ALL the talking, all the arguments, all the practice will be over come 7.30pm tomorrow (Saturday).
The Eastbourne Lifestyle Eagles take on the Belle Vue Aces at the Arlington Stadium in the opening Elite League match of the season and we shall see how good this year’s team really is.
Keyboard cowboys and bookies have written off Eastbourne’s chances this year but the tightly-knit Sussex crew are just as confident they will make it again to the play-offs come the autumn.
Those who have seen the riders on the track reckon they look good and say each and every man in the team can improve on his average. If that happens, Eastbourne will be more than in the autumn mix.
But Belle Vue will prove a stern challenge.
Their No 1, Rory Schlein, just loves the Arlington track and former Eastbourne old-boy, Adam Shields is at number five. Their reserves, Chris Schramm and Linus Eklof, will certainly be a good test for the Eagles’ new Russian, Denis Gizatullin, and returning Timo Lahti. My money is the Eagles easing to a win and three points.
Teams (riding order): Eagles: Joonas Kylmakorpi, Lukas Dryml, Simon Gustafsson, Cameron Woodward, Lewis Bridger, Denis Gizatullin, Timo Lahti.
Aces: Rory Schlein, Josh Grajczonek, Patrick Hougard, Charlie Gjedde, Adam Shields, Chris Schramm, Linus Eklof.
Eastbourne team boss Trevor Geer pulled no surprises with his riding order. In the past Gustafsson and Woodward have been the engine room of the team with Woodward more than once coming out in heat 14 to anchor success for the club.
As I’ve said before, it works well – a gater in Gustafsson and a chaser in Woodward; although he is aiming to be more of a gater this year.
Bridger, at No 5, pairs him three times with the reserves and it is just the responsibility he needs to improve. My only worry is at the opening pairing of Joonas and Lukas. Once or twice last year they got into awful muddles and on one occasion Dryml was forced to put the bike down when behind Kylmakorpi.
Maybe the advantages of the other pairings outweighed this potential worry. Joonas and Lukas do have enough experience to sort this out, now that they are going to ride together regularly, and, to be absolutely fair, the two have been practising starts together this week at Arlington.
Last Saturday, many fans went to Arlington for the club’s press and practice day. The rain ruled out any practise but many stayed and watched the riders being photographed a few thousand times and giving interviews to the press.
And even after the team was packing up to go home, many fans stood around chatting: glad that speedway was all but back for another year. For the riders, they were out on track on Sunday and during the early part of this week. There’s been a round of media interviews while at the stadium work on the pits has gone on apace.
The steelwork for the roof amazed people last week and when finished it will be a huge improvement.