Mark Loram: It's a big year for speedway, Crump's return and praise for 'exciting' Witches
- Credit: Steve Waller
Mark Loram admits he can't wait to get back watching some live speedway, as the season in Britain draws ever nearer.
The former world champion, now 50, who was top of the world in 2000, had his racing career ended in 2007 after a horror crash at Foxhall Stadium.
However, it has never dulled his love of the sport and, along with many thousands of speedway fans, he is looking forward to seeing some action again. The season is set to start next month.
"Yeah, it's been very frustrating for many fans," Loram, who owns Hemingstone Garage, just outside Ipswich, said.
"Last year there was a bit of a crossover between professional sport and non-elite sport and speedway couldn't take place without crowds, while some sport that was considered 'non professional', could.
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"I felt that was tough on speedway because the stadia would easily have coped with the crowds in a safe way.
"So, I think we are all waiting with bated breath now for the start. Good weather would be nice and I know there won't be so many meetings as there usually is in a full fixture list, but quality rather than quantity could be key."
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Loram was one of the most exciting riders of his generation and one of the most popular English riders of all time. He is one of only seven Englishmen to have won the world title.
"A lot of people I speak to are looking forward to going to watch some speedway," he said.
"With there being few other big spectator sports around, especially at the start of the season in May, this could be a big year ahead for speedway.'
"I must admit, I've missed going to Foxhall. I was really looking forward to seeing Jason Crump back last year - I'll have to wait a few more weeks now."
Crump's return to England - for both Ipswich and Plymouth - is something Loram admits is a huge coup for the sport. The pair rode against each other regularly when both were at the top of their game, Crump finishing second in the world final the three years after Loram won it, in 2001, 2002 and 2003, before the Aussie won it for the first time in 2004.
"It's just fantastic for Crumpy to be back in speedway in this country," Loram said.
"It's great for Ipswich and Plymouth (where Crump is doubling up in the Championship) and for the sport in general. It's great for young riders who will have the privilege of riding alongside him.
"He's a very good team man and the advice he can pass down will be invaluable."
Indeed, Loram and Crump go back along way, before their battles for world titles even commenced.
"I've been friends with Jason since he was about 14 or 15, when I first raced in Australia," Loram added. "He's been a good friend on and off the track. I have a lot of respect for him - who wouldn't?
"We were racing against each other in roughly the same era and I think it's safe to say if Tony Rickardsson hadn't been around, Crumpy would be a multi-multi world champion - bearing in mind he already has three world titles.
"I tell you, I found it tough winning the world title once, winning it three times in the company Jason was keeping, is some feat."
Crump, like so many riders in England, is doubling up his racing, with Ipswich in the Premiership and Plymouth in the Championship. Loram says it makes sense.
"If you are coming over to England for the season then why not make the most of it and fit in as many meetings as you can?" he said.
"It's no good sitting at home, you need to race. For Ipswich, he was always a great signing and now for Plymouth, it's great for them to."
Loram rode for Ipswich in two spells during his varied speedway career in England which took him from King's Lynn to Exeter, Bradford to Poole, Peterborough to Eastbourne - everywhere he raced he entertained.
That word - entertainment - being something he feels the 2021 Witches team has in abundance.
"I think Witches fans have a great deal to look forward to this season," he said.
"The likes of Cameron Heeps, Crumpy, Danny King, Drew Kemp, Nicolai Klindt - and the whole team - are all real racers. I like that. It's what you want, riders not giving up. That's all the fans ever ask for and I tried to understand that when I rode."
The 2021 speedway season is set to start on Monday, May 17 and all six teams are now complete.
BELLE VUE: Brady Kurtz, Jye Etheridge, Dan Bewley, Steve Worrall, Ritchie Worrall, Charles Wright and Tom Brennan.
IPSWICH: Cameron Heeps, Nicolai Klindt, Danny King, Jason Crump, Jordan Stewart, Anders Rowe and Drew Kemp.
KING'S LYNN: Lewis Kerr, Thomas Jorgensen, Craig Cook, Lewis Bridger, Ryan Kinsley, Ty Proctor and Erik Riss.
PETERBOROUGH: Michael Palm-Toft, Chris Harris, Hans Andersen, Bjarne Pedersen, Jordan Palin, Ulrich Ostergaard and Scott Nicholls.
SHEFFIELD: Kyle Howarth, Adam Ellis, Jack Holder, Troy Batchelor, Josh Bates, James Wright and Justin Sedgmen.
WOLVES: Ryan Douglas, Rory Schlein, Broc Nicol, Nick Morris, Luke Becker, Sam Masters and Tom Bacon.