Erik leads now teammate Matt Williamson Image Credit: Ron MacNeill

Championship Shield Tilt Begins

PREVIEW Friday 13th April 2018, 12:00pm

by Graham Muncie

So after an enjoyable season opener against the ‘Monarchs Champions’ it’s on to the real stuff as we take on the Workington Comets in Championship Shield action.

This will be the opening fixture of the group as well (running at the same time as Glasgow take on Berwick at Ashfield) so the race is on to be group leader come the end of the night.

The Comets will not be easy to overcome though with strength throughout and with a few of our guys still getting to grips with their new home track and a plethora of mechanical issues to be sorted this week so a tough task lies ahead.

The Comets have went for a change in team building philosophy this year foregoing the big hitting number 1 they have been used to over the years for a more strength in depth approach with a real punch at the bottom end.

That is not to say they are lacking in the heat leader positions with a trio of riders who will be looking to progress this year and take the number 1 slot. Starting the season in that position is former Newcastle and Glasgow man Rene Bach. Bach looked set to be a real contender on the international stage when he broke into British speedway in 2009. Unfortunately a bad leg break set the former Danish under 21 champion back in his progression. Starting the season on a 7.5 average with plenty of scope for improvement this could be the year he returns to that number 1 status.

Joining Bach in the opening pairing is another of the Hat trick of Danes that will lead the Comets in Rasmus Jensen. Jensen is another returning to British speedway after a year out having spent time with the likes of Plymouth and Somerset in the past alongside his previous spell with the Comets in 2016. With the make up of the Comets line-up Jensen is a key man as a strong looking second string and his performances will go a long way to the success of the Cumbrian outfit.

Breaking the Danish stronghold at the top end of the team is Aussie Ty Proctor. Another who will be looking to challenge for the number 1 race jacket after a promising year last year. It was only a few years ago that Ty was a near 9 point man at this level and with an unbroken run of riding after various visa issues curtailed his racing career he will be looking to get back to that level once again. Never a prolific scorer at Armadale Proctor is still very tough to beat particularly when he hits the front and our middle order will need to be on their toes to subdue his scoring.

Former Monarch Dan Bewley makes up the engine room of the Comets with the young Cumbrian glad to be at his local track to continue his racing education. Bewley was a potential target for the Monarchs during the winter before he opted for the Comets and hopefully he will not come back to haunt us this evening.

Completing the triumvirate of Danes in the Worky team is vastly experienced Nicolai Klindt. Klindt has had somewhat of a nomadic career having had spells with Wolves, Swindon, Kings Lynn, Peterborough, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Leicester and Poole. The majority of that experience coming in the top tier so with a full season ahead at Championship level Klindt will be a powerhouse at this level and another on a bargain looking average of just 7.5 as well this signing looks like a sure-fire winner for the Comets.

Moving to the reserve spots and one of the most talked about youngsters in British speedway Kyle Bickley takes the number 6 spot. Bickley had a plethora of offers during the off season before deciding his hometown Comets were the place for him. Perhaps more renowned on the big tracks with his experience of the National Stadium at Belle Vue it will be very interesting to see how Bickley gets on round the tighter confines of Armadale.

With the make-up of the Comets line-up a strong number 7 will always be in the fold although he plans for this took a massive blow this week when incumbent Mason Campton broke his wrist while practicing at Leicester. This is a huge loss but in the interim the Comets have picked well brining in Bradley Wilson-Dean to deputise as a guest replacement this week. Wilson-Dean is a noted Armadale performer and the Monarchs pairing will need to go some to best him this evening.

So that’s the visitors what about our Blue and Gold heroes. Last week was an encouraging exercise with positives to be taken from all aspects of the team. It was very pleasing to see Joel and Max take their first heat wins in the Blue and Gold, Erik looked in imperious form, Josh was back to his best and Mark would have taken a heat win but for a mistake while leading. Especially considering the strength and experience of the opposition to come out with a victory was very pleasing indeed.

Of course their was a negative side with Matt, Joel, Erik and Max all sustaining damage to their machines and hopefully that was a one off rather than the norm.

So the start of the competitive season is here and a tasty encounter lies ahead who will come out victorious? As always there is only one way to find out and that’s to get yourself to Armadale to cheer on your favourites.

See you there!!