Speedway with Shaleman: Eagles looking to clean up the one blot on their copy book

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EASTBOURNE Eagles begin the second half of this year’s Elite League campaign today (Saturday) aiming to erase the one real blot on their season so far.

The home defeat by King’s Lynn was a real shock – especially as the Lifestyle Eagles had sneaked to victory on the Norfolk side’s track three nights before.

King’s Lynn came to Sussex – with both teams patched up because of international calls – and steam-rollered to an impressive win.

Only some smart work by Lewis Bridger in the last couple of heats gave the score some respectability.

Team manager Trevor Geer has shuffled his riders around for the match. It reflects the change in averages which sends Lukas Dryml down to the reserve berth while rewarding Bridger for some super displays this year.

The team, in riding order, is: Bjarne Pedersen, Cameron Woodward, Simon Gustafsson, Joonas Kylmakorpi, Lewis Bridger, Lukas Dryml and Timo Lahti.

For much of this season Woodward has “anchored” the key heat 14 but that role now falls to world long track champion Kylmakorpi.

For the visitors, on this occasion we should see the wizardry of the visiting No 1, Kenneth Bjerre, who has shown his liking for the Arlington track on more than one occasion in the past. He’s certainly going to be a handful.

Niels-Kristian Iversen has had his moments in Sussex, Olly Allen is a former Eagle and Mads Korneliussen is having a really good season. Previously a Swindon rider, Mads by name and a bit Mads by nature has ruffled plenty of feathers down here. Filip Sitera fills the last permanent berth in the team.

The mysteries over the Lynn team begin with the team’s lesser lights. They went for covering a couple of team positions with two riders selected from Tom Topinka, Sam Masters, Lasse Bjerre, Morten Risager and Adam Roynon.

By my calculations, Masters and Topinka are in action tomorrow night for their Premier League clubs, whose fixtures take precedence. Risager and Roynon are both injured.

King’s Lynn have decided to use rider replacement at No 2 in place of Masters and have named Lasse Bjerre at No 6.

Strange that you name two riders to cover the No 2 position and still have to use rider replacement.

There’s an extra nine races for supporters with a fully competitive second-half lined up with some of the brightest young prospects in British speedway

There are three classes planned:

n 500cc category: Cameron Hoskins, Adam Portwood, Jack Kingston and Brandon Freemantle.

n 250cc: Mitchell Jacks, Kelsey Dugard, Josh Bailey and Connor Mountain.

n 125cc: Kenny Bowdery, Lewis Whitmore, William O’Keefe and Tom Brennen.

Two names immediately stand out. Brandon Freemantle has had plenty of Arlington experience and now rides for Hackney Hawks in the National League, whose home matches are shared between the Rye House and Lakeside tracks. Brandon is expected to sign for the Eagles when he becomes 16 later in the year.

He first rode at the Eastbourne junior track at the age of eleven in 2007, prior to moving on to the main circuit at Arlington Stadium for second-half outings. Just two years after his first skids, he took the British Under-15 Championship at 250cc level, finishing ahead of Robert Lambert and Nathan Stoneman.

In 2010 he collected his second British Under-15 title – this time on 500cc equipment – finishing ahead of Adam Kirby and Adam Portwood.

And it’s good to see the Dugard name on the list, joining the family speedway racing dynasty. Kelsey’s great grandfather, Charlie, was one the country’s speedway pioneers, his grandfather, Bob, was a formidable racer and father Martin, “the Master of Arlington” was the first British to rider to win a British speedway GP.

The Elite League match gets under way at 7.30pm.