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HERE will be a different look to the National Development League next season after a 36-point limit was agreed at last week’s AGM.

Many of this season’s top riders, and also those with extensive experience, will move out of the third tier as NDL places will not be available to those who have achieved a Championship average of 4.00 or above.

That means the likes of Connor Bailey, Jordan Jenkins, Dan Thompson, Alfie Bowtell, Max Clegg and Henry Atkins – many of whom may well have been focusing on the higher levels anyway – are now ineligible.

The move has been made in order to free up places lower down for new riders as part of the youth development strategy, although previous rumours of an even lower limit or a grading system did not transpire into reality.

• Ipswich-bound Adam Ellis. Picture: JEFF DAVIES

Six clubs will compete with the exits of Kent, Mildenhall and Berwick already known prior to the AGM, with Workington up heading into the Championship, and it means the NDL will be fully made up of clubs who also operate at senior level.

Champions Oxford, Leicester, Belle Vue and Edinburgh return from 2023 and are joined by Redcar, operating at this level for the first time since 2008, and a combined Scunthorpe/ Sheffield team which enjoyed title success the last time they joined forces back in 2011.

Race format and league scoring will be the same as in the senior leagues – with no tactical substitutes in the NDL – but the big change is that the play-offs have been dispensed with, following chaos in the last two seasons with the Grand Final hit by repeated delays and postponements, being staged on November 4 in 2022 and over one leg on October 31 this year.

Instead, the champions will be decided simply on the basis of the league table after a one home, one away schedule, meaning ten matches in total, with no KO Cup.

Those matches are to be supplemented by the other aspects of the Youth programme, including the new National League Riders’ Development Series, which is set to visit several tracks for stand-alone Individual events featuring the top two available riders from each club.

Those clubs not competing in the NDL or staging a meeting in the Development Series must instead take part in the second-half Development Programme, but clubs are able to be involved in more than one of the options.

And the entry criteria for the British Youth Championship has been modified with the 500cc category now open to riders aged under 17 on January 1, 2024, rather than under 16.

Witches move in for Ellis

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PSWICH manager Ritchie Hawkins has revealed the Witches’ move for GB international Adam Ellis was one that was in the pipeline even before this year’s play-offs. Ellis has returned to Foxhall, where he had a spell at Championship level around a decade ago, on a knock-down topflight average of under six, to add further firepower to the Foxhall ranks.

His loss of form at Sheffield this summer, leading to him being replaced at Owlerton, was something of a mystery – but Hawkins is confident the former Swindon title-winner can flourish again in 2024.

He said: “I spoke to Adam not long after he left Sheffield regarding next season.

“Chris (Louis) and I had a long discussion well before the end of last season, and we said the plan was definitely going to be to keep Emil (Sayfutdinov) and Jason (Doyle).

“I said Adam was one I thought we should be looking to bring in on that average, and he fits into the team well.

“I know him from being a team-mate of his, and everyone at the club still has very good things to say about him – every season I’m asked when I’m going to bring Adam back!

“I’m delighted to give him that opportunity and yes, he had a bad year this year but hopefully being with us, at a place he knows with a good atmosphere and he’s friends with Doyley, he’ll get straight back into the form he’s still been showing on the continent.”

Ellis effectively takes the place of Erik Riss in a Witches side which shows two changes from 2023, as re-installed Rising Star Dan Thompson will now be joined by Jordan Jenkins.


The former Peterborough racer moves out of the Rising Star berth, with the Witches taking advantage of the 25 per cent discount on his average, a decision which spelt bad news for club asset Danyon Hume.

Hawkins said: “I would say out of the whole seven members of (this year’s) team, the longest discussions we’ve had were over Danyon.

“He ticks every box really, he’s great to have in the team, he gives absolutely everything, and he took some big scalps this year.

“I know he really wanted to be back so it was a hard one, but I think maybe we needed one other change to freshen it up a bit more, and Jordan has progressed steadily over the years and can kick on.

“Hopefully those two changes will give us enough of a boost, and I also wish Erik all the best and I hope he can get back to where we know he can be.

“Jordan was second-halving at Ipswich not that many years ago and we talked then about when he would be ready to come into the team, and I’ve been delighted to see his progress so he can now come in at No. 6.”

December 9, 2023 speedway star 5

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