FORMER World Speedway Champion Gary Havelock admits he his shocked by the plight of the Coventry Bees, writes Observer speedway reporter Robin Allen.
Despite racing to a 24 point victory against Peterborough Panthers at the East of England Showground on Sunday afternoon, Havelock said Bees’ absence from this year’s SGB Premiership is a tragedy.
Sunday’s fixture against the Panthers proved an emotional occasion for many Coventry fans as they watched their club’s intended one-to-seven compete for the first and only time.
The side included British Champion Danny King and former Grand Prix star Kenneth Bjerre.
Speaking to The Observer, Havelock said: “It was fantastic to see so many of the Coventry fans travel to Peterborough to support the team though, it really shows what the club means to people.
“I know it was a Championship against Premiership but it really was a good performance considering Peterborough had home advantage.
“The boys rode really well though and showed a glimpse of what could have been.
“You have got to feel sorry for the likes of James Sarjeant though – it is shocking that some riders are able to double-up, yet hes left without a club.
Speedway is a difficult sport at the best of times, but at this time of year it is really hard because riders already have plans in place for teams they will ride for, spending money on equipment and now they have not got a team. It is bad, really bad.
“The challenge meetings they have got lined up look to be tasty encounters.
“Meetings with Poole have always been fiery and I am sure the Coventry fans will travel down there in great numbers.”
Despite the early stages of the meeting being fairly even, Coventrys Premiership firepower soon took hold with back-to-back 5-1s in heats four and five.
And then a 4-2 for Bees Josh Bates and Lewi Kerr in heat eight put the visitors 10 points up, resulting in Peterborough team manager Carl Johnson putting new recruit Jack Holder on tactical ride in heat ten.
That decision did not pay off though as the Aussie finished last in a Coventry 5-1, extending their lead to 14 points.
Three heat advantages followed in the next five heats as the Bees ran out comfortable winners.
Bees next race at Monmore Green Stadium on Monday, April 10, as Wolverhampton Wolves take on the Brandon outfit in a Midlands derby challenge meeting.
To find out more about our Save Our Bees campaign, visit www.coventryobserver.co.uk.