THE gap between the top end of the table and those nearer the bottom was clearly on display at Brandon as the Buildbase Bees again showed their strength to demolish Ipswich by a 35-point margin.
The Witches got off to a disastrous start, conceding 14 points in the first three heats, and never really recovered save for a couple of race wins for Robert Miskowiak.
Miskowiak had been the star man for the visitors in their last match at Brandon, and he was on form again in the early stages, but there was little in the way of back-up and from an early stage it was a case of how many the Bees would win by.
Scott Nicholls and Chris Harris both scored paid 14, dropping their only points to Miskowiak, whilst the rest of the team were all in the major points with Rory Schlein a race winner on four occasions and Billy Janniro, for once, not dominating the bonus points as he won three heats.
Janniro's one bonus came in the very first race as he and Scott Nicholls took control in the early stages, Kim Jansson forced out on the first bend and Tobias Kroner unable to make an impact. Kroner was left trailing in Heat 2 as well, although that was down to an excellent first two bends by Janniro, who took the German wide to generate plenty of space for Steve Johnston to make his way through on the inside for another Bees 5-1.
Witches skipper Chris Louis was the first visiting rider to beat an opponent when he held off Martin Smolinski for second place behind Schlein in Heat 3, and Miskowiak then out-trapped Harris in the next race and held him off until the Coventry man made a mistake on the second lap and went too wide on turn three, losing any chance of making a pass.
But a surging ride from Smolinski in Heat 5 to force Louis out exiting turn two saw him link up with Schlein for another 5-1 to leave the Witches 14-point down and already handing Miskowiak the black and white helmet cover. The Pole responded with a fine win as Nicholls moved slightly at the start, and the 6-3 stood as the Witches' only heat advantage of the night.
Bees were back in 5-1 mood in Heat 7 courtesy of Janniro and Harris as Louis found himself behind team-mate Chris Schramm - who was in for an injured Zibi Suchecki. The Witches, too, once again badly missed Jesper B Jensen, who continues to be ruled out with rib damage.
Harris was clear in Heat 8 but there was a good battle for second place with Johnston initially taking the place but Jansson re-capturing it at the end of the lap. The two were then in close competition for the rest of the race with Kroner not too far adrift either.
All eyes were on the unbeaten Schlein and Miskowiak ahead of Heat 9, but it was Smolinski who upstaged the pair with another fine ride on the first lap, and Schlein lost his third place with clutch failure on lap three, which handed Marcin Rempala his only point of the evening.
Louis was on the receiving end of another 5-1 in Heat 10 as Nicholls and Smolinski shot clear, and Harris proved that he was getting faster and faster during the meeting with a comprehensive win in Heat 11 in 58.6, with Janniro's outside blast brought to an end by Jansson, who held on to second place as Miskowiak was relegated to the back.
Schlein recovered from his mechanical trouble with a win over a more competitive Louis in Heat 12, but Bees were still extending their lead with 4-2s, and another 5-1 was just around the corner with Nicholls and Harris taking maximum points over Miskowiak and Jansson in Heat 13.
Heat 14 produced initial confusion, and then a good race, with Smolinski arriving at the tapes in a blue helmet colour - the same as team-mate Janniro. The referee allowed the race to start, and it was Schramm who made the gate, only for Janniro to blast around the field on the back straight with the four riders all close to each other. Kroner somehow made it from fourth to second off turn four, and when they moved on to the second lap, Schramm had gone to the back.
Miskowiak fell heavily at the first running of Heat 15 after contact with Nicholls going into the bend, but the referee ruled all four back, and the re-run went all in Coventry's favour courtesy of Schlein and Nicholls to take the Bees through the 60-point barrier.
They now hit the road for next week's away matches at Wolves, Poole and Ipswich after a perfect August of nine straight wins, and the total winning sequence now extends to 13 in all competitions. August was busy, September promises to be just as hectic - and the importance of the meetings increases almost by the day...but the Bees are in fine shape.
COVENTRY 64 IPSWICH 29 Friday 31st August 2007 - Sky Sports Elite League 'B'
BUILDBASE BEES Scott Nicholls 3 2 3 2* 2* = 12+2 Olly Allen R/R Rory Schlein 3 3 R 3 3 = 12 Martin Smolinski 1 2* 3 2* 1 = 9+2 Chris Harris 2 2* 3 3 3 = 13+1 Billy Janniro 2* 3 3 1 3 12+1 Steve Johnston 2* 1* 1* 1 1 = 6+3
EVENING STAR WITCHES Jesper B Jensen R/R Kim Jansson 1 0 2 2 0 = 5 Chris Louis 2 1 0 1 2 0 = 6 Chris Schramm 0 1 0 0 = 1 Robert Miskowiak 3 6^ 2 0 1 1 = 13 Marcin Rempala 0 0 1* 0 = 1+1 Tobias Kroner 0 1 0 0 2 = 3