COVENTRY supporters descended upon Beaumont Park in big numbers to see their team race in Sunday’s East Midlands Bowl clash with Leicester.
The Lions ran out winners 50-43 on the day, but there were still plenty of high spots for visiting fans starved of seeing their own team in action during much of 2017.
There were race wins for four of the club’s former stars, with skipper Scott Nicholls and Rory Schlein rolling back the years to the glory days of 2007 whilst Hans Andersen - a member of the team which reached the Elite League Grand Final three years ago – turned in a highly impressive display, and his 2014 team-mate Kenneth Hansen also grabbed a victory.
The match itself was effectively won and lost inside the first five races, with a fast-gating show from the Lions seeing them move into a 20-10 lead.
Coventry had conceded 5-1s in the first two races and their sole early success came from Andersen in Heat 3, before Schlein split Danny King and Kyle Newman in Heat 4 to prevent another maximum reverse.
Schlein then defeated home No.1 Kim Nilsson in Heat 6 which left Bees ten points down with returning boss Peter Oakes nominating Andersen for a tactical ride in the next race.
The move worked to almost perfection with Andersen producing a terrific second-bend switch to edge inside Danny King, and he was joined for a time by Hansen until King later regained second spot.
Leicester hit back with a 5-1 in Heat 8 although reserve Rob Shuttleworth was unfortunate to be edged out on the line by Josh Bates after a brave bid to also get the better of Newman.
Andersen saw his winning run ended by a good ride by Nilsson in Heat 10 as the Swede hit the front exiting the last turn – but the race of the day came next with Nicholls and King wheel-to-wheel and Nicholls charging hard down the inside to take a super victory.
Bees then gained points from some Leicester breakdowns as Newman retired from third place in Heat 12 and Nilsson from second in Heat 13 – the latter allowing Nicholls to join up with Schlein for a 5-1 to reduce the gap back to seven.
At that point, proceedings were interrupted as a warm afternoon gave way to sudden heavy rain, and a track inspection was required after the downpour.
Both teams agreed to continue in far from ideal conditions, as if the match had been abandoned at that point it would also have meant a wasted journey for several British Youth riders competing in the second half.
Hansen gained a deserved win in a slippery Heat 14, although the Lions were content to pack the places to secure the win on the day, before King this time got the better of a thrusting Nicholls in Heat 15 which was another good race given the conditions.
Our thanks to all of the riders involved for representing the club with such spirit, to Peter Oakes and Colin Pratt, to Leicester Speedway for making the event possible – and most of all to the supporters who turned out in such numbers to again show we are not going away simply because we have no stadium at present.
LEICESTER 50: Danny King 14, Kim Nilsson 10, Josh Bates 7+3, Lasse Bjerre 7+1, Kyle Newman 7, Jan Graversen 5+2, Pawel Przedpelski r/r. COVENTRY 43: Hans Andersen 14, Rory Schlein 11+1, Scott Nicholls 10+1, Kenneth Hansen 5, Joe Jacobs 2, Rob Shuttleworth 1, Adam Roynon 0.