by Hans Andersen who was rapid from the start all night and would have scored more but for being on the rough end of two fierce first bends - the second of which saw him especially harshly treated.
Kyle Howarth suffered problems in his first two rides with a fall and a retirement, but he did hit back later in the meeting, James Sarjeant fell in an unfortunate start to Heat 8 when Bees appeared set for a 5-1, and another likely maximum advantage went awry in Heat 10 when Danny King slipped off on turn four when clear of the Lions’ top man Jason Doyle.
Several Leicester riders did put in plenty of effort, with Szymon Wozniak chasing King hard in Heat 3 although Bees did card a 5-1, and guest Charles Wright pounced to pass Sarjeant for second place on the last bend of Heat 4.
But Piotr Swiderski failed even to complete a racing lap for the visitors in three dismal outings as they conceded advantages every time he appeared on track.
The Lions’ main success came with a 5-1 in Heat 6 from Wozniak and Doyle as Andersen had been forced to give way on the first bend, but the Bees hit straight back through Harris and King in the next race.
Garrity, as so often, was winning races other than the reserves’ heat, and after getting the better of Ulrich Ostergaard in his second outing he then eased inside Wright on the first lap to take the flag in Heat 9.
Howarth gained a confidence-boosting win in Heat 11 as Harris negotiated the traffic to move past Wozniak and Richard Lawson early on, and the Bees reserves took their more usual 5-1 in the next race.
That effectively ended the meeting as a contest, although Doyle ended Harris’s unbeaten run in Heat 13 before Lawson snatched second place from King midway through Heat 14.
The best, though, was saved for the final race - but only after a controversial first start when Andersen was left with nowhere to go by Doyle in the clearest case of first bend bunching anyone could ever wish to see.
But because Andersen somehow kept his machine out of the fence and avoided crashing, the race was inexplicably allowed to continue until a furious Andersen remained on the track, causing a stoppage, and the Dane was disqualified.
Harris had led that first staging but in the re-run it was Doyle who made the start and a thrilling battle ensued with the Australian riding the outside and Harris switching back for the inside for a couple of laps - before grabbing a huge handful of drive off the final bend and surging around his rival in an outstanding passing move.
This came at a stage where the match points were already well in the bag, and with Harris having the major Grand Prix Challenge meeting in Poland on Saturday, underlining once again the 100 per cent commitment he displays to his club at all times.
Harris said: “I made a good start the first time but then they re-ran it, and I didn’t make a bad one second time but Jason just got in front of me and was in the dirt.
“I chased him for four laps and I think he just moved off the dirt-line a bit too much, I saw it and thought I’d have a go, and I just got round!
“It was a good win despite a few mishaps, and we’re not fussed who we get in the play-offs - it doesn’t really matter, we can beat anyone.
“Obviously it’s a big loss to be without Joonas (Kylmakorpi), but hopefully we can cover that.”
ELITE LEAGUE COVENTRY 54: Chris Harris 15+2, Hans Andersen 12, Jason Garrity 12, Danny King 7+1, Kyle Howarth 5+1, James Sarjeant 3+1, Joonas Kylmakorpi r/r LEICESTER 36: Jason Doyle 10+2, Ulrich Ostergaard 8+2, Charles Wright 6+1, Simon Lambert 4+2, Richard Lawson 4, Szymon Wosniak 4, Piotr Swiderski 0 Elite League points: Coventry 3 Leicester 0