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Grand Prix Star

Number of posts : 5627
Age : 53
Location : The good side of the bridge
Team : Newport Wasps
Reputation : 139
Points : 6047
Registration date : 2007-11-13

Roll Dice: 1

PostSubject: Speedway Star Preview    Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:25 pm

Speedway Star's Prediction for the Season - 15th of 17

If there was one thing Newport were without in 2007 it was an out-and-out No.1 rider - the inclusion of which could easily have taken them into mid-table or higher.

So there was a general relief amongst Wasps supporters when their club were the beneficiaries of the average confusion which scuppered Craig Watson's Elite League deal with Poole - and the Australian subsequently chose to re-join his former club.

Watson's average from the second half of last season with Glasgow was the source of the Pirates' problems, with the rulebook stating that a rider with both Elite and Premier averages from one season would have the higher of t hose figures applying should he transfer leagues again over the winter.

It put him out of contention at Wimborne Road and with three Premier League clubs strongly chasing his services Newport kept their interest low key and were rewarded when the rider elected to come back to familiar surroundings.

Promoter Tim Stone said: "It was the case that we lacked a genuine No. 1 rider last season, although I would stress that when we brought Michal Rajkowski in at the last minute it wasn't as a replacement for Craig it was as his own man.

"Michal did a good job for us and we fully understood that he wanted to try Elite League racing this year, but e now have someone in Craig who has grown up with us, and we're very pleased to have him back this season.

"I know he's looking forward to it, and I'm sure we'll all enjoy it together."

Watson's return gives the Wasps a focal point, and a rider who can go out and win the big races, but if he is the known quantity in the line-up, the men who start alongside him with heat leader averages have much to learn.

But Stone insists that his team members will not be put under undue pressure, and his record in previous years confirms that riders are given ample opportunity to find their feet.

It will undoubtedly be a learning curve for Polish rider Marek Mroz in particular, but his winter form has given everyone at the club optimism that he can make the grade in the Premier League.

Fellow countryman Sebastian Truminski is the other rider who comes in on an assessed average, although he has had the advantage of a decent 'taster' of the competition during spells with both the Wasps and Berwick last year.

And Stone feels that Truminski in particular has the potential to step up and offer good top level support for Watson.

He said: "I've heard this term 'key man' before and I don't agree with it. There are seven men in a team and it's not one man who wins a meeting or one man who loses a meeting. It's about all seven, and I'm looking for all seven to do their jobs.

"I don't want pressure put on riders before the start, I don't think that's fair to anyone as they've come to us to make up a team.

"we're giving Marek his shot He was very keen to come to us during last season but understood why that wasn't possible, and he's stuck around with us and waited for his chance and I wouldn't read too much into his New Year Classic performance. He's looked very good on the track since then.

"I'm very pleased to be able to bring Seb back, and he'll be a good team man for us. Right from the word go, when we got him in at Berwick last season, he was looking for his partner and I believe we have several men in the team like that. I'm sure that Seb can only be good for us."

There is plenty of experience at second string, and on several occasions last season captain Tony Atkin was able to produce scores of heat leader standard.

Both rider and club have a healthy respect for each other, and it was no surprise when he was confirmed as a starter at an early date.

Much later came the signing of Paul Clews, on loan from Reading, who had been unlucky to sit out the majority of the 2007 campaign after his average failed to fit in anyone's plans, and had been looking at the possibility of a similar situation this time around.

Stone said: "I feel that in the middle order we have solid, consistent scorers home and away. You'd certainly put Tony into that category, and he's a rider who always willing to help his team mates. He's an ideal captain and well respected in the pits.

"Paul will score well for us he looked very good at press and practice. I k now exactly what he can do, and I'm quite sure we'll get more out of Paul over his 2007 season."

At reserve, Wasps were forced into a change of plan last month as they initially been intending to track an unchanged partnership of Nick Simmons and Barry Burchatt, who gave the team some good strength in depth last season - Burchatt making a good impression when he joined in May.

However, although there were no problems with the return of Simmons, Wasps' plans to buy Burchatt from parent club Rye House came to nothing when the rider was unable to make himself available for the season due to work commitments.

That took Stone briefly back to the drawing board, but the name of Jerran Hart has been on several promoters' radars for the last six months or so, and an impressive practice session at the Hayley Stadium was enough to see the 17 year old handed the second reserve berth, on loan from Lakeside.

Stone said: "Nick did a good job for us last year, despite having a scaphoid injury, he came back and upped his average and put in some very good, solid performances at reserve.

"We were hoping to have Barry back with him to carry on that partnership, and hopefully we might still have him back in the future. We were in the process of purchasing him Rye House, so that will have to go on hold for the moment.

"Jerran was recommended to us, and when he came down here for a practice I certainly liked what I saw. I believe we have a young man there who will make a big impression on British speedway and we're looking forward to having him in our colours."

Despite some difficult times in recent years, albeit with a much improved home record in 2007, Wasps teams of late have been well renowned for a good atmosphere in the pits between the riders.

It's an atmosphere which Stone feels should continue this year, and he also believes the club's supporters, should be able to relate to the riders in what seems likely to be an entertaining team.

He said: "Just about everyone in the team knows each other, and everyone was talking together straight away. I think we've got a good mix, and it was good to get almost everyone together at practice, and get that team unit feeling back together again.

"I'm quite sure it will be a workmanlike team, with different people popping up at different moments and causing surprises.

"I do feel we made progress last year even though we were in the lower reaches of the table. Since then, we've lost Michal and we also sold Wilko (Carl Wilkinson), but we've signed Seb and Marek to add to our asset base, and we do want to build the club up.

"I feel we have a really attractive team which I hope the supporters will take to. It's good speedway here, and also there is plenty to choose from for the fans to latch on to their own favourite.

"There's many facets to this team. It's made up of many different types of riders, and I think it will be an interesting and enjoyable season."

As far as the Premier League as a whole is concerned, Stone is predicting a tight battle with a number of close meetings throughout the season - and he is also pleased to see the expansion in numbers again.

He said: "A warm welcome to Scunthorpe this year, and it's also very nice to see Mark Legg in at Reading. Mark was a good friend to Newport Speedway in recent years, and I wish him well.

"It was a competitive league last year, we missed out on the Young Shield play off place by one point and I'm quite sure it will be the same this year.

"It will be very open, and now that the aggregate point has gone it will be very interesting to see which teams are at the top end of the league.

"Once again we're looking forward to the season. You never know what people are going to do until they get on track, but as it stands at the moment I'm quite pleased with what we've put together."

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