Due to demand Tai Woffinden is now to do an EXTRA SHOW at Workington earlier the same day!
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Team Talk - Saturday 24th August
Photo by Dave Payne
Sat 24 Aug 2013 by Tony Jackson
Saturday 24th August 2013
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of ‘Team Talk' – almost three weeks since the last one unfortunately but much as I enjoy doing it there are only so many hours in a day and you have to firstly do the things you have to do before you can do the things you'd like to do!

Obviously, since the last edition at lot has happened, and there has been a bit of travelling involved to far flung places such as Ipswich and Somerset – but more of that later. This could be a long edition so a cup of coffee could be needed to get through it!

I'd like to start off with last week's planned Test Match, which unfortunately fell victim to the weather. Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe it but at least we can say we gave the meeting every chance to run before we had no option but to call it off just before 20 past 4 following an intense 15 minute shower, which was by far the heaviest of the day.

The track staff did a great job during the day but, in the end, that was one shower too many.

We were down at the track in the morning and were amazed at 9:30am how good the track was – it was almost perfect. In fact despite the overnight rain it would have needed watering at that point if you were to run a meeting then!

Rusty came down at that time and he too was surprised as to how good it was. The track staff graded it and tyre packed it to seal it against the rain, which we knew was coming. In fact when the mesh was dragged around the circuit before tyre packing there was actually dust coming up – unbelievable. When I got up that morning I had expected it to be soaking wet and a certain call off but how wrong I was.

The weather forecast had changed overnight and the four websites we checked all showed the same, with the rain clearing by 3:30pm and possible sunshine later. We weren't bothered about the sunshine, staying dry was all we wanted. I contacted GB manager Phil Morris and he had seen the same. We also have a weatherman that we call up and talk to and he backed up all the other forecasts so we pressed ahead, especially as the rain that was due was far less than had originally been predicted. Apparently surrounding areas had far more than fell at the track but it is amazing how often the weather differs right on the coast.

By lunchtime the heaviest rain had been and passed with lighter rain forecast until about 3:30pm. By then there were two small puddles on the track and the track looked good considering.

But, by 3:00pm the rain had stopped and the skies showed signs of clearing. The track still looked in good shape and with four hours until start time and a strong drying wind we started getting everything ready for racing.

Things were taking shape then at around 4:00pm a few spots of rain fell and then just after five past four it started to come down in pint sized drops and it was game over unfortunately.

It was so disappointing to have got that far and then have to call it off but with it being a special meeting we gave it every chance to go ahead but you can't beat the British weather. Obviously we incurred costs as a result of having to call it off but that's life unfortunately. Thankfully (so far) this year has not been too bad for rain offs – although there is still time for that record to go up in smoke!

So, overall However, we were determined that the meeting would be re-staged as the fans deserve it and we are grateful that the GB team manager (Phil Morris) and Australian manager (Mark lemon) were able to quickly agree to come back on Saturday 14th September, when hopefully we are blessed with a dry evening.

Last night's Premier League action saw Edinburgh take all the points from their home fixture with Rye House. Meanwhile, down at Plymouth, the defending champions Scunthorpe, having not won away all season, claimed a second 46-44 away win in two days as they try and make a late surge towards a top six place. Elsewhere, the big clash between Somerset and Ipswich fell victim to the rain after just four heats, with the Rebels sitting on a 14-10 lead at the time. That was Ipswich's second rain-off in two days as their home meeting against Plymouth on Thursday night was called off due to rain shortly before the scheduled start time at Foxhall Heath.

Things are really tightening up now at the top of the league and any six from seven sides, possibly eight if Scunthorpe get on a late run and two teams falter, can make the play-offs. As I said earlier in the week, one bit of bad luck could cost you a match point and cause you to narrowly miss out on a top-six position. Nobody wants to be the one to just miss out. Below is the league table as of this morning:

Current top eight in the Premier League
1 Somerset 47 pts (3 matches to race: 2 at home & 1 away)
2 Edinburgh 47 (5 matches to race: 1 at home & 4 away)
3 Redcar 41 (1 away match to race)
4 Ipswich 39 (7 matches to race: 3 at home & 4 away)
5 Workington 39 (4 matches to race: 2 home & 2 away)
6 Newcastle 36 (7 matches to race: 5 at home & 2 away)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7 Leicester 35 (4 matches to race: 2 at home & 2 away)
8 Scunthorpe 33 (2 matches to race: 1 at home & 1 away)

From that it goes without saying just how important this weekend's two matches against Newcastle are and I have told the team that we cannot afford any slip-ups, especially this evening, as if we miss out on the play-offs it is an early end to the season and it will be at least four pay-days that they won't get.

At Lakeside last night Kyle and Richard took part on opposing sides in the big Lakeside v Poole crunch match, which Lakeside won 50-43. Each had seven rides, and they met each other on FIVE occasions; each claiming two wins over the other each before Kyle effectively got excluded three times in heat 14! Having touched the tapes he was then penalised by 15 metres, from which he jumped the start and was excluded; but he didn't see the black flag after which he knocked his team-mate off (fellow guest Timo Lahti from Eastbourne), so he was excluded again - that has to be some kind of a record!

Meanwhile, Newcastle's skipper Stuart Robson unfortunately suffered a suspected broken leg last night while doubling-up in Coventry's 70-20 hammering at Peterborough, so the Diamonds will be operating Rider Replacement for him this weekend. With Stuart currently lying third in the Diamonds averages it means that everyone except Richie Worrall can take one of his rides.

We will be operating RR for Tero on Saturday as he is away competing in the Finnish national championships, but he will be back to take his place in the side on Sunday evening at Brough Park (start time 6:30pm). Given the form Tero is showing and injuries to some of his rivals Tero has a reasonable chance of claiming his first Finnish title today.

A full preview of tonight's home meeting with Newcastle can be found elsewhere on our website in the News section.

After last Saturday's call off I popped over to Newcastle on Sunday to see their Test Match, which gave me a chance to see the Diamonds new signing; 22-year-old Swede Anton Rosen in action when he did some laps at the interval. He has come in to replace the injured Christian Henry and looked to have a bit of potential although initially, until he gets Brough Park weighed up, he may take a little while to adapt to his new home track. However, I suspect he will find our circuit a bit more like what he has been used to so he could very easily be a threat to us this evening.

At least the Test Match gave Kyle, Richard and Rusty a chance to get some laps in at Brough Park the week before our visit – which is an opportunity you don't find almost half your team to be given too often. They made full use of the opportunity and all three of them certainly appeared to be more at ease with the circuit at the end of the night than they were at the beginning.

Looking back at other meetings since my last ‘Team Talk' there are a few things to comment about – starting with our defeat at Somerset on 6th August.

Following our superb effort there in the KO Cup tie a month earlier we went to the Oak Tree Arena with plenty of hope alas a very disappointing night saw us leave empty handed. It soon became apparent that the track was totally different to how it was prepared on our previous visit. In fact the Somerset riders said: We've been asking for the track to be like this all season and we finally have what we wanted!”

The racing line was soon out by the fence and the Rebels were absolutely flying. If you got onto that line you would never be caught. In fact Nick Morris posted a time just 0.6 outside the track record. I firmly believe that the Rebels would have comfortably beaten any team on that track that night.

After we did so well in the first two races the Rebels soon realised how the track was riding and from heat 3 onwards they were absolutely on it – in fact it was a bit scary how they were riding, and we just couldn't get near to them. We were getting well beaten by some distance in many races.

Trying to decide what to do with the black and white helmet cover was just impossible as the whole night went a bit random to say the least. That was typified by Tero, who having picked up one point from his first two rides (when he beat Rene) was complaining of being slow – and then went out and won heat 8 from the back!

Then Kyle, who had two third places to his name after beating Rusty twice, but being a long way behind the Rebels pairings each time, then went out and beat their number one Jason Doyle! However, in that race even Doyle knew that Kyle had found the ‘racing line' and could see that there was no point in trying to pass him as he had found the best line – right by the fence!

From then on Kyle seemed to find the fast line and the speed in his remaining races. With the heat 12 cut-off for using the second ‘black and white' fast approaching I was all set to give it to Tero in heat 11 but a discussion between him, Rene and me before the race saw it handed to Rene after Tero suggested I gave it to Rene as Rene was on a far better gate! However, a crazy first lap saw all the riders jostling for position with Tero emerging in front as they came off the fourth bend. At that point, just behind him, he had Rene on one side and Josh Grajczonek at the other side but after looking for Rene he turned around to face the direction he was heading and, in his own words “the fence was right there!”.

What followed was a big crash, and I mean big – as Tero and his machine flew through the air. Richard Lawson and myself ran from the pits to see him, fearing the worst with every step – only to find him lying on his back laughing! They are crazy people these speedway riders!

Incredibly after the crash Tero claimed that he felt better than before the crash because his troublesome thumb had been knocked back into place and now he had full movement and it did not hurt anymore – nevertheless, it is not a procedure I would recommend to anyone looking to cure an injury!

The night before our next home match I made the trip over to Berwick to watch the UK round of the World Under-21 Championship Finals (actually it was just an excuse to visit Robert Smith's chip shop) and what a terrific night of speedway it was; with great racing, a few incidents, nice weather and an excellent performance by Kyle as he came within a whisker of being on the podium. In fact a win in his last race would have put him in a run-off for first place on the night. The whole night was thoroughly enjoyable and the way the meeting ran like clockwork was a credit to Berwick Speedway. As for Kyle, I don't think I have seen him race better than that and he certainly was a match for the best young talent that Poland, Denmark and the others have to offer.

The following day's visit from Scunthorpe turned out as tough as I expected as they are another of those solid sides who can pick up points from any position in the team. Since signing Nicolai Klindt in mid-season they have seemed a different side and so it proved. With rider replacement for David Howe, who had only scored 11 points in his previous four Scunthorpe meetings plus the in-form David Bellego riding as a guest for the injured Ashley Birks, who had been struggling with a wrist injury for a couple of weeks, the Scorpions were in essence stronger with those changes – and that was before we saw how Ryan Douglas rode Derwent Park.

I was pretty impressed with Ryan Douglas for a first timer at our track, and once he'd had a couple of rides to get familiar with it he looked really good, so it looks like the Aussies have another talented youngster on their hands.

I was also very impressed with the attitude of Luke Crang, who stepped in as a National League guest for Ashley. The youngster from Darlington has only been riding speedway for a few months but has made rapid strides already in the sport and certainly looks like one for the future – especially if his pass of Nicolai Klindt to secure a vital third place is anything to go by.

In the end we were relieved to come out with a victory over Scunthorpe although disappointed not to take all three points but, at the end of the day, a win is a win and every point is vital at this stage of the season.

Four days later, on the 15th August, we were in action down at Ipswich and with Ashley still out injured we called upon the services of King's Lynn based youngster Lewis Rose. He is another convert from Moto-cross who has had some outings with Somerset earlier in the year – including a visit to Derwent Park. Talking to King's Lynn's National League sides manager Dale Allitt, he feels that considering how long he has been riding he is at a more advanced stage than Lewis Kerr was after the same time on a bike, and he isn't doing too badly is he?

Our final score at Ipswich, a 53-37 defeat was disappointing, although marginally better than our KO Cup visit back in April. Lewis did his job by leading heat 2 from tape to flag while Rusty, Kyle and Tero all rode really well. In fact the final score probably doesn't do us justice as we were better than the score suggests and we still only trailed by 6 points after eleven heats. Typically we went 10 points down after heat 12, by which time you cannot use a TR, while a last heat 5-1 for the Witches made the score-line worse than it deserved to be.

Yet again Tero popped out of the start with two late race wins and he was the only rider to defeat the Witches number one Ben Barker, although Rusty led him for three and a half laps before a crazy inside pass by Barker on the last bend of heat 15 saw Rusty faced with no option but to move out and drop the bike otherwise Barker would almost certainly have had him off. I'm all for hard, but fair riding, although occasionally a rider goes over that line and in my opinion that was just such an instance; and it was only Rusty's awareness and vast experience that kept him safe.

You will no doubt be aware that a lack of available riders has caused the 'Cumberland Open Championship' that had been planned for next Saturday to be postponed to a later date. There are now so many meetings being planned for that date that rider availability became a major issue. We certainly don't want it to be a ‘filler meeting' but we do want it to be a meeting with a good line up of quality riders if at all possible.

I am sure we all have ideas of who we would like to see in the meeting although unfortunately injury has ruled a few out already but nevertheless we will do our utmost to put together a quality field to provide the best entertainment that we possibly can.

Finally, I see that ex-Comet Peter Kildemand has been called up into the field of the Grand Prix Challenge at Poole this evening. I never tire of watching him race and if he can make it into the top three this evening then I am sure his involvement in the Grand Prix would liven things up a bit!

So, let's wish him all the best while we aim to get points on the board this evening against Newcastle, in what promises to be a great meeting – and the sun is shining brightly too!

Until next time,
Tony J
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Last Updated :  Sat 24 Aug 2013, 15:15 UK
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