Picture courtesy of Steve Dixon
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By Derek Barclay
Preparations are now nearing completion for the much anticipated return of Speedway to Central Park, Sittingbourne with the Kent TouchTec Kings due to get their season and British Speedway’s Championship division back up and running with the visit of reigning champions Leicester Lions on Tuesday 18th May (with a 6.30pm start time).
And this week team boss Chris Hunt will be able to run the rule over the team pairings he will put in place for the start of the 2021 season, when the Kings convene at a track in the Midlands for a fully-fledged team practice session. He told the SFM Sports Team: “I have a pretty good idea what the team riding order will be but this week’s practice day will confirm or perhaps amend my thinking – we’ll see how it all works out. We are looking at it in terms of partnerships, who we think will ride well together in the most productive way for the team as a whole. “
After such a long tine without track time it’s been crucial for all the riders to grab what practice opportunities have been available across a number of circuits in the UK and this week meeting all together as a team is the most important session yet. Hunt recognises the vital significance of this: “The track time especially spent together will be really crucial for us – vital for us to work things out really .
The day in the Midlands will also see the debut of the TouchTec-sponsored Kings’ brand new race suits and, with no local media launch day at their home track possible due to the tight nature of the proposed relaxation in Lockdown rules to the opening meeting, the photo opportunities at the practice day will give fans the first chance via pictures taken on the day to see how smartly attired
their heroes will be come May 18th.
Those preparations back home are, of course, about getting the stadium fully compliant in terms of a Covid-safe environment. Regarding admission, they’ll be an announcement on May 11th. about the arrangements for buying tickets in advance for the first set of fixtures at Central Park – this hinging on the confirmation expected to be rubber stamped by the Government the day before that outdoor sporting events can start welcoming supporters back to arenas from May 17th.
With a 18 months enforced hiatus affecting the sport across the UK, at Central Park it’s been a case of making sure all the Speedway infrastructure is as raring to go as the riders are - as co--promoter Len Silver explained: “The track itself is looking good and last week-end we placed the air bags in position and gave a full test of all the electrical equipment like the starting gates and track lights.”
There’s some change coming off track too which Mr Silver also made comment on: “Supporters may have picked up the news that Arena Racing Company, who own several Horse Racing tracks as well as other Greyhound venues across the UK, have agreed to take over Cearnsport Ltd ( the operators of Central Park). Speedway will remain under the existing management and, for the time being, Roger Cearns will continue to administer Greyhound Racing six times a week. This is excellent news for us because it has cemented the long term future for the stadium. This is rare in the world of stadiums these days so, personally, with Speedway assured, I am delighted with the changes.”