By Paul Watson
Speedway fans can expect close, high-standard racing when the doors open for the new season at Arlington Stadium on Saturday (April 6). That’s the verdict from the people who really know – the riders.
The Eastbourne Fineprint Eagles are returning to race in the Championship after four years running as a semi-professional club in the sport’s lower league.
The first match for what has been dubbed the ‘new era Eagles’ is against Birmingham in the Championship Shield. The meeting begins at 8pm.
Eastbourne’s team is a mixture of some familiar faces and some newcomers to the Sussex shale. Stepping up from last year’s double winning team are Georgie Wood and Tom Brennan, who will fill the reserve berths.
Captaining the team is Hailsham’s Edward Kennett, who returns to the track where he was once a mascot.
Richard Lawson and Lewi Kerr are the other two heat leaders and both ride in the sport’s top league in the UK, the Premiership. Both said fans will see a big step-up in the quality of racing.
Lawson said, “It is an exciting move for the club.
“If you look up and down the teams in this league, they are all very competitive. It’s a tough league and I think the fans will enjoy it. To be fair I have not seen a lot of the National League, but I think you will find that the racing is a lot closer and a bit faster.
“In the Championship you can get a reserve coming out and beating a heatleader.In the National League you wouldn’t generally find that.
“Every race should create a bit of excitement.”
Kerr said: “We have a great group of lads in the team and there are exciting things happening with the club. I love the track and practice has gone well so far. This is a great league, a really good league. There’s not too much difference when you compare it with the Premiership.
“Eastbourne fans will really love the league. You are going to see some fantastic racing, 100 per cent. It is a very tough league for a rider. There are no easy races but the fans will love it. They will get better racing than they have been used to.”
Ben Morley and Alfie Bowtell complete the Eagles’ line-up. Both have experience with Lakeside in Championship racing.
Morley said, “The Championship is a tough old league. Any club can go anywhere and put on a good show. We want to hit the ground running first meeting and try and keep that up all through the year.”
The start time for Saturday’s match at Arlington is 8pm to allow armchair fans of Brighton and Hove FC to watch the Seagulls in FA Cup semi-final action on TV and still have time to get to the speedway.
Teams: Eastbourne: Edward Kennett, Ben Morley, Alfie Bowtell, Lewi Kerr, Richard Lawson, Georgie Wood, Tom Brennan.
Birmingham: Ulrich Ostergaard, Tobias Thomsen, Zach Wajtknecht, Ashley Morris, Kyle Newman, Paco Castagna, James Shanes.