Coventry’s Connor Mountain seen here leading Max Clegg in Sunday’s 52-38 National Trophy victory against Stoke.
Picture: STEVE HONE
HERE'S our latest soundbytes and fixtures from around the tracks up and down the country.
“I wanted to ride full-time in the Premiership this year but that hasn’t happened so far, so I want to do all I can to put in some big points for the Aces to repay their confidence in me.”
New signing Paul Starke is keen to make an impression as he comes into the team as a replacement for the injured Damian Drozdz.
NEXT HOME: Poole, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Poole, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
“I can’t wait to get started with King’s Lynn, we’ve had a really good build-up to the new season and now all we need is to get some meetings under our belt.”
Vice-captain Ty Proctor is delighted with the Stars’ pre-season preparation and is now keen to get racing.
NEXT HOME: Wolverhampton, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Swindon, Thur Apr 19 (7.30)
“I know there’s a lot of racing to be done and anything can happen during the season, but we look good and I believe if we all click we have a chance of challenging for the title. We’ve got strength in every department and if we all ride to our true ability then we’ll be hard to beat.”
Lions captain Danny King feels his side have every chance of going from bottom to top in the space of a year, following their wooden spoon finish of 2017.
NEXT HOME: Somerset, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Rye House, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
“This is a meeting for the people of Poole - a community meeting. I hope everyone will come along, either to watch speedway for the first time, or as an old friend.”
Promoter Matt Ford announces plans to revive the Yarmouth Bloaters name for the Pirates’ 70th birthday meeting on April 26.
NEXT HOME: Belle Vue, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Belle Vue, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
“I missed out on a team spot in the Premiership last year, and I feel I really lost out by not having a doubling-up role and the full racing calendar that brings. It is something I really want to make up for this time around.”
Aaron Summers was delighted to take up the offer of a team place with the Rockets on the eve of the season, replacing their initially planned signing of Ben Barker.
NEXT HOME: Leicester, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Wolverhampton, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
“Thanks for all the well wishes! Good news! Just a little slide off! Nothing broken. On way home from hospital!”
World Champion Jason Doyle plays down a lucky escape following a major crash in Poland when riding for Torun last Sunday.
NEXT HOME: Leicester, Wed Apr 18 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Leicester, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
“All the boys have been invited, even those who didn’t ride for us last season, because we are a team. It’s a nice way for the achievement to be recognised and we thank the Mayor for her very kind invitation and look forward to meeting her.”
Alun Rossiter’s side are set for civic recognition to mark their achievement in winning last season’s Premiership title.
NEXT HOME: Leicester, Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Poole, Wed Apr 18 (7.30)
“We nearly did two years in a row, but everyone knows why we didn’t win last year. We didn’t have our full strength side and we had so much bad luck with injuries. Losing it the way we did gives us a bit of fire in our belly to try and do it this year and show where the trophy belongs.”
Sam Masters sums up the motivation in the Wolverhampton camp after fate conspired against them in the closing stages of the 2017 campaign.
NEXT HOME: Rye House, Mon Apr 16 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: King’s Lynn, Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
“We have talent, spirit and chemistry in the side and I can put my hand on my heart and say, in all my years I never thought such a great bunch of guys could be captured in one team at the same time.”
Bandits boss Scott Courtney says the club are well-placed to make progression this year as the new promotion enters its second season.
NEXT HOME: Glasgow (CS), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
NEXT AWAY: Glasgow (CS), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
“My front wheel nut came off and the bike straightened on the bend! I was very happy to get off the bike. No real damage.”
Awkward moment for Monarchs skipper Erik Riss in the club’s opening Challenge match at Armadale last Friday.
NEXT HOME: Workington (CS), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Workington (CS), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
“Cami will step up to the plate and I know he’ll give it 110 per cent. He’s Tigers through and through. We’ve just got to get on with it. I know Cami will be there for us and we know what we’ve got to do anyway – get those wins and make the play-offs.”
Tigers reserve James Sarjeant says the riders are backing new boss Cami Brown as he steps in following the departure of Stewart Dickson.
NEXT HOME: Berwick (CS), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Berwick (CS), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
“As far as the group is concerned it leaves us in a terrible position with a massive mountain to climb in the three meetings that remain. In that sense it is a massive ask and we will have to see how it goes. The league and the play-offs remain our focus but we need to do well in this competition to get the fixtures.”
Not the best of starts for the Witches with a home defeat to Peterborough, and boss Ritchie Hawkins knows they now face an uphill battle in the Championship Shield.
NEXT HOME: Lakeside (CS), Sat Apr 21 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Lakeside (CS), Fri Apr 13 (8pm)
“We managed to slowly pull away during the second half of the meeting, which showed good character from the riders. Denying the Panthers any points could be vital at the end of the day when it comes to qualifying for the semi-finals of this competition, so we’re pleased with the result.”
Hammers boss Will Pottinger knew a win by more than six points over Peterborough at Purfleet was essential to remain in the frame for Championship Shield qualification.
NEXT HOME: Ipswich (CS), Fri Apr 13 (8pm)
NEXT AWAY: Ipswich (CS), Sat Apr 21 (7.30)
“It’s raw early days for us at the moment, but there were good positives to see with Matty Wethers putting in some good laps along with Ashley Morris and Carl Wilkinson - our early heat winner. To have to come to Sheffield as our first outing of a new season, in official competition is the hardest option we could have had.”
Diamonds boss George English looks on the bright side after a 59-31 defeat at Sheffield in their opening Championship Shield fixture.
NEXT HOME: Scunthorpe (CS), Sun Apr 15 (6.30)
NEXT AWAY: Scunthorpe (CS), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
“We’re absolutely over the moon. Our attitude was absolutely right from the word go, and the boys worked hard and pulled together to get the result we deserved in the end.”
Panthers boss Carl Johnson hails an impressive display from his side to win 46-44 at Ipswich and seize the initiative in their Championship Shield group.
NEXT HOME: Redcar, Sun Apr 15 (5pm)
NEXT AWAY: Sheffield, Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
“My ambition this season is to keep improving my average and maybe get up to a heat-leader, and even ride in the bigger league.”
Bears newcomer Mikkel B Andersen has set his targets as he goes into his debut campaign in British Speedway.
NEXT HOME: Scunthorpe (CS), Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Peterborough, Sun Apr 15 (5pm)
“We believed we had a great team and they went out there and proved that we do have one. That was so great to see but then that happens in Heat 10. Stevie is not just the best rider in the league, but he is an amazing captain. He has done so much to help generate the tremendous team spirit we have, and I’m just so gutted for him.”
Scorpions promoter Rob Godfrey reacts to the broken leg suffered by skipper Steve Worrall in the season-opening home win over Redcar.
NEXT HOME: Newcastle (CS), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Redcar (CS), Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
“I couldn't have asked for much more from the boys tonight. Right from Heat 1 they were up for it, they were focussed on getting off to a winning start and I have to say, the togetherness between the boys already was really impressive.”
A strong opening performance from Sheffield with a 59-31 win over Newcastle has boss Simon Stead more than satisfied.
NEXT HOME: Peterborough, Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Scunthorpe (CS), Fri Apr 20 (7.30)
“This is a cruel blow for Mason and for the team; and naturally he is devastated about it. We have gone for a ‘strength in depth’ approach to our team building this season and, as the highest averaged reserve in the league, Mason was set to be our trump card.”
Comets owner Laura Morgan delivers the bad news that key reserve Mason Campton suffered a broken wrist in a practice fall at Leicester last weekend.
NEXT HOME: Edinburgh (CS), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
NEXT AWAY: Edinburgh (CS), Fri Apr 13 (7.30)
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUNDBYTES…
BELLE VUE COLTS
“Being announced as captain is a new challenge for me and I am happy to take it on and progress the team forward. Riding for the Aces last year I took away a lot of experience and advice, so I feel I can bring this to the team.”
Colts skipper Jack Smith is taking his new role seriously as the Manchester side look to plot their National League title defence.
NEXT HOME: Buxton, Fri Apr 20 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Isle of Wight, Thur Apr 12 (7.30)
“I started off strongly last season, but that was at reserve whereas this was in the main body of the team at No.2. So it was an amazing way to start the season for me, and now I just need to carry it on.”
Brummies rider Layne Cupitt was delighted to get 2018 underway with a paid-12 haul in the Challenge match win over Coventry last month.
NEXT HOME: Stoke (NT), Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Stoke (NT), Sat Apr 21 (7pm)
“Tom was captain here last season and he really enjoyed the role and grew into it. We have spoken spoke as a team about possible options for the new campaign, but overall we feel that Tom is the right man for the role.”
Hitmen boss Josh Moss confirms Tom Woolley will retain the club captaincy this season with a much-changed team around him in 2018.
NEXT HOME: Stoke (NT), Sun Apr 15 (3pm)
NEXT AWAY: Eastbourne, Sat Apr 14 (7.30)
“Jon was great out of the starts today and I’m sure there’s nobody more relieved than him, because he can put the chequebook away for the time being! He’s had a lot of bad luck, but he was great today.”
Boss Martyn Macdonald praised skipper Jon Armstrong after an 11-point haul to put mechanical problems behind him in the weekend win over Stoke.
NEXT HOME: Eastbourne, Sun Apr 15 (3pm)
NEXT AWAY: Stoke (NT), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
“It was probably going to be one of the best financial meetings of the year if we had had good weather and two good teams going at each other. It’s a fixture that covers our bills for the winter.”
Eagles boss Connor Dugard counts the cost of their Easter rain-off against Kent. The Arlington season finally got underway with the British U21 semi-final last weekend.
NEXT HOME: Buxton, Sat Apr 14 (7.30)
NEXT AWAY: Plymouth (NT), Fri Apr 13 (7.15)
ISLE OF WIGHT
“We could hardly ask for a better or more exciting fixture to open up with. With local schools still on their Easter holidays, I’m sure we’ll have lots of vocal support and we can look forward to a cracking night.”
Warriors promoter Barry Bishop wants to put their weather woes behind them when champions Belle Vue visit Smallbrook on Thursday.
NEXT HOME: Belle Vue, Thur Apr 12 (7pm)
NEXT AWAY: Eastbourne (KOC), Sat Apr 21 (7.30)
The Kings picked up a point from a narrow defeat at Plymouth in their National Trophy opener and now face a break before home and away clashes with Birmingham.
NEXT HOME: Birmingham (EC), Mon Apr 30 (6.30)
NEXT AWAY: Birmingham (EC), Wed Apr 25 (7.30)
“It’s going to be an extra motivation for us. Our riders know we compare well with all the other teams, but speedway doesn’t happen on paper.”
Fen Tigers chief Kevin Jolly is happy enough to go into the season with the tag of favourites, and expects his young side to thrive under the expectations.
NEXT HOME: Plymouth (NT), Sun Apr 15 (3pm)
NEXT AWAY: Isle of Wight (NT), Thur May 3 (7pm)
“I think we will do well this season. People have written us off too early. I believe teams in the league are evenly matched and I think we have seven riders who will bond really well.”
New Devils boss Matt Bates is taking no notice of pre-season predictions, with his side opening up by beating Kent 46-43 in the National Trophy.
NEXT HOME: Eastbourne (NT), Fri Apr 13 (7.15)
NEXT AWAY: Mildenhall (NT), Sun Apr 15 (3pm)
“We have to remember this was Coventry’s third meeting and they managed to have a few laps during the morning, as they also hadn’t been able to get any practice in here. No excuses though - it was the same for both teams, we did our best and we just were not good enough today, but it did show we can do better.”
Potters boss Malcolm Vasey hopes his side are quickly up to speed after a 14-point defeat to Coventry in their opening fixture of the season.
NEXT HOME: Coventry (NT), Sat Apr 14 (7pm)
NEXT AWAY: Birmingham (NT), Wed Apr 11 (7.30)
MAJOR EVENTS LATEST…
BRITISH Speedway bosses can confirm the British Under-21 Final will now take place at Berwick on Tuesday, May 1 (7pm).
The meeting was initially set to be staged on April 17 at Birmingham; however, the change was required as the Perry Barr venue is unavailable on Tuesdays.
The British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) are very disappointed for Birmingham and sympathise with their unfortunate position, but are also very grateful to the Bandits promotion for stepping in to host the event.
BSPA Management Committee representative Damien Bates said: “With the new fixed race-nights of Monday and Wednesday at the top level, it also means Championship clubs are restricted over when they can stage meetings.
“Tuesday is the only night of the week which is unaffected, and therefore this gives us the opportunity for a full field without affecting other meetings around the country.
“We’re very pleased to be taking the event to Berwick, with their forward-thinking promotion and the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at Shielfield Park.
“We are also pleased to announce that the BSPA are planning to live-stream the event, and further details of this option will be made available in due course.
“The BSPA see this as an exciting opportunity to offer on a trial basis, and we very much look forward to the meeting.”
Nine riders are for the meeting are currently known, with seeds Robert Lambert and Dan Bewley joined by the seven qualifiers from last weekend’s first semi-final at Eastbourne.
Zach Wajtknecht led the way from a rain-affected Arlington event, as last season’s British Under-19 Champion finished ahead of Max Clegg with both riders on 14 points, Wajtknecht having beaten Clegg when the two riders met.
Connor Mountain finished third whilst James Shanes, Josh Bailey, Drew Kemp and home youngster Jason Edwards also took qualifying places for the Final.
Wajtknecht said: “It was one of those meetings where you just have to get on with it and naturally I’m delighted to get through.
“It is what it is and it’s the same for everyone. I think after the 12th heat they were thinking about it (calling it off) but it was only going to stay the same. Everyone just got on with it and everyone is safe at the end.”
The second semi-final scheduled for Newcastle last Sunday was postponed due to the weather, with a re-arrangement date to be confirmed.
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: ZACH WAJTKNECHT; Newcastle, Date TBC
BRITISH UNDER-21 FINAL: Berwick, May 1
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 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, Lakeside v Ipswich 8pm, 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
THURSDAY APRIL 19:
PREMIERSHIP: Swindon v King’s Lynn 7.30
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Redcar v Newcastle 7.30, Sheffield v Scunthorpe 7.30
NATIONAL TROPHY: Isle of Wight v Plymouth 7pm
FRIDAY APRIL 20:
CHAMPIONSHIP: Lakeside v Redcar 8pm
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Edinburgh v Glasgow 7.30, Scunthorpe v Sheffield 7.30
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP 1st round 1st leg: Belle Vue v Buxton 7.30
SATURDAY APRIL 21:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Ipswich v Lakeside 7.30
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP 1st round 1st leg: Eastbourne v Isle of Wight 7.30
NATIONAL TROPHY: Stoke v Birmingham 7pm
SUNDAY APRIL 22:
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD: Newcastle v Redcar 6.30, Glasgow v Edinburgh 3pm
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP 1st round 2nd leg: Buxton v Belle Vue 3pm
JON ARMSTRONG TESTIMONIAL: Mildenhall 2pm
MONDAY APRIL 23:
PREMIERSHIP: Belle Vue v Rye House 7.30, Leicester v Swindon 7.30, Wolverhampton v Poole 7.30
WEDNESDAY APRIL 25:
PREMIERSHIP: King’s Lynn v Poole 7.30, Rye House v Wolverhampton