Belle Vue’s Kyle Bickley seen here leading Coventry guest Tom Bacon and Jack Smith as the Colts get their National League title defence off to a 50-40 winning start on Good Friday.
Picture: IAN CHARLES
Latest soundbytes and fixtures from around the tracks up and down the country.
SGB PREMIERSHIP SOUNDBYTES…
“We’re two meetings into a long season and there’s a lot more to come from us. Losing Damian early on put a little more pressure on the rest than we would have liked. He had a nasty spill in his second ride and came down heavily on his left shoulder, and he had to withdraw.”
Aces boss Mark Lemon was upbeat after Charity Shield defeat to Swindon, with the club now signing Paul Starke as cover for the injured Damian Drozdz.
NEXT HOME: King’s Lynn, Mon Apr 9 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Poole, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
“We all had some input into the team and I said to Keith Chapman (club owner) when we first started discussions, I wanted to see Niels back. He is an out-and-out No.1, and I think we really missed him last year. I am really pleased he is back because he really gives you confidence going into the first race of each meeting.”
Stars boss Dale Allitt is delighted to be heading into meetings this season with Danish star Niels-Kristian Iversen back in the No.1 race-jacket.
NEXT HOME: Wolverhampton, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Belle Vue, Mon Apr 9 (7.30)
“I really like the balance of our team this year. We’ve got Martin (Vaculik) who’s a Grand Prix rider making his British league debut. We’ve got a top quality, experienced campaigner in Hans Andersen who will bring so many benefits both on and off the track. Then you look at Krystian (Pieszczek) who’s an exciting, talented young Pole and he can’t wait to get going over here either.”
New Leicester boss Simon Stead expects the three fresh faces at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena this season to help the Lions mount a strong play-off challenge.
NEXT HOME: Poole, Mon Apr 9 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Rye House, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
“Once again the bookmakers have installed us as favourites to lift the Premiership title, but we won’t look too far ahead just at the moment. We’re welcoming a very good Wolves side to Wimborne Road and they are sure to provide a stern test on our home shale.”
Pirates promoter Matt Ford expects a stern test from Wolves when the Pirates finally get to launch their Premiership campaign.
NEXT HOME: Wolverhampton, Wed Apr 4 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Leicester, Mon Apr 9 (7.30)
“Our relationship has actually come together in a very short period of time in the last few days. It began when BP Mitchell delivered all the soil we are using on a new Stadium Cross track that now sits on the centre green inside the Speedway circuit. Brendan (Mitchell) was unfamiliar at that point with Speedway, asked what it was all about and – to use the old adage – the rest is history. It all went from there.”
Promoter Steve Jenson admits the Rockets’ new sponsorship deal came about when their new backers visited the stadium on other business recently.
NEXT HOME: Leicester, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Wolverhampton, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
“It is extremely disappointing that we find ourselves having to call off another meeting. Our season hasn't got going yet. We lost our Practice session last Wednesday because of the weather and then were washed out again on Good Friday. The amount of rain that hit us over the Easter break has been incredible and the fields that we use for car-parking are under water.”
With press and practice and then two home meetings postponed, Rebels promoter Debbie Hancock is hoping for a heat-wave later this month!
NEXT HOME: Leicester, Wed Apr 18 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Leicester, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
“I know it’s only two meetings and there’s a long way to go, our feet are firmly on the ground, but there’s a great atmosphere in the team and long may it continue. We’ve got everyone not just focusing on themselves but working together, and the reserves are talking and asking questions. There are no gaps in the team, and everyone talks together.”
Robins boss Alun Rossiter was highly encouraged by the two-legged aggregate win over Belle Vue in the Charity Shield last month.
NEXT HOME: Leicester, Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Wolverhampton, Mon Apr 9 (7.30)
“It was a bit sore for us last year, the way we lost the Final, but that’s speedway, that’s part and parcel of it and now we want to get that title back. We move on to a new season, but we won’t forget how the end of last season felt when we’re trying to finish top and ultimately win the league.”
Wolves star Kyle Howarth admits the disappointment of narrowly losing last season’s Premiership Grand Final to Swindon will be a motivating factor for the Monmore side this year.
NEXT HOME: Swindon, Mon Apr 9 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Poole, Wed Apr 4 (7.30)
SGB CHAMPIONSHIP SOUNDBYTES…
“It’s very easy to get side-tracked and forget what you originally set out to achieve in the very first place and that is exactly where we have drawn our inspiration from for 2018. Myself and brother Jamie have committed to a balanced looking side with lots of room for progress and a real camaraderie amongst the boys in the camp.”
Co-promoter Scott Courtney feels improvement and team spirit will be key factors to lifting the Bandits up the Championship table this year.
NEXT HOME: Edinburgh (CS), Sat Apr 7 (7pm)
NEXT AWAY: Glasgow (CS), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
“I’m over the moon with my personal performance tonight and this tie is far from over. If they can beat us by ten points then we can beat them by ten points at Armadale. Nothing is done till it’s done and I expect us to bounce back.”
New Monarchs signing Matt Williamson was pleased with his debut at Glasgow, and believes the Scottish Cup is still up for grabs with ten points between the sides.
NEXT HOME: Monarchs Champions (Ch), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Berwick (CS), Sat Apr 7 (7pm)
“I'm really looking forward to the challenge. We've got a good backroom team in place and a chain of people to help at all levels. Nothing has really changed, we're still going with the same plan. But the club comes first and that's the most important thing for me. I want the club to have the success it deserves, and the fans deserve.”
New Tigers boss Cami Brown says the gameplan remains the same after his shock elevation to the managerial hot-seat following the departure of Stewart Dickson.
NEXT HOME: Workington (CS), Fri Apr 6 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Workington (CS), Sat Apr 7 (7pm)
“When you return from injury like Nico and Danyon are doing, the problem is more the time off the bike rather than being worried about being injured again, as that is part of the sport. I have a lot of experience in that and it was never the injury that affected me, it was the time off the bike and being confident and relaxed and knowing how everything is.”
Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins says there will be no psychological barriers for Nico Covatti and Danyon Hume to overcome as they return from long-term injuries this season.
NEXT HOME: Peterborough (CS), Thur Apr 5 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Lakeside (KOC), Fri May 5 (8pm)
“It's a good result considering we were 12 points down at one point and we could have even come away with a win but for a couple of moments of ill fortune. Nick did a great job considering he wasn't feeling very well today. He's a great rider to have leading the team.”
Hammers boss Will Pottinger was satisfied with a point from their Championship Shield opener at Peterborough with No.1 Nick Morris battling through illness to secure some vital race wins.
NEXT HOME: Peterborough (CS), Fri Apr 6 (8pm)
NEXT AWAY: Berwick, Sat Apr 28 (7pm)
“Amazingly for us, Lewis has placed his Polish racing on ice with the aim of helping his old club out of a deep hole and for that we as a club will be eternally grateful. He basically fully understood our issues, appreciates this is a new promotion and a new era at Newcastle Speedway and was eager to help with the new venture, just when we needed him.”
Co-promoter Martin Phillips praises returning Diamond Lewis Rose, who became the club’s final signing for 2018 on the eve of the new campaign.
NEXT HOME: British U21 Semi-Final, Sun Apr 8 (6.30)
NEXT AWAY: Sheffield (CS), Thur Apr 5 (7.30)
“We’re in a group with three very different tracks, including Lakeside, and we need to put ourselves in a position where we’re going into the away matches with confidence. There’s still plenty of improvement to come from us, and it will take a few meetings to find out exactly where we are, but certainly the early signs were encouraging.”
Panthers boss Carl Johnson was pleased with an opening-night home win over Lakeside to put three points on the board in their Championship Shield group.
NEXT HOME: Redcar, Sun Apr 15 (5pm)
NEXT AWAY: Ipswich (CS), Thur Apr 5 (7.30)
“I’m pleased to be at Redcar for this season, it looks like such a great club and awesome track, I have heard from a lot of people that it is a awesome club. My plan for the UK this year is to just enjoy it, it’s my first year so there will be some setting up, getting to know all the tracks and everything else, I’m going to put in 110 per cent this year and hopefully we get the result we want. I’m looking forward to it.”
Bears newcomer Jordan Stewart is looking forward to making his UK speedway debut this season at the Media Prima Arena.
NEXT HOME: Julie Lewis Memorial, Thur Apr 5 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Scunthorpe (CS), Fri Apr 6 (7.30)
“We do have plenty of strength down the whole side. There’s always an element of luck, but I believe we will be there-or-thereabouts when it comes to all the major silverware. The league, the KO Cup, the Championship Shield, the Fours - we want to be in contention in all of them and see what we can win.”
A new season brings new expectations, and Scorpions boss Dave Peet is excited by the heavily revised line-up for the Lincolnshire club this year.
NEXT HOME: Redcar (CS), Fri Apr 6 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Redcar (CS), Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
“We are delighted to have Kyle back on board for another season and I'm sure our supporters are too. A lot has been made about the move but we would like to thank Workington for their co-operation and personally I am genuinely delighted. I would go as far a to say I believe Kyle is probably the best signing I have made in my time as a promoter.”
Tigers chief Damian Bates was delighted to secure the services of captain Kyle Howarth for the Championship title defence at Owlerton this season.
NEXT HOME: Newcastle (CS), Thur Apr 5 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Scunthorpe (CS), Fri Apr 20 (7.30)
“It makes perfect sense as I was impressed with his support for his team-mates last season and he certainly has the experience. He also has the drive to motivate his team-mates and crucially to ensure that the two youngest guys in the side get the support they need.”
Comets owner Laura Morgan feels experienced Australian Ty Proctor is the perfect choice to captain the Derwent Park side this season.
NEXT HOME: Glasgow (CS), Sat Apr 7 (7pm)
NEXT AWAY: Glasgow (CS), Fri Apr 6 (7.30)
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUNDBYTES…
BELLE VUE COLTS
“Things were very slick this afternoon, and a combination of the sun and wind was drying it out quicker and creating patchy areas, so it was a real challenge for both teams to overcome. But overall I was very happy with our performance. The first meeting is always a tough one.”
Colts skipper Jack Smith led his side to a 50-40 opening win over Coventry with a 14-point haul from five rides.
NEXT HOME: Buxton, Fri Apr 20 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Isle of Wight, Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
“I thought the way the team applied themselves was excellent and there is plenty to look forward to from this group of riders - especially when conditions aren't as tricky! Our win would have been by more had we not conceded two 5-1s in the final two races, but we'll take a 15-point win and there's plenty to build on from here."
Manager Laurence Rogers was more than satisfied with a 52-37 Challenge match win over his old club Coventry in the Brummies’ season-opener.
NEXT HOME: Kent (EC), Wed Apr 4 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Stoke (NT), Sat Apr 21 (7pm)
“Corban has a hard role to start with but he knows our expectations of him and he is keen to get going which is refreshing, as other experienced riders were not keen and had placed obstacles in their own way. But both Corban and his family are keen and that’s all we can ask for.”
Hitmen chief Josh Moss praises the attitude of newcomer Corban Pavitt, who became their final signing for the 2018 season last month.
NEXT HOME: Stoke (NT), Sun Apr 15 (3pm)
NEXT AWAY: Eastbourne, Sat Apr 14 (7.30)
“Once the fixtures got released with Ipswich I knew I’d need some more meetings, and I’m pleased to take the opportunity. I actually spoke to Mick (Horton) over the winter when Coventry announced they were going into the National League, to see if they could fit me in.”
New Bees No.1 Connor Mountain jumped at the chance of joining the Bees when they required a replacement for previous signing Jack Parkinson-Blackburn on the eve of the season.
NEXT HOME: Stoke (NT), Sun Apr 8 (3pm)
NEXT AWAY: Stoke (NT), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
“Everyone is champing at the bit to get racing. Of course, we will be aiming to go one better than we have in the last three seasons and that’s to convert those second place league finishes in 2015, 2016 and 2017 into the title this year.”
Eagles boss Connor Dugard is keen to see the Arlington side shed their ‘nearly-men’ tag after coming so close to National League glory in recent seasons.
NEXT HOME: British U21 Semi-Final, Sat Apr 7 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Plymouth (NT), Fri Apr 13 (7.15)
ISLE OF WIGHT
“This will be the third year that we have staged this individual meeting to launch our season and I cannot wait to see the meeting unfold. It is going to be a close contest with some very talented riders taking part. A perfect way to remember Vince who so loved the speedway on the Isle of Wight.”
Co-promoter Barry Bishop is looking forward to launching the season by paying tribute to Vince Mapley on April 5.
NEXT HOME: Vince Mapley Memorial Trophy, Thur Apr 5 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Mildenhall (NT), Sun Apr 8 (3pm)
“Our job has been to get the two of them up to speed as quickly as possible, and to see them taking on board and listening intently to the advice being given by our skipper Luke (Bowen) and the now experienced beyond his own teenaged years, Jack Thomas was excellent to see and, by the end of the day, the improvement to them both was quite remarkable.”
Kings promoter Len Silver was encouraged at the club’s press and practice by the early signs of improvement from new reserve duo Alex Spooner and Jacob Clouting.
NEXT HOME: Kent All Time Greats (Ch), Mon Apr 30 (6.30)
NEXT AWAY: Birmingham (EC), Wed Apr 4 (7.30)
“As a club we have had our best winter yet, the club is now set up just how I want it to be and everything is extremely positive and optimistic. I truly am excited by the possibilities this year as there is so much potential in this septet and I cannot wait for the season to start.”
The Fen Tigers have been installed as National League title favourites, and promoter Kevin Jolly is eager to see them live up to that billing on-track.
NEXT HOME: Isle of Wight (NT), Sun Apr 8 (3pm)
NEXT AWAY: Isle of Wight (NT), Thur May 3 (7pm)
“It’s great to have a good solid No.1 who can lead by example. This league is about developing talent and the experience Adam has gained during his career makes him an ideal role model.”
Promoter Mark Phillips confirms the retention of No.1 Adam Roynon was a top priority for the re-structured Devils management this season.
NEXT HOME: Kent (NT), Fri Apr 6 (7.15)
NEXT AWAY: Mildenhall (NT), Sun Apr 15 (3pm)
“We want to make sure the track is in good condition and we do not want to mess riders or supporters about, and we therefore decided it is better to make an early decision and make sure things are right from the start. Hopefully the weather will also have started to warm up by then.”
Promoter Dave Tattum explains the decision to put back the Pride of the Potteries until later in the season, and instead open the home campaign on April 14.
NEXT HOME: Coventry (NT), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
NEXT AWAY: Coventry (NT), Sun Apr 8 (3pm)
MAJOR EVENTS LATEST…
THE Great Britain national Speedway Team is setting its sights sky-high under a brand new management structure.
The rebranded Great Britain Speedway Team has been taken over by VRX Motorsport, led by Rob Painter and Vicky Blackwell, who have set up a dedicated team focused solely on making the national side the most accomplished and professional outfit in World Speedway.
After months of negotiations, an agreement has been struck which will give VRX control of the national team set-up, and they have worked tirelessly for months to put together a team of people who will work towards the ultimate goal of re-establishing the Great Britain Team as a Speedway powerhouse.
Painter, who also founded the highly-professional Revolution Speedway Team, is delighted to put pen to paper and can’t wait to get started.
He said: “This is something that VRX have been working on for over a year now and we are so excited to have the opportunity to elevate the Great Britain Speedway Team to a new level.
“We have put together a management team who we know have a lot to offer, from fitness and nutrition experts to PR and marketing professionals, and we are confident that together we can achieve something very special.
“We have visited some of the biggest national bodies in the UK, including the Team GB Olympics headquarters in London, and we know what is required to make our national team the best in the World, not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of professionalism.
“We want to create a culture of pride and unity, we want riders to be desperate to race for their country and to look forward to putting the Union Flag kevlars on, and we have so many things in the pipeline to achieve that.
“We are brimming with ideas and we really hope that everyone gets behind the team as we look to re-establish Great Britain as a real force in World Speedway.”
Keith Chapman, Chairman of the British Speedway Promoters’ Association, is equally pleased to have struck a deal that will see the national team given a new lease of life, saying: “We are pleased to present the opportunity for the Great Britain national side to gain new ideas and a fresh approach.
“Everyone within the British Speedway Promoters’ Association would like to wish Great Britain well in the season ahead and we will be supporting the guys throughout.”
Further information regarding the Great Britain Speedway Team will be released in the coming weeks.
BRITISH SPEEDWAY MAJOR EVENTS 2018
PREMIERSHIP RIDERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP: Poole, May 9
BRITISH FINAL: Belle Vue, June 11
CHAMPIONSHIP FOURS: Redcar, July 1
CHAMPIONSHIP PAIRS: Somerset, July 20
CHAMPIONSHIP RIDERS’ INDIVIDUAL: Sheffield, September 2
PREMIERSHIP PAIRS: TBC
OTHER NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP DATES
BRITISH UNDER-21 SEMI-FINALS: Eastbourne, April 7; Newcastle, April 8
BRITISH UNDER-21 FINAL: Birmingham, Date TBC
BRITISH UNDER-19 FINAL: Ipswich, May 17
BRITISH SEMI-FINALS: Sheffield, May 10; Leicester, May 14
NATIONAL LEAGUE EVENTS
NATIONAL LEAGUE FOURS: Coventry, June 24
NATIONAL LEAGUE RIDERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP: Leicester, September 23
WEDNESDAY APRIL 4:
PREMIERSHIP: Poole v Wolverhampton 7.30, Somerset v Rye House OFF
PREMIERSHIP KO CUP Q/F 1st leg: King’s Lynn v Leicester OFF (Now May 16)
EASTER CUP 2nd leg: Birmingham v Kent 7.30
THURSDAY APRIL 5:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Ipswich v Peterborough 7.30, Sheffield v Newcastle 7.30
JULIE LEWIS MEMORIAL: Redcar 7.30
VINCE MAPLEY MEMORIAL TROPHY: Isle of Wight 7pm
FRIDAY APRIL 6:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Glasgow v Workington 7.30, Lakeside v Peterborough 8pm, Scunthorpe v Redcar 7.30
NATIONAL TROPHY: Plymouth v Kent 7.15
70TH ANNIVERSARY CHALLENGE: Edinburgh v Monarchs Champions 7.30
SATURDAY APRIL 7:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Berwick v Edinburgh 7pm, Workington v Glasgow 7pm
BRITISH UNDER-21 SEMI-FINAL: Eastbourne 7.30
SUNDAY APRIL 8:
BRITISH UNDER-21 SEMI-FINAL: Newcastle 6.30
NATIONAL TROPHY: Coventry v Stoke 3pm, Mildenhall v Isle of Wight 3pm
MONDAY APRIL 9:
PREMIERSHIP: Belle Vue v King’s Lynn 7.30, Leicester v Poole 7.30, Wolverhampton v Swindon 7.30
WEDNESDAY APRIL 11:
PREMIERSHIP: King’s Lynn v Wolverhampton 7.30, Poole v Belle Vue 7.30, Rye House v Leicester 7.30
NATIONAL TROPHY: Birmingham v Stoke 7.30
THURSDAY APRIL 12:
PREMIERSHIP: Swindon v Leicester 7.30
CHAMPIONSHIP: Sheffield v Peterborough 7.30
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Redcar v Scunthorpe 7.30
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Isle of Wight v Belle Vue 7pm
FRIDAY APRIL 13:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Edinburgh v Workington 7.30, Glasgow v Berwick 7.30, Scunthorpe v Newcastle 7.30
NATIONAL TROPHY: Plymouth v Eastbourne 7.15
SATURDAY APRIL 14:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Berwick v Glasgow 7pm, Workington v Edinburgh 7pm
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Eastbourne v Buxton 7.30
NATIONAL TROPHY: Stoke v Coventry 7pm
SUNDAY APRIL 15:
CHAMPIONSHIP: Peterborough v Redcar 5pm
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Newcastle v Scunthorpe 6.30
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Coventry v Eastbourne 3pm
NATIONAL TROPHY: Buxton v Stoke 3pm, Mildenhall v Plymouth 3pm
MONDAY APRIL 16:
PREMIERSHIP: Belle Vue v Poole 7.30, Leicester v Somerset 7.30, Wolverhampton v Rye House 7.30
WEDNESDAY APRIL 18:
PREMIERSHIP: King’s Lynn v Belle Vue 7.30, Poole v Swindon 7.30, Somerset v Leicester 7.30