EASTBOURNE Speedway are now only one step away from cementing Russian Denis Gizatullin as a member of their 2012 Elite League team.
The rider has passed a vital English test and lodged his visa application to ride in Britain.
Club officials expect the visa will come through in plenty of time for the 28-year-old to take his place in the opening fixture on March 24 at Arlington against Belle Vue.
Co-promoter and team manager Trevor Geer said, “Our desire to bring Denis Gizatullin into the Eagles team goes back some years.
“We have never lost interest in him and have continued to track his progress.
“Now that he has passed the English test, we believe he will get the visa to allow him to ride in Britain.
“It has been confirmed that he will come in on a four point average and a rider of his skill and experience should be able to substantially build on that figure.
“His starting average of four means he will line up at reserve with Timo Lahti.”
Geer said he and the rest of the management team believe Gizatullin is the final piece of the jigsaw which will again put the Lifestyle Eagles into play-off contention in this year’s league. He has been Russian national champion, has captained the national team and has considerable experience in Poland.
He added, “We were runners-up to Poole last year and, obviously, we want to go one better this year.
“Every rider in our team is more than capable of winning races. Strength in depth paid off in 2011 and we see no reason why it should not do so again.”
Co-promoter Mike Bellerby explained why the club had remained quiet for some weeks about who would take the final place in the team.
“As most people know, we tried to bring in Gizatullin a few years ago but we were left disappointed when he could not gain a visa due to the English language requirements.
“We understand fans have wanted to know who the final rider would be but on this occasion we were determined to work quietly, out of the spotlight, to get our man.
“Gizatullin has passed the English test, his visa application has been lodged, he has agreed terms with us and I already have permission from the Russian speedway federation for him to ride in England for the Eagles.
“All these things needed to be in place before we felt able to make any announcement.
“Our position is now similar to that of Fulham football club who signed a Russian player on transfer deadline day. They said he would be in their team, subject to him obtaining the necessary visa.
“That happened for Fulham and the player has already made his debut for the club.”
DENIS is ready to manace: Russian rider Denis Gizatullin is expected to sign on for the Eagles for the 2012 season