Eastbourne boss Trevor Geer believes the table-topping Eagles have snapped up one of the hottest prospects around in teenage Finn Timo Lahti.
The 18-year-old signed on last week as the new number seven and is set to make his Elite League début in today’s double-header meeting with Lakeside Hammers.
He replaces Dawid Lampart, whose Polish club had refused him permission to ride in Sussex.
Lahti, who was recommended by Arlington favourite Joonas Kylmakorpi, flew in less than two weeks ago and didn’t take long to make an impact.
Geer said, “He came over just for us to have a look and we gave him a couple of laps of practice on Sunday. Bob Dugard (owner) and myself watched him and straight away we signed him up. We were impressed with him, he’s only 18.
“He is going to struggle for a few meetings but Bob Dugard and I both think we can cover for him for the time being. He is too good to let slip through our fingers.”
The Eagles used young Aussie Taylor Poole in the reserve berths last weekend but with the arrival of Lahti, he will drop back to number eight as he concentrates on leading the Ipswich Witches’ charge in the Premier League.
Eastbourne ride at Lakeside at 1pm today before hosting them back at Arlington later in the evening (7.45pm). And on Sunday they travel to Poole Pirates, who they defeated 57-39 six days ago.
The Hammers are set to track three former Eagles riders in Lee Richardson, Adam Shields and Peter Ljung, and Geer is anticipating a tricky few days.
He said, “I consider them quite tough meetings, Lakeside are really good at home, they won away at Belle Vue so they are getting their act together now and Poole are always strong at home, so it is a tough weekend.
“The way the lads are going at the moment I’m still pretty confident. I just hope we can strengthen our position at the top of the league. We dropped a few points at Wolves but we’re certainly hoping for points everywhere we go now really.”
Last Monday’s defeat at Wolverhampton was the Eagles’ first of the campaign but they did manage a losing bonus point and held onto their place at the top of the Elite League pile.
Geer added, “It is nice to be in this position, we haven’t been in this position for a long time – top of the league and the team to beat.”
Eagles: 1. Pedersen, 2. Dryml, 3. Gustafsson, 4. Woodward, 5. Kylmakorpi, 6. Bridger, 7. Lahti.