COVENTRY raced to a convincing 52-38 win over Stoke in their National Trophy opener at Leicester on Sunday.
The Europress Bees always held the advantage after establishing an eight-point lead in the first three races, and they limited the Potters to only two heat advantages throughout the meeting.
No.1 Connor Mountain was in top form with four straight wins, and was only denied a maximum by a fine ride by Max Clegg in Heat 15, whilst skipper Jon Armstrong hit back from his recent mechanical issues with three wins in an 11-point haul.
Elsewhere there were solid contributions throughout the order with Bees having full control of the reserve department, whilst second-strings Luke Harris and Luke Ruddick both notched race victories.
With steady rain coming down throughout, the meeting was progressed at a fast pace and both sides deserve credit for seeing it through to a conclusion.
Bees opened up with a 4-2 as Mountain established the lead over Clegg on the back straight of Heat 1, before Ryan MacDonald and Jamie Halder romped to a clear 5-1 over their Stoke counterparts in the next.
Armstrong got the better of fellow veteran Tony Atkin with good speed off turn two in Heat 3, before ex-Storm rider Rob Shuttleworth put the Potters on the board with a win in Heat 4 with MacDonald moving inside William O’Keefe to maintain a shared race.
Ruddick fell on the exit of turn two in Heat 5 with Clegg’s win over Armstrong enabling the Potters to cut the gap to six points, but Bees effectively secured victory with three 4-2s in the next four races.
Mountain defeated Shuttleworth in Heat 6 with Harris supplying third place, and Harris made short work of Heat 8 as MacDonald again got through on the inside of O’Keefe later in the race.
Armstrong and Ruddick gated on a 5-1 in Heat 9 but were split by the lively Shuttleworth, whilst Harris had to bail out on a tight third bend in Heat 10 which ended his scoring for the day.
Halder nearly surprised Clegg in Heat 11 as he took the lead off turn two, only for the Stoke No.1 to surge back through on the inside, but two more Bees 4-2s followed as Shuttleworth fell on the last lap of Heat 13 whilst holding second place.
Heat 14 looked a likely Coventry 5-1 but Halder got out of shape after clipping team-mate Ruddick on turn two, allowing Adam Extance and O’Keefe to inherit a 3-3 as damage limitation.
And with rain falling harder, the top riders put on a good show in Heat 15 with Mountain making the start but Clegg making a bold outside pass for the lead, whilst Armstrong failed to score after being filled-in on the first bend.
Coventry manager Martyn Macdonald said: “It was a good one to get out of the way, especially with the conditions, but the meeting was on, everyone rode as well as they could, and it’s a good result for us.
“The important thing in conditions like that is to not be last, and even if you’re running fourth there’s always a chance that someone will fall off. Staying on the bike is always the priority.
“Jon was great out of the starts today and I’m sure there’s nobody more relieved than him, because he can put the chequebook away for the time being! He’s had a lot of bad luck, but he was great today.”
COVENTRY 52: Connor Mountain 14, Jon Armstrong 11, Danny Phillips 6+1, Ryan MacDonald 6+1, Jamie Halder 5+2, Luke Harris 5, Luke Ruddick 5. STOKE 38: Max Clegg 13, Tony Atkin 9, Rob Shuttleworth 8, Adam Extance 3+1, Paul Burnett 3, William O’Keefe 2+1, Joe Alcock 0.