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Monarchs Academy E

DINBURGH have announced exciting plans for two new training tracks – as they look to provide a full progression route for aspiring young Scottish racers.

The Armadale club are back in the National Development League this season and will also be entering the Northern Junior League with the West Lothian Wildcats, but their pathway to those levels will go right back to riders taking their initial motorcycle laps.

The opening step of the Monarchs Speedway Academy plan provides for the creation of a small inflatable track to be used by very young children on balance bikes, with the emphasis on fun, and to hopefully create dreams of going higher in the sport.

Monarchs will also be installing a mini speedway track on the centregreen at their stadium, which will enable youngsters to ride on 50cc Peewee machines before progressing to formal training and competition at 125cc level.

Such circuits have already proved hugely successful elsewhere, with the British Youth 150cc Championship taking place on the ‘inner’ Swindon track in 2015 featuring the likes of Jason Edwards, Leon Flint and Jordan Palin.

From 250cc level and above, training and competition will move to the main circuit, with Monarchs hoping to progress riders to 500cc level, then the NJL, the NDL and finally into the Championship.

And co-promoter John Campbell admits he’s excited by the scheme which should provide a realistic opportunity to bring through new groups of racers from north of the border.

He said: “We are delighted to be taking these first steps into developing the next generation of Scottish speedway riders.

“By establishing two reduced-size tracks, we will begin to establish a progression pathway for aspiring young riders.

“The ultimate aim is to have a rider progress from the entry-level inflatable track, all the way through to the Monarchs team in due course.

“New riders can get involved at the level most appropriate to them and progress from there. The beauty of the system is that there will always be a next step for riders to develop.

“Previously we had no platform to enter the sport at youth level. With the Monarchs Speedway Academy, local kids can get involved and dream of going all the way to Scottish Champion and beyond.”

Initial funding for the venture is to be supported by the Monarchs 100 Group, who hosted a successful auction in 2020 and approached the club with plans to stage another later this month.

Campbell added: “We outlined our new youth development plans to the Monarchs 100, to which Derek Wilkinson and Scott Wilson replied that they would be delighted to host the auction to support the funding required, for which the club is very grateful.”

T Somerset sale OMERSET’S function room has been sold – but reports claim the speedway track remains unaffected. The Hancock family were quoted in burnham-on-Sea.com as Speedway Star went to press on Tuesday with the reasons behind the sale.

SBut the article signed off by saying the change of ownership doesn’t impact the farm, speedway track and other surrounding business activities at the Oaktree Arena.

Somerset stood down from this season’s Championship due to a lack of revenue from the function room with weddings, conferences and other events cancelled in the last year.

Co-promoter Garry May told Speedway Star early this year he fully expects the team to return in 2022 at Championship level.

Running a professional speedway club at the venue with no other revenue was always a risk which the Hancock family felt was too great after such a tough year.

The family stated: “It is with sadness and regret that after 13 years, due to the Covid pandemic, we have taken the difficult decision and decided to sell The Oaktree.

“For us it is difficult to see large events being allowed indoors for some months yet and, having been closed since March 2020, after our usual very quiet months of January and February and potentially a large part of 2021, as a small family business it is regrettably very hard to continue in the future.

“Things are no way 100 per cent with indoor events. The conditions in place for small events mean extra staff and extra costs, which is just not viable for us and our business.

“Any event organisers with functions booked in the diary for the end part of the year will be contacted personally by email and deposits refunded in full within the next seven days. This obviously means no further bookings will be taken.

“However, we are pleased to announce the purchasers are another family run concern, but operating a completely different business to that of hospitality. We, as a family, wish them well for the future.”

Speedway Star will have more on this story in next week’s issue.

Bewley’s on pole

HERE was a time fairly recently when British riders competing in Poland’s Ekstraliga were a rare breed. So fans in the UK will be delighted to see three of them lining up in one meeting this Friday.

A Wroclaw side featuring triple World Champion Tai Woffinden and Dan Bewley hosts a Torun team starring European Champion Robert Lambert.

Woffy’s run as the sole Brit in Poland’s top flight ended after Lambert helped Lublin earn promotion to the Ekstraliga for 2019 and followed them up, before moving to Rybnik last season. Bewley, meanwhile, made his Ekstraliga debut with Wroclaw in 2020.

Polish bosses have introduced a new rule requiring every club to track an under-24 rider in their top five for 2021 – a spot open to home and international youngsters.

With just eight of those positions on offer in the Ekstraliga, they were only going to go to the best up-and-coming talent. So it’s a huge boost to British speedway to see Lambert and Bewley occupying two of those berths.

“It’s pretty cool,” Bewley said. “A couple of years ago, it was only Tai. Now we have a couple more riders in the league and it is better for British speedway. Hopefully we can just keep getting a little bit stronger every year.”

As much as British clubs are keen to develop their own talent, becoming a star in Poland is the goal of any rider seeking to truly become an international superstar in the sport.

The emergence of Lambert and Bewley alongside Woffinden is proof that Britain’s youngsters can make it at the highest level.

“Poland is where you want to be in the sport at the moment,” Bewley said. “We have got there and there is no reason why any rider can’t get there.”

For years it was claimed that British riders couldn’t cut the mustard on Polish tracks and that their equipment wasn’t fast enough.

It’s certainly not a criticism you could level at Woffinden, who has clinched all three of his world titles in Torun. Lambert landed his 2020 European title solely on Polish tracks – sealing his place in the 2021 Speedway Grand Prix series by fending off Leon Madsen in an epic final showdown – also in Torun.

Bewley defied a difficult start to last year after struggling for form and then finding himself on the sidelines with a broken shoulder blade.

continued on page 9

April 10, 2021 speedway star 3

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