FIRST BIG DERBY OF SEASON
Eastbourne Speedway face potentially their biggest home test of the season so far on Saturday (May 12) when the Kent Kings are the visitors to Arlington Stadium.
In four home matches this year, the Forman IT Eagles have twice hit the 60-point mark, rattled up 61 against the Belle Vue Colts, with the “worst” performance being 56 points against the Isle of Wight last Saturday.
Speedway history shows red-hot rivalry between Eastbourne and their neighbours from over the border.
Last September, Kent ended a long-running sequence of home wins for Eastbourne, while the Eagles dumped the Kings out of the Play Offs the following month at the semi-final stage.
Both teams are champing at the bit to get to grips with each other after the traditional Easter challenge matches earlier this year were washed out.
Kent’s struggles with the weather meant they did not begin their home fixtures until last Monday (May 7).
Eastbourne team manager Connor Dugard said it was a match where all riders were capable of winning races.
“It’s fascinating when you look at the teams. All the riders are capable of beating their opposite numbers.
“There will be some big races between all of the riders. Everyone in both teams is beatable and that sets this up as potentially a great match, let alone it being the first local derby of the season.”
Dugard has to field a weakened team because Charley Powell is riding in a European grass track meeting.
As a result, the rider replacement (R/R) rule will be used to cover Powell’s four programmed rides.
Eligible riders are Tom Brennan, Kelsey Dugard plus reserves Jason Edwards and Charlie Brooks.
Dugard admitted their task would be harder without Powell, who has been putting in big scores from the No 4 position.
He will use the R/R facility at No 2, moving Kelsey Dugard to the No 4 slot.
Kent reserve Jacob Clouting – son of former Eagle Savalas Clouting – is out of the match with a broken foot.
First race in this National Trophy meeting on Saturday is at 7.30pm.
Eastbourne: Mark Baseby, R/R, Tom Brennan, Kelsey Dugard, Georgie Wood, Jason Edwards, Charlie Brooks.
King: Luke Bowen, Anders Rowe, Nathan Stoneman, Taylor Hampshire, Jack Thomas, James Laker, Alex Spooner.
*In the second half, Reading take on the Kent Kestrels in a Southern Development League match.
*Brennan Jason Edwards and Charlie Brooks have all been nominated to ride in the British U-19 Final at Ipswich.
Pictured: Kelsey Dugard by Tiffani Graveling