Eastbourne’s Speedway boss is urging his team to “hit the ground running” this weekend as they begin the quest for the 2018 National League title.

Three times in the last three years the club has finished second.

“We need to put that right and take the top step on the rostrum this year,” Connor Dugard said.

The Forman IT Eagles’ team manager said it was important to get early points on the board.

Set a marker

“That’s what we aim to do. I

“t is up to the team to set a marker for this year’s title fight so the other clubs know what they are up against,” he added.

The riders, who have had to sit and watch the rain fall as meeting after meeting has been cancelled because of the weather, now face a busy spell.

On Friday (April 13) the Eagles are at Plymouth in the National Trophy.

On Saturday (April 14) they face Buxton at home in the National League.

On Sunday (April 15) the Eagles face Coventry in a league match which will be ridden at Leicester’s stadium.

Long trip

Dugard said: “Victory at Plymouth will allow us to take an early grip on our section of the National Trophy. 

“A year ago, we had a stunning win at Plymouth and we will make the long trip to south Devon with high hopes.”

It will be the Eagles’ first team match of the season.

The visit of Buxton on Saturday will see a return to Arlington for Connor Coles, who this time last year was an Eagle.

Dugard said: “This is a match we expect to win and get three points under our belt.

“Having said that, in past seasons Buxton have given us more trouble here than we would have expected so we must take nothing for granted.”

It will be Buxton’s first match of the year.

22 races on Saturday

Fans coming to Arlington on Saturday night will see 22 races during the evening.

After the 15-heat league match, there is a Southern Development League Chesil Radio Challenge individual meeting, put on by the Weymouth Wildcats.

The Dorset club are using Arlington this year for home meetings and their meeting will be over seven heats.

Supporters are reminded that the parade at Arlington this season will be a 7.20pm with the first National League race coming to tapes at 7.30pm.

There will be no interval during the match, just a pause before heat 15.

A brief interval to allow for some track work will follow the end of the league match before the start of the junior racing.

Eastbourne team for Friday and Saturday:

Eastbourne: Mark Baseby, Kelsey Dugard, Tom Brennan, Charley Powell, Georgie Wood, Charlie Brooks, Jason Edwards.

Buxton: Ben Wilson, Corban Pavitt, Tom Woolley, David Wallinger, Connor Coles, Kieran Douglas, Lewis Whitmore.

Chesil Radio Challenge riders: 1 Bailey Fellows, 2 Jacob Fellows, 3 Jordan Bull, 4 Connor Fletcher, 5 Luke Barnes, 6 Andrew Palmer, 7 James Spencer, 8 James Jessop.

*The British U-21 final has been switched from Birmingham to Berwick and will take place on Tuesday, May 1.

Forman IT Eagle Jason Edwards has qualified from the semi-final held at Arlington Saturday.

The other semi-final at Newcastle, due to be staged the following day and featuring Eagles’ Kelsey Dugard, was rained off.

It will now be held next Wednesday (April 18) at Birmingham.