Two trips home from speedway matches... and two very different feelings – Shaleman’s Friday column

Two trips home from speedway matches this week and two very different feelings.

Last Saturday, spirits were high for the short drive home from the Arlington Stadium after the Eastbourne Lifestyle Eagles had beaten Belle Vue 55-40 in the opening match of the season.

The win could have been much bigger but a number of the Eagles fell – due in part to opening night nervousness.

We had witnessed some fine racing and some devastating overtaking by Lewis Bridger, who left opposing Number One, Rory Schlein, for dead in one race.

Everything in the garden looked rosy.

Contrast that with the long trip home from King’s Lynn on Wednesday night. The Eagles had lost 59-31, conceded five maximum 5-1 race defeats in the last five races and, to make matters much worse, our Number One Joonas Kylmakorpi was in King’s Lynn hospital after a serious crash.

Kylmakorpi had crashed on the run to the first turn in heat one when he tangled with Daniel Nermark and suffered a frightening fall. Fortuately his injuries were not as bad as first feared – although they do stull sound pretty nasty. He has a ‘cracked collarbone and damage to the shoulder socket’, and has since been released from hospital. Kylmakorpi will be seeking immediate treatment with the hope of returning to the track within three to four weeks.

The crash certainly took the wind out of the Eagles’ sails but they did manage to stay in touch until the half-way stage, but after that the home side went into overdrive as the Eagles crumbled.

Team manager Trevor Geer was naturally disappointed with the result at King’s Lynn. However, he did not blame the injury to Joonas for the defeat.

He said: “Even if Joonas had been fit for the whole match, I do not think it would have made any difference to the end result. I do not think we made one gate all night and we were chasing in every race.”

He is now warning his riders that they must get the season back on track immediately when they face King’s Lynn at Arlington in front of the TV cameras on Monday.

He said: “We beat Belle Vue quite comfortably in our opening match on Saturday but it is fair to say we threw away quite a few points when our riders fell. Our pre-season practice sessions had gone well but there is inevitably a bit of nervousness that will have accounted for some of those falls.”

Geer said he was reminding the riders that the Stars had proved particularly difficult opponents at Arlington last year and that they needed to be “on their guard right from the off” on Monday night.

“Our first aim this year is to get into the Elite League play-offs and to do that you need a solid home record. I think King’s Lynn will be a much tougher test than the Aces proved to be. We are still at an early stage of the season and we must aim to take advantage of these early meetings to get points on the board so the other teams have to play catch up. It worked in 2011 and there’s no reason why it should not this year.”