DANNY King and Chris Harris put on a sensational show for Coventry at Wolverhampton on Monday – although it wasn’t enough to prevent an away defeat.
A more solid all-round home team raced to a 52-41 win in their final match before the Elite League play-offs, whilst the Buildbase Bees rounded off their away campaign for 2016 with just one win on the road.
King and Harris, though, gave the hosts plenty to think about with a series of terrific manoeuvres around the Monmore circuit, and from Coventry’s perspective it was just a pity that they were missing track specialist Jason Garrity in particular from the meeting.
British Champion King was beaten only once in six rides in what must rank as his best display at the circuit, whilst Harris was all-out entertainment on his way to a paid-15 score, dropping only one point after conceding a 5-1 with King in Heat 3.
Unfortunately, that was one of four successive maximum advantages recorded by the fast-gating home side between Heats 2 and 5 after King was successful in the opener, and at 22-8 it was always unlikely that the Bees would get fully back into the meeting.
But Harris got them back on the board with a smart win over World Champion Tai Woffinden in Heat 6, easing out home guest Richard Lawson at the end of the first lap, and then King took the maximum six points from a tactical ride in the next with a typically bold outside move to hold off the challenge of Sam Masters.
Any chance of a complete comeback, however, were ended as Wolves took the next three races by a 13-5 margin with maximum points in Heat 8, and another would have followed in Heat 9 but for a mid-race pass by Josh Bates on Max Clegg after both Coventry riders had made poor starts.
Heat 10 produced the race of the night after Ben Barker had initially been penalised 15-metres for exceeding the two-minute time allowance, only to be re-instated off the start-line when the other riders were also deemed to have exceeded it when returning to the track entrance!
Harris found himself chasing the team-riding pair of Woffinden and Masters, and split them beautifully coming into the last lap before all-but passing Woffinden on the run to the line with the Wolves rider just hanging on.
King and Harris then banked a 5-1 in Heat 11 as Peter Karlsson was eclipsed early on, but James Sarjeant demolished the tapes from the inside gate in Heat 12 and Wolves secured victory with a maximum in the re-run.
Coventry, however, dominated the closing stages, firstly with a shock 5-1 in Heat 13 when Harris moved Masters out on the fourth bend and Kacper Woryna followed him through, the young Pole then making an intelligent cut-back to re-pass Masters on the second bend of the last lap after the Australian had come back through.
King was supreme in Heat 14 as he picked up speed off bend four to slice inside Woffinden going into the second lap, the World Champion dropping to third place as he lifted on turn two.
And Woffinden then had no answer to Harris and King in Heat 15 with the Bees racing clear as Masters lost his steel shoe on the opening lap.
Harris said: “It’s the story of the season really, we started off badly and finished good, but it was nice to get a 5-1 with me and Danny in the last one.
“I don’t know if some of the boys were out with set-up or whatever, but Wolves is a hard place to come with the team they’ve got, so they just have to learn and move on.
“Everything was working well for me and there was good speed in the bike, and it’s always nice to beat their riders around here so I’m happy, other than the points I dropped!”
Bees wrap up their Elite League season against King’s Lynn at Brandon on Friday, in a meeting which also features a National League clash between the Storm and Belle Vue.
WOLVERHAMPTON 52: Kyle Howarth 12+3, Tai Woffinden 10+1, Sam Masters 8+1, Max Clegg 8+1, Richard Lawson 7+3, Peter Karlsson 7, Freddie Lindgren R/R. COVENTRY 41: Danny King 17+1, Chris Harris 14+1, Kacper Woryna 4+1, Josh Bates 3, Ben Barker 2, James Sarjeant 1, Krzysztof Kasprzak R/R.