Wilkinson's Elite League gamble
IPSWICH Witches star Carl Wilkinson has revealed that he is virtually riding for fun in the Elite League.The 28-year-old, who has been scorching to a succession of good scores for the Witches from a reserve berth, doubles up at Foxhall with his Premier League club Scunthorpe.
IPSWICH Witches star Carl Wilkinson has revealed that he is virtually riding for fun in the Elite League.
The 28-year-old, who has been scorching to a succession of good scores for the Witches from a reserve berth, doubles up at Foxhall with his Premier League club Scunthorpe.
But without financial backing he is spending out as much as he is getting in to remain competitive at the top level.
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Wilkinson is one of a limited number of English riders brave enough to put his helmet in the ring to try and escape the comfort zone that is the lower division and make it to the top of the speedway ladder.
Great Britain's standing on the international scene is as low as it has ever been with their two representatives in the world title Grand Prix series - Scott Nicholls and Chris Harris - struggling to make any impact.
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The structure of the shale sport in this country needs a radical upheaval and Wilkinson says it could be 10 years before a British-produced rider makes a serious challenge for the world title again after Stowmarket-based Mark Loram won in 2000.
“If I sat down and worked it out my income would not be far different whether I rode in the Elite League or not,” said Wilkinson.
“I could earn as much just riding for Scunthorpe.
“You need a heavy investment in machinery to be any good in the top flight and things I can get away with at Premier League level I cannot with Ipswich.
“It is sad that there is such a low investment in producing British riders.
“On the continent good sponsors enable youngsters to have good equipment and many have training facilities they can use every day.
“I have a good sponsor or two and they are around, but we badly need more to come onboard and help.
“The Elite League is not unreachable for someone like me, but it would need more financial backing.
“We are 10 years too late, but training schools are now starting up at places like Buxton and I have been helping youngsters at Scunthorpe.
“It could be 10 years down the line that we see British riders coming through again.”
Wilkinson maintains one engine suitable for Ipswich meetings, and he reveals that it was a gamble to try and improve himself by taking on the big boys.
“It was a gamble, and there is so much planning to do getting bikes ready, having to make the most of any rare two or three day breaks,” he added.
“If not it does your head in. I have no alternative than to be virtually a full-time rider although I do some engineering work and sometimes spend a day working on fishing boats near my home.”
Wilkinson, David Howe and Witches No.8 Jerran Hart were originally included in tonight's Anglian Pairs meeting at Foxhall Stadium (start 7.30pm) but Scunthorpe now have a fixture.
Ipswich stars Scott Nicholls and Robert Miskowiak also have other commitments, but the Foxhall faithful will have a chance to see former Witches Chris Schramm, Shane Parker, Tomas Topinka and Tom P Madsen in action.
Witches skipper Daniel King makes his return after injury and will partner his brother Jason.
There will be normal admission prices with the 'Kids Go Free' offer applying.
Tonight's expected field: C Schramm and S Parker, D and J King, T Topinka and J Graversen, T Kroner and D Stachyra, T Batchelor and J Haines, S Robson and T P Madsen.