Hammers lose out at Brandon

COVENTRY picked up all three points from a must-win clash with Lakeside - even though they were reduced in personnel in the very first race.

COVENTRY picked up all three points from a must-win clash with Lakeside - even though they were reduced in personnel in the very first race.

When Lewis Bridger crashed out in Heat 1, it went a long way to cancelling out the injury misfortune suffered by the Hammers, especially as the visitors had a strong guest in Rory Schlein whereas the Buildbase Bees had to cover Bridger’s rides with their reserves - who, fortunately, were both up to the task.

Where Lakeside lost out in the end was in using rider replacement for Lee Richardson and only really having Schlein and Adam Shields who were in top form, and having used both early in the meeting, the Hammers did run out of options later on.

It was, though, two of their supporting cast in Kauko Nieminen and Stuart Robson who did give the Bees some nervous moments with a 5-1 in Heat 8 which brought the visitors to within two points at the halfway stage - but back-to-back maximums after the interval put the Bees back in charge.

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Bridger’s crash was part of an unusual chain of events in Heat 1, which started with three riders going up the back straight virtually abreast, and as Krzysztof Kasprzak clamped down on Shields, the Australian got out of shape and went down on the third bend. Exactly when the red lights came on was a matter for debate, but seconds later Bridger came to a sudden stop on turn for and fell heavily, and as Shields was remounting both blue and white disqualification lights shone.

Shields had seemingly been under power throughout the incident, and after a brief delay the white light became un-illuminated and it was the disqualification of Bridger which was announced, and of more concern to the Bees at that stage was the fact that he had taken a knock to his head. Without clear vision in one of his eyes, Bridger had to be withdrawn and what could well have been a 5-1 without that incident became a 4-2 to Lakeside when Shields duly won the re-run, gating alongside Kasprzak and moving his former team-mate out as they exited turn two.

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There were more bizarre happenings in Heat 2, first with a re-start after Paul Hurry had moved, and then with another stoppage as Hurry this time not only moved but also ploughed through the tapes. It took some time to disentangle the mess, but then an apparent lack of communication resulted in Hurry walking back to the pits whilst the new two-minute warning was running down - and as the other three riders scrambled back to the tapes, Hurry was duly timed out and could not take his place from the 15-metre handicap.

Richard Sweetman started a great night’s work with a win over Stuart Robson in the re-run with Shane Parker third to level the scores at 6-6, and Bees then took the lead for the first time with maximum points in Heat 3, Schlein being swamped from both sides by Edward Kennett and Ben Barker going into the first bend, with the home pair then team-riding well for maximum points.

Shields was strong again on the first two turns to head Chris Harris and Sweetman in a shared Heat 4, and Schlein flew off gate four to take a win from the next race with Bees salvaging a 3-3 when Nieminen went wide off the fourth bend allowing Barker the opportunity to come through on the inside.

Shields’ colours were finally lowered in Heat 6, although not by Kasprzak who was initially battling on the first bend with Shields, but instead by the impressive Sweetman, who fired around the outside off turn two and then rode a perfect line to see off Shields for a Coventry 4-2.

The next race was shared with Schlein again using gate four to move clear of Harris, but Parker took a comfortable third ahead of an unhappy-looking Daniel Davidsson, meaning Bees still held a six point lead.

But this was pegged back in Heat 8 as Sweetman found his options closed off from the inside with both Nieminen and Robson stepping up for the Hammers to notch a 5-1 which put them right back in the meeting.

Barker rode a superb first lap to round Shields in Heat 9 with the Lakeside captain creditably giving his rival room to race - but with Kennett squeezed out on the first bend, his attempted outside pass on Hurry as they went up the back straight for the final time was met with a firm block.

Still Bees were frustrated in their bid to move clear, and when Kasprzak and Sweetman seemed to have a 5-1 going over Schlein in Heat 10, Sweetman suffered an engine failure off turn four which took his chain off and sent him down, the only very slight consolation being that he was able to clear the track in time for the race to continue with Kasprzak ahead.

But the lead was still far too close for comfort and Bees knew they had to take advantage in Heats 11 and 12, where the Hammers were weaker on paper. So it proved, with guest Parker showing all of his experience to round the field in Heat 11 with Harris sitting on the inside to prevent any threat from Robson as Bees went six points up.

There was briefly a surprise in Heat 12 when Davidsson made the start, but he was quickly reversed to fourth place as Sweetman and Barker went through, Barker slowing down to allow his team-mate alongside with Hurry unable to get into the equation as a few spots of rain fell.

That left the Hammers to use a tactical ride in Heat 13, Shields going for the six-pointer and possibly looking favourite to get it as he had the outside gate - but this time he didn’t make the start, Harris took control of the race and Shields cleverly cut back inside Kasprzak off turn two to make sure of four points in a 4-4 race result.

Bees therefore had the meeting won as the Hammers couldn’t use a second tactical ride, but they still had to make sure of all three points and they looked set to have to wait for it when Heat 14 ran as a 3-3 for much of the race, Kennett getting the better of Schlein early on but Robson working hard to pass Parker on the second lap - only for the Hammers reserve to throw a chain going into the last lap and fall, allowing a close-following Parker through for third place to take Bees twelve clear.

That made the last race academic, which looked fortunate in the early stages as Schlein an Shields hit the first bend in front, although Harris quickly made it around Shields into turn three and put in a strong challenge on Schlein before an error on the third lap lost him too much ground.

An all-important result for the Bees who cannot afford to drop home points and have some tough Brandon tests to come - and now they need to step up away from home as well, starting at Belle Vue on Monday.


Krzysztof Kasprzak 2 1 3 1 = 7

Lewis Bridger X = 0

Ben Barker 2* 1* 3 2* 0 = 8+3

Edward Kennett 3 2 0 3 = 8

Chris Harris 2 2 2* 3 2 = 11+1

Shane Parker 1 1* 0 3 1 = 6+1

Richard Sweetman 3 1* 3 1 F 3 = 11+1


Lee Richardson Rider Replacement

Kauko Nieminen 1 0 3 0 0 = 4

Daniel Davidsson 0 0 0 = 0

Rory Schlein 1 3 3 2 2 3 = 14

Adam Shields 3 3 2 2 4^ 1 = 15

Paul Hurry M 0 1* 1* 1 = 3+2

Stuart Robson 2 0 2* 1 F = 5+1

1 SHIELDS 59.3 Kasprzak, Nieminen, Bridger (f,dq) (2-4)

2 SWEETMAN 59.5 Robson, Parker, Hurry (t/15m/min) (6-6)

3 KENNETT 59.5 Barker, Schlein, Davidsson (11-7)

4 SHIELDS 58.9 Harris, Sweetman, Robson (14-10)

5 SCHLEIN 58.4 Kennett, Barker, Nieminen (17-13)

6 SWEETMAN 59.3 Shields, Kasprzak, Hurry (21-15)

7 SCHLEIN 58.8 Harris, Parker, Davidsson (24-18)

8 NIEMINEN 59.6 Robson, Sweetman, Parker (25-23)

9 BARKER 59.4 Shields, Hurry, Kennett (28-26)

10 KASPRZAK 59.8 Schlein, Hurry, Sweetman (f) (31-29)

11 PARKER 59.7 Harris, Robson, Nieminen (36-30)

12 SWEETMAN 61.8 Barker, Hurry, Davidsson (41-31)

13 HARRIS 59.1 Shields^, Kasprzak, Nieminen (45-35)

14 KENNETT awd Schlein, Parker, Robson (f) (49-37)

15 SCHLEIN 59.8 Harris, Shields, Barker (51-41)


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