Eastbourne Eagles are in no doubt of the size of the task facing them this weekend as Arlington Stadium opens its doors once more to Speedway action on Saturday evening with a 7.30 p.m. start time.
In unquestionably their toughest test of the 2012 to date, it is the Poole Pirates who stand tall in the opposing side of the pits, fully intent on putting the Sussex side to the sword. The Pirates, reigning Elite League Champions, Knockout Cup holders, current table toppers, Elite Shield winners already this year and just for good measure, the team who have yet to be beaten in twelve attempts in season 2012.
Certainly a tantalising encounter is in prospect but for the Eagles an already herculean task is made potentially all the more difficult by the absence of not one but two key riders in Joonas Kylmakorpi and Simon Gustafsson as they endeavour to make it unlucky thirteen for the Pirates by derailing the Dorset sides runaway train.
Both Gustafsson and Kylmakorpi, the latter now fit again having recovered suitably from injuries sustained in Eagles opening away match of the campaign at King’s Lynn, will be away contesting World Championship qualifying rounds, a situation also affecting the Pirates with Australian Sam Masters and Pole Adrian Miedzinski also missing for similar reasons.
However, the important difference between the sides is the presence of Poole’s top two riders, the Pirates heavy artillery and the duo dubbed the turbo twins, Chris Holder and Darcy Ward who will both be in attendance.
On current form, the two best riders that the section has to offer, Holder and Ward will be looking continue their winning ways by piling the pressure on the Eagles, and bringing with them a team, one that also includes the likes of Swede Dennis Andersson, former Eagle Ricky Kling and reserve duo Ludvig Lindgren and Todd Kurtz, brimming with confidence few would surely bet against them doing just that.
Eastbourne however have often proved a thorn in the side of the Dorset side in the past and of course will be striving to do so again, but they know that every member of their side will have to be at the very top of their game if they are to end the Pirates imposing run.
Poole made it twelve straight victories so far in 2012 at Peterborough’s East of England Showground on Thursday evening following a 51-39 triumph against the local Panthers, a result masterminded by a third maximum in a busy week for hot property Ward, the previous two having already seen the Pirates put to an end the Knockout Cup interests of the Wolverhampton Wolves with home and away successes against the Monmore men in the early part of the week.
Away wins have effectively become the norm for the Pirates with further successes in the Elite League also having been achieved at Coventry, Wolves, Lakeside and Birmingham in addition to their victory against Peterborough.
Now it is the turn of Eastbourne, for whom Jason Doyle, of Swindon and Somerset guests in place of Gustafsson, to test the might of the Pirates.
It is certainly going to be tough, as tough a test as they’ve faced in a long while, however it is a situation that the Eagles have found themselves in on many occasions in the past and never ones to back away from a fight, it is a challenge that they will surely be relishing.
Eagles: 1. Rider Replacement for Joonas Kylmakorpi, 2. Lukas Dryml, 3. Jason Doyle (Guest for Simon Gustafsson), 4. Cameron Woodward (Captain), 5. Lewis Bridger, 6. Denis Gizatullin, 7. Timo Lahti.
Pirates: 1. Chris Holder, 2. Ricky Kling, 3. Darcy Ward, 4. Dennis Andersson, 5. Rider Replacement for Adrian Miedzinski, 6. Ludvig Lindgren, 7. Todd Kurtz.