He’s got a ticket to ride

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Russian speedway star Denis Gizatullin got his first taste of Eastbourne Speedway this weekend as the Eagles hosted their annual press and practice day.

And while the rain put a dampener on proceedings at the Arlington Stadium, it did not put a dampener on the spirits of the team’s newest addition.

He said, “I am very happy to start the new season. I hope it will be a good one.”

The Russian champion confirmed his visa to ride in the UK is in place after all the necessary measures were completed without a hitch.

Gizatullin has been a target of Eastbourne’s for several years but has only recently passed the necessary English language exam needed to apply for a visa.

He admitted it was a relief to get the exam out of the way so that he could finally join the sunshine coast’s speedway side.

“It was hard but it’s done. I like to race and I came to England because I want to race regularly. Here, at Eastbourne, hopefully I will do that,” he continued.

The Lifestyle Eagles, who kept quiet about their pursuit of the Russian to allow him to take his exam free of pressure, believe he is the final piece in their jigsaw ahead of the new season. He joins on a four-point assessed average, meaning he will partner Timo Lahti in reserve.

Denis was introduced to fans at Saturday’s press and practice day but was made to wait for his first try on the track as bad weather pushed the practice session back from Saturday to Sunday morning. He will have been keen to get some laps under his belt ahead of next weekend, when Eastbourne start their 2012 campaign with a home meeting against Belle Vue.

Eastbourne are pushing for Elite League glory this season after being pipped to the post by the Poole Pirates last year.

And Gizatullin believes his new team is more than capable of taking the title.

“We will all go out there and do our best. My aim and their aim is to finish top and I think we can do it. I think we can win.”

The 28-year-old has previously ridden in Russia, Sweden and Poland but is already warming to life on the South-East coast.

“I like it here. The team are all great,” Gizatullin added.

The Eagles’ season gets underway against Belle Vue at the Arlington Stadium on Saturday March 24th at 7:30pm.