CLUB NEWS: Coventry lose in thrilling climax

Coventry Cycle Speedway team led for most of a thrilling encounter before narrowly going down 94-86 to old rivals Leicester in the Midland League last Sunday afternoon.

In one of the most entertaining matches seen at the banked Herasall Common track since racing was revived in 2012, a youthful Coventry side held on under relentless Leicester pressure until the final two heats.

After Mason Phillips, looking assured in his new heat leader role, had easily taken heat 1, with partner Dan Drewett riding a clever tactical race to take third, Coventry edged into a narrow lead.

Popular Polish rider Dominik Rycharski, returning from a hand operation, produced the fireworks in heat 2 with several spectacular overtaking moves which saw race positions change on each lap. He eventually took the chequered flag to loud applause.

Rycharski`s heroics seemed to fire Coventry`s younger riders and more top class racing followed as Coventry held onto a narrow lead, with teenagers Jake Slatter, Matt Hambidge and Jimmy Wassall all getting amongst the point scorers.

Coventry's Matt Lawrence made several entertaining passes. Photo by Ray Andrews.

Coventry’s Matt Lawrence made several entertaining passes. Photo by Ray Andrews.

Long serving club stalwart Matthew Lawrence also figured in several thrilling races, with the 28-year-old producing several classic overtaking passes to keep Coventry in the lead. By the half way point – heat 9 – Coventry led by 46-44.

Leicester, fielding a far more experienced team, hit back in heat 11 when former three times world champion – and former Coventry man – Dave Hemsley took his third win of the day.

A controversial exclusion to Leicester in heat 12 was overturned after appeal by the Leicester team manager – a crucial moment as Leicester convincingly won the re-run ahead of Coventry’s hard chasing Phillips.

This presented Leicester with the lead for the first time in an absorbing match and the more experienced visitors closed out the remaining heats under constant Coventry pressure to take the Midland League points.

In the final analysis, Coventry just lacked the higher end scoring that one of their missing riders would have given them. Talisman Myke Grimes once again led the Coventry score chart, with Rycharski, Drewett, Phillips and Lawrence supporting well.

Coventry points scorers:

Myke Grimes 17, Dominik Rycharski 17, Mason Phillips 14, Dan Drewett 12, Matthew Lawrence 11, Jimmy Wassall 6, Matt Hambidge 6 and Jake Slatter 4.

Coventry face a busy May Bank Holiday weekend when they travel to the well-appointed East Park track in Wolverhampton on Bank Holiday Monday to take part in the British Club Finals.

Ray Oliver. Photo by George Swanson.

Ray Oliver. Photo by George Swanson.

Coventry spring a shock by including ex world champion Ray Oliver in their senior team. Oliver won the world final in 1988 in Adelaide, South Australia – the only Coventry rider to have won the world crown in the history of the sport.


Brandon Bees Cycle Speedway club have programmed an extra fixture on Tuesday 5th July when they present the Clubman’s Trophy. It will be a 16 rider individual event and the club have invited the following riders:

Steve Hodgkinson (Birmingham), Josh Hill (East Park), Paul Timms (Birmingham), John Whetton (East Park), Alex Aris (Wednesfield), Ollie Morris (Coventry), Matt Hambidge (Coventry), Norman Venson (Leicester), Shaun Reynolds (Coventry), Josh Marsh (Coventry), Dave Frith (Leicester), Joe McLaughlin (Coventry), Paul Matthews (Swindon), Steve Mullinder (Wednesfield), Josh White (East Park) and Dan Drewett (Coventry).

The next home match at Hearsall Common is Sunday 5th June, when Coventry host East Park in the Midland League. This is followed by Coventry V Horspath (Oxford) in the Elite league on Sunday 12th June. Both matches start at 2pm.