COVENTRY were beaten 52-38 at Poole on Wednesday in their latest Challenge fixture.
It wasn’t a night when the Bees were able to revive memories of one of their greatest-ever triumphs in 2010, but as with the trip to Wolverhampton last week it was a competitive encounter against a strong home side.
And another significant turn-out of away support, this time on a long midweek trip, once again indicated the passion which exists for the club, and justifies the efforts being made to resolve the wholly unsatisfactory situation they find themselves in.
Coventry were limited to four heat wins in Dorset, although there were notable successes along the way – most particularly the victory for Josh Bates over home skipper Hans Andersen in Heat 4.
That race, though, proved an expensive one for Bees legend Chris Harris, who blew an almost-new engine on the start-line.
With skipper Danny King having won Heat 1 and Lasse Bjerre adding to Bates’s success in Heat 7, Bees trailed by only two points at the halfway stage.
They had been somewhat fortunate in Heat 3 when Lewis Kerr fell going into the final turn after losing out in a battle with Jason Garrity, and Kerr crashed again two races later, but Harris’s misfortune did rather cancel that out.
Poole began to pull clear with a series of 4-2s, the exception coming in Heat 10 when the in-form Bjerre again rode superbly to get the better of Jack Holder and Krzysztof Kasprzak – fending off a strong last-bend challenge from the young Australian.
The Pirates went six-up in Heat 11 although Stefan Nielsen – who picked up a most creditable paid-six score racing in the top five – did split Andersen and Nicolai Klindt, and a possible Bees advantage in Heat 13 was lost when Andersen moved forcefully past King after a super-fast start from the Coventry captain.
Poole took the sole 5-1 of the evening courtesy of Klindt and Brady Kurtz in Heat 14, which was a fourth straight victory for Kurtz.
But he was to be denied a five-ride full house as Harris split him from Andersen in the final race, although Kurtz was awarded third place in a close finish with King, to move the gap up to a rather unreflective 14 points.
Coventry’s guest team manager Alun Rossiter said: “I really enjoyed it - obviously there wasn’t a lot of pressure on but it was nice to be asked to come back, at the place where we had one of the best nights in the club’s history.
“It’s devastating to not have Coventry in the league this year. It’s a massive club, and with the football not doing well and the speedway gone, it’s so disappointing.
“Hopefully something can be done to lift the spirits up there and get the track situation sorted out for next year. I know a lot of effort is being put in to keep the name alive, and it would be a travesty if it was lost.
“It does need to come back quickly, because nine times out of ten when tracks shut down they don’t come back. It would be so sad to see the demise of Coventry Bees – they’re such a big club, and they deserve better.”
Coventry’s next Challenge fixture comes up on Saturday May 6 when they travel to SGB Premiership newcomers Rye House – which is set to be a serious reunion as the Rockets themselves include several former Bees riders.
CHALLENGE POOLE 52: Brady Kurtz 13, Hans Andersen 13, Jack Holder 8, Nicolai Klindt 6+1, Krzysztof Kasprzak 5+2, Lewis Kerr 4, James Shanes 3+1. COVENTRY 38: Lasse Bjerre 8+1, Chris Harris 8, Danny King 5+2, Stefan Nielsen 5+1, Josh Bates 5, Jason Garrity 5, James Sarjeant 2.