Simon scores a superb maximum

EASTBOURNE EAGLES Speedway rider Simon Gustafsson scored a superb 15-point maximum against Wolverhampton last Saturday in a stunning 57-38 victory at Arlington.

What a change-around from a year ago. In 2010 Gustafsson’s season totally mis-fired in the early weeks, even leading to some people suggesting his place in the team was in danger.

The Eagles’ management persevered with the young Swede and, as the season went on, he sorted out his mechanical problems to regularly score points.

As team manager Trevor Geer pointed out: people in speedway knows Gustafsson is a huge talent and every Elite League club would queuing at the Arlington door if there was a suggestion Eastbourne would let him go.

Simon repaid that faith last Saturday as Wolves were convincingly defeated; a rare event over the years. We might win – but to win with races to spare is unusual. It’s early days and it is difficult to put in context where things are in this year’s race for the championship.

At the time of writing, the Coventry and Peterborough situation had not been sorted out, so we don’t know how strong they will be – if they eventually do run. But having said that, most pundits would put Poole and Wolverhampton near the top of the pile. Both teams have already gone home from Arlington with their tails between their legs.

There’s some real class, it appears, in this year’s team.

Bjarne Pedersen is proving to be a ‘real’ No 1 and a good leader, unlike last year’s incumbent.

Lukas Dryml has shocked everyone with his home displays. Lukas is a ‘form rider’ – he just needs convincing that he can ride like that away from home. Lukas, you can!

And Gustafsson – what more can we say, except his partnership with Cameron Woodward is a real powerhouse. Woodward is on the money and, together with Joonas Kylmakorpi, pulls out the big rides.

There are no worries about Lewis Bridger, with the only concern being Dawid Lampart. He failed to score against Wolves and seems to be in some sort of dispute with the club over an engine. In the week he was indicating he would not ride against Belle Vue. But other than Lampart, all is well in the home camp.

Co-promoter Mike Bellerby said: “We have made a flying start to the season. Everything has gone according to plan and we are looking forward to the next two home meetings.”

“I thought Wolverhampton would come back at us halfway through the meeting, as they have tended to do in the past, and it would go down to the last heat. But as Bjarne said, the key was that we got into their top three halfway through the match, which meant they could not comeback.”

Saturday’s match saw another increase in the attendance compared with Thursday night racing in 2010 and Bellerby hopes that the visit of the famous Belle Vue Aces tomorrow (Saturday) will build on this and cement the trend.

“Belle Vue have a great history, a huge reputation and in Chris Harris they have one of the most exciting riders in British speedway. There’s been plenty of entertainment already this year at Arlington and I am sure Belle Vue with Chris Harris and last year’s Eagle, Ricky Kling, in their team will test our early-season resolve.”

Bellerby is right about Harris – he’s the one British rider most fans want to see. He rides Arlington well and has pulled off the near impossible on bend three in the past.

Hang on to your hats when he’s in action. The match starts at 7.30pm.

n STOP PRESS: Dawid Lampart’s permission to race in England for the Eastbourne Eagles has been withdrawn by the Polish authorities, it was announced on Wednesday night. His place in the team to face Belle Vue tomorrow at Arlington (Saturday, 7.30pm) will be taken by No 8 Taylor Poole.