It is more than six months since the Arlington Stadium heard the sound of competitive speedway racing but that is all due to change tomorrow (Saturday) – weather permitting.
The Eastbourne Lifestyle Eagles take on the Belle Vue Aces in the first Elite League match of the season from 7.30pm.
Eastbourne’s riders have spent much of the last week sitting around staring at the leaden skies, champing at the bit to get out on track. Most of the team are desperate to get in some practice ahead of tomorrow’s fixture: none more so that the returning Adam Shields.
Shields, who has a base in Poland, headed south a couple of weeks ago to practise near Verona in northern Italy. It was a wasted trip as the weather was truly awful and he did not turn a wheel.
It was the same story on Saturday at Arlington when the club’s Official Practice was washed out for the second year in a row. The weather at the time of writing in midweek was little better and Bob Dugard, the senior Eastbourne promoter and stadium owner, took the unusual step of sanctioning night-time practice
sessions for the riders under the lights; if it was needed to beat the rain.
Eastbourne will be at full strength for tomorrow’s match: Bjarne Pedersen, Lukas Dryml, Denis Gizatullin, Simon Gustafsson, Timo Lahti, Adam Shields and captain Cameron Woodward.
Belle Vue will be without their No 1; Matej Zagar who is riding in the first GP of the season in New Zealand. Scott Nicholls takes his place.
It would have been interesting to see Zagar at Arlington again.
He rode for the Eagles in 2010 and in the course of one meeting could ride like a world champion and a novice. Zagar also missed a number of meetings which angered fans.
Missing out on Zagar’s return is a blow but Nicholls, also a former Eagle, is a fine replacement.
Belle Vue also track up-and-coming Brit Craig Cook, Pole Artur Mroczka, the returning Swede Magnus Zetterstrom, German Kevin Wolbert, Finn Kauko Nienimen and Lukas Dryml’s brother Alex from the Czech Republic.
WORDS BY RICHARD HUDSON