Junior meetings are speedway's lifeline

THE future of British speedway depends on junior meetings like the one at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.30pm).

Elvin King

THE future of British speedway depends on junior meetings like the one at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.30pm).

Without them Ipswich Evening Star Witches training instructor Brian Messenger says that Great Britain will cease to have any interest in grand prix and world cup events.

It is 16 years since Foxhall staged any competitive youth races. However, an academy Ipswich side take on Rye House and Poole in a 15-heat three-team tournament tonight.

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“Scott Nicholls and Chris Harris are carrying the flag for Britain at the moment,” said Messenger. “But neither looks like securing an automatic place in next year's GP series.

“And who is there under them? Who is ready to step into their shoes?

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“The next one is Tai Woffinden, and Britain cannot take any credit for him as he was brought up in Perth, Western Australia.

“When Jim Lynch announced his original world cup squad there was only four or five British riders from the Elite League who were not included with our Chris Schramm one of them.

“If we don't start looking at ways of bringing on young riders soon we will disappear off the international speedway map and cease to have any meaningful interest in the grand prix and world cup.”

Messenger cannot see the likes of Eddie Kennett and Lewis Bridger coming through and added: “With respect I cannot see them making it.

“From Scotty and Bomber there is no English rider who is going to trouble the world's best until we come down to Tai.”

Messenger was team manager of the Ipswich junior side that included the likes of Savalas Clouting, Ben Howe, Lawrence Hare, Shaun Tacey and Leigh Lanham and was wound up in 1992.

“It has been that long since we rode a competitive junior meeting at Ipswich,” said Messenger, who will be helped tonight by Witches trainer coach Jeremy Doncaster.

And Ipswich, who had a team full of local riders in John Berry's days as promoter, have not produced a quality local product since Nicholls.

“The frustrating thing is that the boys are out there,” stressed Messenger. “It is a case of giving them a chance.

“Jeremy is doing a fantastic job, and our youngsters listen to him - and have learned a great deal.

“This meeting will give them some invaluable time on the track.”

Ipswich have three 15-year-olds in their team and one 14-year-old. Jake Knight, the son of former Witch Richard Knight, will be joined by Oliver Rayson, 15, Rhys Naylor, 15, and Joe Jacobs, 14.

There will also be three heats and a final in a champion of the evening event, plus four veteran races by the 'men in black'.

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