Track the talking point as Hammers lose

Elite League BCoventry Bees 54 Lakeside Hammers 40TRACK conditions proved to be the major talking point following a disappointing night for the Hammers.

Elite League B

Coventry Bees 54 Lakeside Hammers 40

TRACK conditions proved to be the major talking point following a disappointing night for the Hammers.

On arrival at the Brandon track it was easy for everyone to see that the circuit had been subject to a lot of rain. The visitors were informed that there had been a major downpour around 3pm, however, in the circumstances the track did not look too bad. #

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The team were aware that the track staff were going to rip up the starts, which is a usual practice at Coventry. However, they also ripped up the outside third of both bends. This was somewhat of a surprise as the conditions were such that additional grip was not what was required.

The riders from both sides, along with the Sky Sports commentary team, were all concerned that they would have problems entering the bends.

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Those concerns were well founded as the meeting started. In heat one all the riders struggled and were constantly getting out of shape. Lee, from gate four, held on to win but the riders were well spread out with JK tailed off at the back.

Heat two saw Robert Mear make a good start but the race was stopped when Stuart Robson took a tumble. The slow motion replays showed that he was helped off by Ben Barker but the referee decreed that the restart should be with all four, undoubtedly giving the home rider the benefit of the doubt in the very difficult conditions.

In the re-run Mear made the start again but went from first to last when he made a big error on the fourth bend. The track conditions were a million miles away from what Robert was used to whilst racing at his Premier League track at Rye House. Robson managed to split the home pairing to put the Bees two points up.

On paper, the Bees strongest pairing of Oliver Allen and Edward Kennett claimed a 5-1 in the next heat with Kauko Nieminen struggling to come to terms with the conditions.

Extensive track work then followed although the introduction of the 'wonder wheel' seemed to make matters worse as it made more dirt all over the track. It appeared that the way forward would have been to put the mesh out and do some tyre packing but the Coventry track staff appeared to be confident with what they were doing.

Heat four saw a good win from JD but Robson locked up badly allowing the home riders to gain a share of the points. The riders in heat five appeared to be all over the place in their attempts to hold onto their racing lines. Eventually Kennett took the win in front of Lee Richardson with Allen seeing off JK, who trailed in at the back.

In heat six Sitera led and his partner Chris Harris struggled to team ride him home. The Coventry captain looked ill at ease on the track and admitted to being so on his return to the pits. More use of the 'wonder wheel' did not solve the problem although by spreading out the large amount of shale it would eventually allow it to start drying out.

Now being 12 points behind, Lakeside team manager Jon Cook did not feel confident in putting the B/W helmet colour on Piotr but the Pole shot out of the start to record the heat victory but the heat was shared with Kauko getting out of shape and dropping back at the rear of the field.

Once again, the B/W helmet was kept in Cook's pocket as there wasn't the confidence to give it to JK, who had failed to score up until this stage of the meeting. However, JK and Robson combined for a 5-1 to reduce the deficit to eight points.

Kennett and Allen then got another 5-1 for the home team to take their advantage back up to 12 points.

Cook then decided that he had to do something so out came Piotr with the B/W helmet colour. It was deemed to be a risk as the Pole was of the unfavourable inside gate. However, he shot out of the gate to claim the six points but Kauko was again at the back.

Another 5-1 to the Bees in heat 11 followed as Richardson missed the start and then pulled over with machine problems. That put us 13 points behind.

Robson replaced Mear in the next race but this move backfired as he took another tumble. Nieminen picked up his only points of the evening by holding off Ricky Wells for second place.

The Hammers used the second tactical ride when 15 points behind. Richardson wore the B/W helmet colour but it was JD who won the race with his partner unable to find a way past Harris.

The resultant 5-2 in Lakeside's favour reduced the deficit to 12 points but with only two heats to go the win was gone but there was still the possibility of salvaging one vital league point. That possibility disappeared in heat 14 when Kennett got the victory over Swiderski and Barker finished in front of Robson as the No.7 took a further tumble.

However, by this time the track had become raceable and it was a great pity that it had taken this long for the track to recover from the rain and the heavy use of the 'Wonder Wheel'.

The final race was shared, with Harris claiming his first win of the night in front of JD and Swiderski to make the final score 54-40 in favour of the home team.

This scoreline meant that Coventry took all three league points to catapult them above not only the Hammers but also Peterborough into third place in the table.

In what was a disappointing, and frustrating, night for the Hammers it meant that the Essex side have now dropped down to fifth place, although the team has now completed their away league matches and have the advantage of having a run of six home matches to come.

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