MATCH REPORT: Fireworks at Hearsall Common as Coventry take third victory

Coventry XL Motors Sabres took their third win of the season against Leicester on Sunday, their best start for some years in the Midland League.

The match threatened to fall foul of a heavy downpour over night, leaving the track completely saturated. But a team of volunteers managed to deliver an excellent race surface that held up well all day.

The match itself started in fine style, with Coventry’s Mike Baldock doing battle with former world champion, Dave Hemsley in heat one. A trademark Hemsley pass was undone by Baldock a few laps later, who got his own back and set the tone for the racing ahead.

A tape exclusion for Sam Hardie in heat 2 left Grimes alone on grid four against Mark Whitehead and Norman Venson, but the British Champion was in electric form and jetted from the tapes to reduce the damage for the home side.

On paper, Coventry had the edge over their visitors, who were notably missing Dave Frith, Kev Burns and Damian Pelacyzk, some costly mistakes, mostly due to nerves, meant that Leicester edged to a one point lead until heat 9 where it all went wrong for the Monarchs.

Firstly, Bartosz Pelacyzk was excluded for signalling he wasn’t ready while under orders. Mark Whitehead protested the decision to referee Josh Marsh, who eventually red carded the Leicester rider for foul and abusive language. A resulting 7-0 for the home side saw Coventry leap in front at the break.

Coventry took no prisoners in the second half, with the unstoppable Grimes completing a paid maximum, along with comeback man Dominik Rycharski from the reserve berth.

Leicester had their own 7-0 in heat 13 though, as Jim Bailey hit the deck hard challenging Craig Whitehead. Cameron Gill then left Whitehead no room just before the race was stopped as the riders approached stricken Bailey, leaving Hemsley and Whitehead to complete one-lap to claim the points.

From then on, Coventry hit some big scores to see out the meeting, which was sadly over shadowed by the bad blood in the pits. Five 7-2s and two 6-4s in the second half saw the Sabres grow in confidence and take their first win over the Monarchs for 4 or 5 years.

Kyle Barlow 14, Mike Baldock 16+1, Myke Grimes 18+2, Sam Hardie 8+1, Cameron Gill 11+1, Jim Bailey 7+1, Dom Rycharksi 13+3, Matt Lawernce 11+1

LEICESTER 66 (70-4)
Craig Whitehead 12+3, Dave Hemsley 17, Mark Whitehead 7 (red card), Norman Venson 12+2, Craig Marchant 7+1, Luke Whitehead 8, Bartosz Pelacyzk 3, Max Wells 4

The ML1 match certainly provided some good entertainment, but the ML2 took it up another level, with Coventry winning a hard fought match by 3 points.

Not doubling up any riders for the 4th match in a row, the Sabres went behind early on as Leicester managed to pull a 7 point lead over their hosts by heat 4.

Tom Savage – who made an outrageously good pass on the outside of turns 3 and 4 in his previous outing – and Owen Gregory, hit back with their own 7-3, before Sammi Marsh and Lee Gregory put Coventry in the lead with a well crafted maximum over Women’s GB pairing Michelle Whitehead and Lizzie Rigley. Marsh especially reaping the rewards of a more focused approach to training recently.

ML2 action by Marc Gilpin

The lead was short lived though, as Leicester regained the lead in the following race, with Max Wells and Honey Whitehead racing to a smart 7-3.

Two shared heats followed before a 6-4 to the Sabres, which could have been a 7-3 but for a lovely final bend and race to the line by the impressive Kyle Wells, who took second from Lee Gregory.

Dan Drewett helped Josh Walters to victory to see the Sabres move three points ahead with two heats remaining. Owen Gregory and Dan Drewett raced away to victory and bring home the points for Coventry in a highly entertaining fixture.

Dan Drewett 19+1, Josh Walters 7, Tom Savage 16, Owen Gregory 10+2, Lee Gregory 8+3, Sammi Marsh 11, Jack Reynolds 3, Jonny Middleton 2

Michelle Whitehead 10+4, Elizabeth Rigley 13+2, Chloe Whitehead 10+1, Max Wells 9+2, Kyle Wells 8+1, Honey Whitehead 7, Sophie Sinclair-Black 10, Bartosz Pelacyzk 3

The Midland League 3 match was moved to the end of the day to give the track chance to dry out.

Another all-out battle between the two sides concluded with Leicester taking the win by 44.5 points to 35.5.

The 0.5 points were awarded in heat 5, when Tom Pearson raced Charmaine Wells to the line, with referee Myke Grimes unable to split the pair and declared it a dead heat.

ML3 action by Marc Gilpin

Kyle Wells raced unbeaten for the Monarchs, with Liam Wells also scoring a solid 12 points. Sian Raynor and Charmaine Wells provided solid back up for the Wells boys, with Kyle Wells and Raynor inflicting the most damage on the young Sabres.

Lewis Middleton delivered a typical team-man performance and scored one of the Sabres two wins, with Chester Gilpin taking the other.

Lewis Middleton 9+1, Jude Wilcockson 6, Autumn Smith 6, Tom Pearson 5.5+1, Alex Cunningham 3, Chester Gilpin 6

Kyle Wells 14+1, Sian Raynor 11, Charmaine Wells 7.5, Liam Wells 12