Richard Hudson’s Speedway World: Eastbourne Speedway’s early season troubles

Eastbourne Speedway could be on the brink of making changes to their 2013 team following a poor start to the season.

The current squad have been warned that the club is demanding an immediate improvement.

Club managers took decisive action this week after a weak performance at Wolverhampton on Monday where the Eagles crashed 59-34.

Normally club senior promoter Bob Dugard leaves the day-to-day running of the club to co-promoters Trevor Geer and Mike Bellerby but on Monday he took the unusual step of issuing a statement.

Dugard said: “The performance at Wolverhampton was unacceptable and the team needs to respond at once.

“We are looking for an immediate improvement and are considering our options at this moment. There is no question about it, we will make changes to the team if we have to.

“The whole basis of the 2013 team was ‘strength in depth’ and that’s not happening. That must change without delay.”

The club has not named which rider or riders are under threat but there’s no doubt quite a few need to show immediate improvement to be safe.

It is never easy to predict who may or may not go when speedway teams do a reshuffle. Averages will govern what happens and it might mean two going to allow one really top rider to come in with a lower average ‘make weight’.

I think it is reasonably safe to assume that Bjarne Pedersen, who missed the Wolves debacle through illness is safe. Cameron Woodward has been on the money this season.

Reserves Lukas Dryml Denis Gizatullin look to be OK. Of the remaining three, you might argue you need to give Adam Shields a bit more time after his comeback after a long lay-off. He did, after all, start very well at King’s Lynn last Wednesday and Gizatullin came to life later on. That, in my book, puts last season’s rider of the year, Timo Lahti, and Swede Simon Gustaffson as the most likely to be shipped out.

Their performances have been a pale shadow of last season. Lahti’s scores this year: (a) r 2 points (4 rides); (a) King’s Lynn 0 (3); (h) Wolves 5 + 1 (4); (a) Peterboro 2 + 1 (4); (h) Lakeside 4 + 2 (4); (a) Lakeside 0 (3). Gustafsson’s scores this year: (a) Wolves 3 + 1 (4 rides); (a) King’s Lynn 4 (4); (h) Wolves 0 (3); (a) Peterborough 2 + 1 (4); (h) Lakeside 2 (3); (a) Lakeside 7 + 1 (4).

It will not be easy for the Eagles to find replacements. The fact that they ride home meeting on a Saturday night always makes it problematic to recruit riders who like to earn big money in Poland on a Sunday. And what the Eagles really need is a “big hitter”. There’s still time to rescue this season but the window of opportunity is brief. New averages which will come into force at the beginning of May will reflect the decline in form so Messrs Dugard, Geer and Bellerby will want to act before then.