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Hancock maximum as Bees triumph at Oxford; SPEEDWAY: SPOTLIGHT ON THE ELITE LEAGUE: Oxford ......... 39 Coventry ........ 51.

AN invincible five-ride maximum from Greg Hancock helped keep Coventry's title light flickering at Cowley last night.

Hancock, who was unbeaten by an Oxford rider when Coventry won 50-39 at Oxford in the Speedway Star Cup in June, collected a nap-hand of wins, the first four from the gate and the fifth when he passed Cheetahs star Craig Boyce in the six-lap heat 15.

Bees, intent on making amends after Wednesday's flop at King's Lynn, took the meeting by the scruff of the neck when some supersonic gating carved open a 14-point advantage inside the first six races.

They supplied the first six heat winners - Eastbourne guest David Norris collecting two of them - and looked all set to run riot.

Oxford, a team who have descended into the Elite League doldrums in recent weeks, dug deep to record successive 5-1s in heats eight and nine, but Bees always possessed that extra punch and victory was secured by a 5- 1 from Shaun Tacey and Stuart Robson in heat 14.

Tacey finished with paid 10 from four rides, but his heat two victory that launched a successful night was more than a touch fortuitous. He was attempting to correct his bike after overcooking the first turn on lap two, and his subsequent tangle with Alun Rossiter saw the Oxford man harshly excluded.

It may not have been obvious to everyone in the stadium, but from referee Frank Ebdon's vantage point at the top of the grandstand it was as clear as day - yet Ebdon still managed to get it wrong.

Ebdon, famous for some unsavoury run-ins with ex-Bees skipper Hans Nielsen, also allowed Steve Johnston to get away with almost spearing Brian Andersen in heat three, and it was to the Bees skipper's credit that he got on with the job of repassing Johnston for third place.

An impressive Scott Robson led Jan Staechmann and Todd Wiltshire for three and a half laps in heat six before the Dane stole past him, while Andersen got under Lawrence Hare on the last lap of heat seven - pressuring the Cheetahs reserve to fall - and then served up a brilliant ride to take heat 10.

He split the Oxford pairing of Wiltshire and Staechmann on the first lap, but was then trapped in between the home duo in a real scrap of a race. He finally managed to put daylight between himself and Staechmann and then got upsides of Wiltshire's right shoulder down the back straight on the final lap, finding the drive to complete a stupendous victory.

Paul Hurry, who had earlier withdrawn from the meeting after damaging knee ligaments in a fall in heat four, returned to the fray with the injury strapped up in the final five heats. He moved Stuart Robson to one side to deny Bees a 5-1 in heat 11, and then pushed Andersen close in heat 12.

But Bees had done enough in the first half of the meeting to keep Oxford at bay, and after Tacey and Robson had seen off the reckless challenge of a chasing Johnston in heat 14, Hancock and Andreas Jonsson served up the coup de grace in heat 15. The Californian caught Boyce to put the finishing touches to his full-house and Jonsson took Wiltshire at the back for third place. lo l BEES can bank another three Elite League points when they entertain Oxford at Brandon tonight. Victory would claim the aggregate bonus point after last night's success.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Berry, Mike
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 11, 1999
Words:578
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