COVENTRY went down to a 56-34 defeat in the first leg of the Elite Shield at Poole on Wednesday – but there were plenty of encouraging signs as the 2016 campaign gets underway.
Using rider-replacement for injured No.1 Krzysztof Kasprzak, the Buildbase Bees were hardly expected to pull off a win against the title favourites, but this was a more than competitive performance with the prospect of more to come.
Skipper Chris Harris raced to three wins on his way to a 13-point total, and just as eye-catching was the debut of Polish youngster Kacper Woryna, who collected seven paid eight.
Woryna noticeably improved as the night went on, and after missing out in close early scraps with Kyle Newman and Brady Kurtz, he comfortably got the better of Pirates skipper Davey Watt in Heat 14 and then led former Bees rider Hans Andersen in the last race until he was brought down by the Dane.
That proved to be Andersen’s only defeat of the night as he showed a great deal of determination against his old club, including a fierce first bend against Harris in Heat 6 which left the Bees captain chasing to make up ground and re-passing Watt for second place.
Bees had in fact gone six points up in the early stages, aided by mechanical failure for Poole reserve Adam Ellis in Heat 2, whilst Harris and Danny King pulled off a fine 5-1 over Watt and Krzysztof Buczkowski in the next.
It took until midway through the meeting for the Pirates to fully assert control of the meeting, with a run of five successive advantages between Heats 5 and 9 accounting for much of their final margin.
King broke that run of results with a good ride to win Heat 10, but Bees’ move to deploy Harris for double points in the next proved unsuccessful as he and King were out-gated by Chris Holder and Brady Kurtz.
Poole extended their lead to 20-points with three heats to go but Bees pegged things thereafter, Harris superbly going back around Holder to win Heat 13, whilst Woryna chased Andersen all the way in the next.
Holder did take revenge over Harris in the last as their personal battle ended 2-2, Andersen having been ejected for taking down Woryna when attempting to pass on the second lap.
Bees boss Gary Havelock said: “I’m not disappointed. It’s the first meeting, I said before that we didn’t want anything stupid on the night and it’s great to get these two matches in before the league starts.
“Kacper got better every race in my opinion, and hopefully he can be our secret weapon this year. I’d never seen the kid ride, but Bomber recommended him and Krzysztof seconded that, and he can definitely ride a bike.
“He showed he has a racing head on his shoulders, he got into what were some very awkward situations but he managed to pull it out.
“I’m very optimistic of beating Poole on Friday – not necessarily pulling back all of those points, but I felt it was a very decent run-out and it will do us good.”
ELITE SHIELD 1st leg POOLE 56: Chris Holder 12+1, Hans Andersen 11+1, Kyle Newman 10+2, Adam Ellis 7, Krzysztof Buczkowski 6+2, Brady Kurtz 6+1, Davey Watt 4. COVENTRY 34: Chris Harris 13, Kacper Woryna 7+1, Danny King 6+1, Jason Garrity 3, Josh Bates 3, James Sarjeant 2+1, Krzysztof Kasprzak R/R.
POOLE 56 Chris Holder 2 2* 3 2 3 = 12+1 Brady Kurtz 0 1 3 2* = 6+1 Davey Watt 0 1 2 1 = 4 Hans Andersen 3 3 2* 3 X = 11+1 Krzysztof Buczkowski 1 3 1* 1* = 6+2 Adam Ellis 0 3 1 3 = 7 Kyle Newman 3 2* 3 2* = 10+2
BUILDBASE BEES 34 Krzysztof Kasprzak Rider Replacement Jason Garrity 1 2 0 0 0 = 3 Danny King 2* 0 3 1 0 = 6+1 Kacper Woryna 1 0 1 2 2 1* = 7+1 Chris Harris 3 3 2 T0 3 2 = 13 James Sarjeant 1* 0 1 0 = 2 Josh Bates 2 R 0 1 = 3