CLUB legend Chris Harris turned back the clock to lead Coventry Bees to a dramatic 46-44 win in Wednesday’s special challenge match at Birmingham.
Harris, who was involved in three league title wins for the Brandon side, never turns down the opportunity to pull on the famous race-jacket once again.
And with a string of trademark overtaking moves at Perry Barr, he helped the Bees team to pull back from 12-points down to snatch victory in the last race in front of a large and noisy contingent of travelling fans.
Harris scored 14 points from six rides despite failing to score in Heat 1 when he was on a 5-1 with Lee Complin only for his cutout to cause him to slow on the second lap.
But he only dropped one point thereafter, and he finished the night with four straight wins, charging past Troy Batchelor to win Heat 9 and Justin Sedgmen to take Heat 11.
Harris had fine support from Kyle Howarth, a member of Coventry’s Grand Final team of 2014, and the two combined for an excellent 5-1 over Josh Pickering and Justin Sedgmen in Heat 13 to continue a comeback from 30-18 down to make it 40-38 with just two races remaining.
The Bees had recorded back-to-back 4-2s prior to that with Leon Flint winning Heat 12 and youngster Max Perry taking a superb third place over Batchelor.
Team manager Martin Coleman, who had earlier used the tactical substitute to good effect with Harris, elected to switch reserves in Heat 14 bringing Perry in, and was rewarded with another third place as he held off Sam Hagon, whilst Connor Mountain won the race to make it 42-42.
When Brummies skipper Sedgmen gated in the decider, it looked like honours would be even – but Harris was not prepared to settle for a draw, and quickly reeled in Sedgmen to pass for the lead, whilst Howarth held on for the crucial third place over Pickering.
Harris said: “It was a good night of racing and it was great for us to come back from 12 points down and win it in the last race.
“It was also nice to see such a turnout of fans, everyone knows what Coventry means to me and I’m glad they all enjoyed it.”
We would like to say a huge thank you to the Birmingham promotion for putting the meeting on, and wish them all the best in their own fight for a long-term future.
Thanks to all the riders who represented the Bees, including those who came in at short notice due to injuries elsewhere, and of course the fans who showed up in such good numbers – again, it shows exactly what the club means to us all and why nobody can ever argue that the sport is not needed.
BIRMINGHAM 44: Justin Sedgmen 9, Josh Pickering 7+1, Alfie Bowtell 7+1, Paul Starke 7+1, Stefan Nielsen 6+1, Troy Batchelor 6, Sam Hagon 2+1. COVENTRY BEES SELECT 46: Chris Harris 14, Kyle Howarth 10+1, Connor Mountain 7+1, Leon Flint 6+1, Lee Complin 6, Max Perry 3, Freddy Hodder 0.