DEFENDING CHAMPIONS AT ARLINGTON SATURDAY

Eastbourne Speedway on Saturday (April 28) face the club which pipped them to last year’s National League crown – the Belle Vue Colts.

Tapes rise on the match at the Forman IT Eagles’ home track at Arlington Stadium, just outside Hailsham off the A22, at 7.30pm.

The Manchester side beat Eastbourne in last year’s two-legged Play Off Final to go into the record books as title winners, even though the Sussex outfit topped the regular league table at the end of the season.

'Take the title'

That meant the Eagles had finished second in the league in their last three seasons.

Forman IT Eagles’ team manager, Connor Dugard, said: “That is something we aim to put right this year and take the title. 

“There’s no better way of setting out on that quest by than getting a convincing victory over the defending champions.”

Dugard saw his team hit top gear in the second-half of last Saturday’s match against the Isle of Wight and is urging them to keep up the good work.

'Rode hard'

“We were quite ruthless in the later stages against the Isle of Wight. We gated well, rode hard and showed what a force we are becoming.

“We seem to have got those early season gremlins out of the system and now is the time to lay down a marker for this year’s title race with a convincing win.”

One of the features of the meeting is likely to be when Eagles’ 16-year-old Tom Brennan faces big rival Kyle Bickley.

Both riders came through the ranks of youth speedway and Brennan commented: “Me and Kyle are both very competitive people and have grown up together through racing and there’s always been a bit of a rivalry.”

As usual, the rider introductions on Saturday are at 7.20pm with the first race against the Belle Vue Colts starting at 7.30pm.

Reading v Exeter

The National League match will be followed by a Southern Development League  six-heat match between Reading and Exeter – Reading use the Eastbourne track for their home matches.

*Eastbourne’s second leg of the KO Cup tie against the Isle of Wight takes place on Thursday (April 26).

The Forman IT Eagles will be expecting to successfully defend the 60-30 lead they forged in the first leg.

Dugard said: “We are in a great position but we know the match is not won.

“The aim is to finish the job and get into the quarter final to face Coventry and the best way to do that is to win the second leg too.”

Teams

Eastbourne team on the Isle of Wight:

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

For the home match against Belle Vue, Mark Baseby is unavailable and Danyon Hume (Birmingham and Ipswich)  comes in as a guest.

Belle Vue Colts: Tom Perry, Paul Bowen, Kyle Bickley, Joe Lawlor, Jack Smith, Kean Dicken, Ben Woodhull.