PREVEW: New season opens at Hearsall Common
The tapes will fly up on the new Cycle Speedway season Sunday (6th March) at Hearsall Common, when Coventry entertain long established Norwich in a challenge match. The first race is at 2pm.
It is now five years since a miraculous revival of the sport took place in Coventry. The wheels has turned in an ever upwards direction, with the Hearsall Common club now back at the very top of the sport.
Helped by the national boom in cycling, the Coventry club is thriving on all fronts. Record numbers of riders, officials and volunteers have helped the club to its highest ever water mark since their formation in 1978 – capped by their recent elevation to the top tier Elite league.
Off the track they have also enjoyed record sponsorship and income, have revived the Brandon track at Bretford to increase local participation and their triumphant promotion of last summer’s Great Britain V Australia Test match was their finest hour.
Such is their progress, there is growing speculation that the go-ahead club are looking to re-locate to a new proposed built venue, complete with changings rooms, floodlights and spectator amenities. Talks are currently on-going.
This winter, the club have signed a whole array of world class riders to allow them to be competitive in the Elite League, including three times British champion Andy Angell, World junior champion Shane Bentley, Polish firebrand Prezmek Binkowski and former British junior champion Jake Read.
The match with Norwich will be the first meeting between the clubs for over 30 years. The teams last met in 1979 in the British Team championship, when Coventry went down 89-88 in a stormy last heat decider in Norfolk. Coventry had led 49-41 at half time.
Sunday’s match will be a perfect work-out for Coventry as they warm-up for their first season back in the big time. Underlining the local strength at his disposal, Coventry team boss Lee Marsh names a strong combination – who all live in the Coventry area and who are all fully owned Coventry assets.
They will be led by their three pronged heat leader trio of Myke Grimes, Bobby McMillan and Dominik Rycharski. There is a shock recall for the explosive talent of Kyle Roberts, who missed all of last season with an arm injury.
Lining-up at number one for Coventry will be home grown Dan Drewett, one of their most promising riders. Now 18 years old, and super fit and totally dedicated, Drewett will enter his fourth season in the sport knowing he has the ability to reach the very top.Marsh also gives opportunities to fast improving local juniors Matthew Hambridge and Ollie Morris, whilst loyal clubman Matthew Lawrence completes the side.
Coventry will be without their top nationally ranked veteran riders Dave Frith and Joe McLaughlin. Frith is concentrating on veterans racing this year, whilst McLaughlin is still recovering from illness.
Coventry team: 1 Dan Drewett 2 Bobby McMillan 3 Myke Grimes 4 Matthew Lawrence 5 Kyle Roberts 6 Dominik Rycharski 7 Ollie Morris 8 Matthew Hambridge
The two teams continue their early season preparations by racing a return challenge match in Norwich next Sunday, 13th March.
The first home Elite league match of the season at Hearsall Common will be on Sunday, 3rd April, when Ipswich will provide the powerful opposition. The tapes will rise at 2pm to herald in the new Elite League era.
Meanwhile, ever keen to encourage the next wave of Coventry `handlebar heroes`, the club start their ever popular `Clubnight` this Wednesday evening, 9th March, at Hearsall Common.
Continuing every Wednesday, the evening is spilt into two parts. At 6pm, newcomers and younger riders take centre stage. Bikes and safety equipment are provided for first time newcomers. The first session is free to all first-times, with a nominal charge of just £1 (including bike hire) thereafter.
From 7pm, the more established juniors, second team riders, veteran riders and senior riders take to the track for intensive practice and training. Once again, the club charge just £1 for these sessions on an international standard track and Coventry`s only off-road cycling facility.
For more information on Coventry Cycle Speedway club, please go to: www.coventrycyclespeedway.co.uk
Remember to send in your previews and match reports for your opening matches!