Dramatic draw as Richardson crashes out

Lakeside Hammers 45 Coventry Bees 45THE Hammers overcame the loss of number one Lee Richardson in the opening race to come from behind and snatch a draw in this scintillating clash against Coventry.

Lakeside Hammers 45 Coventry Bees 45

THE Hammers overcame the loss of number one Lee Richardson in the opening race to come from behind and snatch a draw in this scintillating clash against Coventry.

Richardson slid off on the first turn in heat one and spent some time being tended to on the track before being taken away in an ambulance. He was quickly announced as being ruled out of the remainder of the meeting, which immediately left the Hammers facing an immense uphill challenge against their arch rivals for a playoff spot.

The re-run of the opening race saw lone Hammer Joonas Kylmakorpi gate, only to be passed by British Champion Chris Harris. Ben Barker then produced similar in the second race, passing William Lawson to force a shared heat.

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There was more great action in the third when Kauko Nieminen passed and was then re-passed by Oliver Allen as team mate Jonas Davidsson stormed clear.

This was clear indication that the Hammers were determined to ensure that the Bees, undoubted favourites at his point, would be made to fight for every point out on track.

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The home side enjoyed a run of 4-2's in heat five and six and prevented the Bees from claiming a maximum in the next when Edward Kennett and Allen made a hash of their team riding and allowed Piotr Swiderski to dive up the inside of Allen on the last lap.

Another blistering win for Barker at the turn after Stuart Robson had fallen brought the Bees level, leaving plenty more opportunities for the electric Barker to appear over the course of the remaining heats.

It was Rory Schlein who finally got the drop on Jonas Davidsson from the gate in heat nine, only for the Swede to sell the perfect nutmeg and change his line on the final lap to pass the Aussie and take a 4-2 with Nieminen to put the Hammers back in front.

The Hammers, though, could only cover Richardson's rides with reserves and quickly conceded the advantage in the next race when Kennett drove around the outside of Kylmakorpi with Allen picking up third.

Bees began to assert what looked like the proverbial stamp on proceedings with a well executed 5-1 from Harris and Barker over Swiderski in heat eleven to move the Bees four points in front. Barker's quick reappearance in the next was less fruitful when he made a mess of the start to leave Robson to team up with Nieminen and collect an unlikely 5-1 over Allen to huge cheers from a large and very vocal home crowd.

Harris and Schlein nabbed a 4-2 in heat thirteen to leave home tensions mounting, but Robson produced another excellent minor place in beating Barker in the penultimate race alongside Davidsson.

The Swede, such a force around his home track these days, lost his unbeaten run to Kennett but the shared race set things up for the last with Hammers needing a minimum 4-2 to take a draw.

As the tapes rose on the last heat decider, Davidsson drove underneath Kennett to take an early lead as Kylmakorpi battled for the vital third place against Harris.

Try as he might, Harris could not find a way past the Finn, who crossed the line to huge roars. The Hammers had collected a most unlikely draw with depleted resources and can take huge satisfaction from this impressive display in backs-to-the-walls circumstances.

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