Eastbourne Eagles’ rising star Timo Lahti has been promoted to the number two spot ahead of the team’s meet with Belle Vue this weekend following a blistering season.
The young Finn has taken the world of speedway by surprise with his fine, free-scoring form this year and has increased his average to such an extent that he has now been rewarded with a main team spot in place of Lukas Dryml.
As a result, team manager Trevor Geer was been forced to shuffle his line-up, which has returned to full strength following a smattering of injuries in recent weeks, and it now sees Lahti slip in at number two behind Joonas Kylmakorpi.
Lukas Dryml has dropped down to a reserve alongside Denis Gizatullin.
Geer said, “Timo deserves his promotion to a full-team place. We all had high hopes for him this year but his scoring has been a revelation, even to us.
“His average is now higher than that of both Denis and Lukas and that means he has a place in the body of the main team.”
Lahti can now boast an average of 6.10, above Dryml at 5.71 and Gizatullin at 4.16.
This Saturday, Eastbourne welcome Belle Vue to the Arlington Arena in what will be their last home meet of the regular season. Following that, they face two long jaunts in the space of three days - the first to Manchester to race Belle Vue again on Monday night before travelling along the south coast to Poole on Wednesday.
The week after, they face away trips to Peterborough and Birmingham to round off their 2012 season.
The Eagles have only won two out of their ten meets on the road so far this season, compared to 11 victories out of 13 matches on home shale.
So, with their travelling form not quite matching up to their dominant home form so far this year, the final five meets of the season, four of which are away, could prove tough for the Eagles team.
Geer said, “Saturday is a must-win match for us if we are to have any chance of making the play-offs. It’s obviously good news that Joonas and Denis are back with us at this vital time.
“We are targeting four league points on Monday night to put the pressure on the other teams chasing a top four finish.”
Poole and Swindon currently occupy the top two Elite League places but the Eagles are one of five other teams still in with a shout of securing a play-off spot.
Eastbourne are third in the table at the moment but have Lakeside hot on their heels in fourth, just one point behind having played a meet less. Behind them, Kings Lynn, Peterborough and Birmingham all also still have a chance of sneaking into the top four.
However, both Lakeside and Birmingham have to face high-flying Poole and Swindon before the end of the season, while Peterborough and Kings Lynn also have to meet the Robins.
The Eagles, whose last meet was a fortnight ago when they thrashed Wolverhampton Wolves 61-32, will be hoping to bank some crucial points from their home meet with bottom-of-the-table Belle Vue this weekend.
Tapes rise at 7pm on Saturday night, when the Arlington Stadium will also host another ‘super draw’ for the 100 club.
The Eagles line-up: 1 Joonas Kylmakorpi (7.71), 2 Timo Lahti (6.10), 3 Simon Gustafsson (6.56), 4 Cameron Woodward (6.11), 5 Lewis Bridger (6.96), 6 Lukas Dryml (5.71), 7 Denis Gizatullin (4.16).