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PETER OAKES Contributor: Brian Owen

It happened THIS WEEK

GINO Manzares will begin his fight to win a new visa this month – just weeks after he was in intensive care.

Manzares, who lost his team spot at Ipswich when he failed to meet the work visa criteria, is desperate to return to the Premier League next season.

And to be guaranteed the green light to resume his British career, he has to finish in the top four in this year’s American Championship.

Because he didn’t take part last season, he has to begin his assault in the qualifying round at Perris Raceway, California, on April 30.

okay now but I can’t fight for a year.”

He has, though, been cleared to get back on a bike and will be in the 16-strong qualifying line-up at Perris.

He added: “I did four laps a month or two months ago but other than that I haven’t had a meeting since last October.

“I’m desperate to get back to England and I have got to make sure I’m in the top six and then do well in the nationals.

“I’m absolutely cheesed off not to be over there again and I’m ready to race. I was working two jobs just trying to get a lot of things together.

“I’ve just qualified as a fitness trainer and boxing coach but ultimately I want to get back racing in England.”

■ IT’S not often that you can visit a Track Shop and be served by a rider.

But the odds are that will be the case if you pop along to Sheffield’s Owlerton Stadium where newly retired Ashley Birks is now very much the commercial guru.

He’s revamped the merchandise range and says: “I took over this year with the intention of giving our whole merchandise range a facelift.

“So far, the response has been great and I’m always looking to develop our product base.”

His target of a top six spot – to book his place in the four-round Championship series – looked a lost hope when he was rushed to the University of California’s Irvine Medical Centre with a head injury.

I caught up with Gino as he was relaxing, fishing for bass at Canyon Lake reservoir in Riverside County.

He’s been combining his racing with an off-track martial arts career and explained how he came to end up in intensive care: “I got injured in training. I’ve been fighting at featherweight or bantamweight but went training in the gym with some heavyweights and got hurt and had bleeding on the brain.

“Thankfully, I’m

■ WE’LL have to get used to no Tuesday night Swedish ElitSerien action this summer.

That’s the bad news – but it’s countered by the better news that Eurosport will still be covering the eight-club competition this year.

This time around though, it will be a recorded highlights package and you’ll have to make sure you’ve got a TV Planner to make sure you catch the hour-long show.

The first – likely to major on the repeat of last year’s Grand Final between Elit Vetlanda and Indianerna – programme will go out on Wednesday, May 4 at the somewhat unusual time of 8.30 am!

The second week’s offering is on Wednesday, May 11, starting at 11.45 am.

Clearly there’s likely to be repeats at more convenient times, otherwise it’s definitely a matter of

QUOTE OF THE WEEK I “We are in the right place, in a league which has such a lot going for it, and my enthusiasm has been further enhanced due to the enthusiasm of the riders.” Birmingham boss Graham Drury making it plain that the title-winning Brummies DON’T have their sights set on the Premier League –

at least not yet!

14 speedway star April 16, 2016

making sure you check the schedule.

You can do that at www.tv. eurosport.co.uk/tvschedule.shtml

AUSSIE rider Brett Saunders, who had eight different clubs during a 14-year career racing in Britain, must be a proud dad.

Brett met and married his wife Wendy while he was at Edinburgh and they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary early this month.

Now it’s their teenage son Joel who is the sporting prodigy, having been presented with the Bill Matheson Shield as Queensland Country Cricket Under-19 Player of the Year at the Allan Border Fields in Brisbane.

It marks him out as one of Australian’s most promising young talents.

Brett, who spent the bulk of his days racing in Edinburgh’s colours, making more than 350 official appearance for the Monarchs before spending his last UK season at Middlesbrough and Sheffield in 1993, said: “Joel has played since he was seven and started playing representative cricket for our region, Wide Bay, Queensland, from 10, and has been a regular ever since.

“He’s been involved with Queensland Emerging Player camps when they have them.”

It isn’t always easy either as the Saunders now live in rural Queensland, around 240 miles from Brisbane, which means a lot of travel for the talented Joel.

Brett went on: “The country kids get very little help from the top coaches. Joel is a wicketkeeper/bat, all that with hardly any expert coaching.

“He’s represented and captained the Queensland Country Under-19s numerous times and is still eligible next season He was also captain of South Queensland and Wide Bay.”

Last year, Joel was actually in the UK, playing for Rossie Priory, Scotland’s second oldest cricket club which has its home pitch in the picturesque grounds of Lord Kinnaird’s 2,000 acre estate at Inchture, near Dundee, as their overseas player.

Added Brett: “He received offers to return to the UK this season but declined for now. This year, he started playing Brisbane grade cricket for Sunshine Coast, a four-hour drive away, but travelling got the better of him towards the end.

“Now he’s playing AFL again during the off season.”

How far Joel will go and whether he will, one day, revisit

PETERBOROUGH schoolboy David Howe was called into theYoung England team to faceYoung Russia in the opening Under-21 Test match at Stoke.

The 16-year-old became the youngest rider to represent his country, beating the previous record held by Dave Jessup since 1969.

WEEK

GREG Hancock was preparing to celebrate 10 years in B ritish speedway with a testimonial meeting at Coventry, which featured a match race between American stars Bruce Penhall and Dennis Sigalos.

KING’S LYNN signed Ben Howe on loan from local rivals Ipswich after Piotr Protasiewicz was ruled out through a back injury.

IS

POOLE announced a fivefigure sponsorship deal with Hair Arena. Speedway Star reported: “The Poole-based artistic hair design company is owned by Matt Ford, who has supported P irates since the age of six. Ford, a 32-yearold Dorset businessman, has negotiated a 12-month deal with the club and the team will ride under the name of Poole Hair Arena P irates throughout 1998.”

TH

Week-ending April 18

1998

Britain in an Australian Ashes squad remains to be seen.

“He’s up there in the mix,” says Brett, adding: “It’s all up to him as to how far he wants to take it.

“As for riding speedway, I’m glad he doesn’t. I get nervous enough watching cricket!”

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