Eastbourne are men in motion as Eagles get back to winning ways

Cam celebrates with the fans
Cam celebrates with the fans
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The strains of John Parr’s (St Elmo’s Fire) Man in Motion rang out again on Saturday night around the Arlington stadium signalling the Eastbourne Lifestyle Eagles got back to winning ways, writes Richard Hudson.

In the end it was a decisive victory in a battle of the Elite League’s bottom two, but early on it looked anything but easy for the Eagles. In fact, team manager Trevor Geer confessed he had a feeling of “here we go again” as the Cambridgeshire side had the better of the initial races.

But after the half-way stage the home wide ran away with it to end up 54-36 winners.

Cameron Woodward was top man with paid 17 points and there were double figure hauls for Bjarne Pedersen, Simon Gustafsson and Timo Lahti, who was back in the reserve berth.

The big worry is fellow reserve Denis Gizatullin. The struggles Eastbourne had in getting him permission to ride in this country were well documented. His 2012 season was so-so and it was hoped he would “kick on” in 2013.

That’s not happened and the Russian is beginning to look like a forlorn character at Arlington, perhaps wishing he was anywhere but in Sussex.

If – and we are back to those ifs and buts now – Eastbourne can find a hot, young prospect to bring in, they should allow Gizatullin to fade out gracefully and give a young blood to establish himself for next season; in just the same way that Gustafsson was brought into the team in 2007.

Some would argue for a “big hitter”. You can make the case for that but the chances of making the play-offs are gone. It would be much better, in my opinion, to try and start building something for the 2014 campaign.

Talking of the future, this (Sunday) afternoon at Arlington gives fans a chance to see the ‘stars of tomorrow’ as Eastbourne again stage a round of the British Youth Champonships. Some of the riders are no more than pint-sized and are having bottles of pop bought for them by their dads.

Put them on a speedway bike though and some of them are already beginning to look like the real deal.

There’ll be 30 or more races but if experience from previous stagings is anything to go by the heats come and thick and fast, with hardly time to complete your programme.

From the home fans’ point of view the lad to cheer will be Kelsey Dugard in the 500cc class. Kelsey, Martin’s son, is a regular on the track after league meetings.

After two rounds of the six-round competition, the leaders are Michael Neale, Reece Downes and Nathan Greaves, all tied on 32 points. Kelsey has 22 points after rounds at Leicester and Rye House.

Two British brothers, Daniel and Ethan Spiller, are travelling from Germany to compete. Daniel is the world 250cc champion and a “real hot prospect”, according to British youth joint manager Neil Vatcher.

“He is certainly one for people to go and watch. He has never ridden a British track before and it will be interesting to see how he performs against our series leaders.

“This 500cc class is going to be a real battle on Sunday,” Vatcher said.

In the 250cc class, Zach Wajtknecht, who won the world 250cc title on grass last year, is competing. He was Britain’s only motor sport world champion in 2012 and is second at the moment in the UK series, four points behind Lewis Whitmore who leads on 34 points.

Ethan Spiller will be competing in this class.

The 125cc class is probably the most competitive, although these are termed “support” races with the championship being decided in a one-off meeting.

The last two 125cc champions are competing - Tom Brennan, who won in 2012 after coming from last to first in the final race at Arlington, and Henry Atkins (2011). They will face stiff competition from Kyle Bickley who won both the opening rounds of this series.

There will be more than 30 races on the card on Sunday afternoon but Vatcher promised the action would be quick-fire. He said: “The kids are really keen. They are always ready to go out; there is no messing about.

“We will get though the races in about two to two-and-a-half hours. Everyone is looking forward to coming to an Elite League venue. It is a honour for us all to come to a track and stadium like Eastbourne.”

Pictured: Cameron Woodward celebrating with the fans. Picture by Mike Hinves/www.speedwayprint.co.uk