Peterborough Panthers have been warned they will have to really work for victory in a pre-season challenge clash at Rye House tonight.
That’s the message from local lad Ritchie Hawkins who will be a member of a home team looking to claim a big scalp at the Hoddesdon Raceway (7pm)
Premier League side Rye have strengthened their line-up for the visit of the city men by borrowing top British talent Tai Woffinden and Poole man Ricky Kling for the night while Panthers have five members of their nine-man squad unavailable.
And Hawkins reckons a tight contest is in prospect on the small Rye circuit.
Yaxley-based Hawkins, who also doubles-up with top-flight Birmingham, said: “I definitely think we can put one over Peterborough.
“Both teams have people missing but it should be very close.
“We’ll relish the prospect of racing against an Elite League side and we have guys who can pile up the points round our track.
“Panthers certainly won’t have it easy whatever happens.”
Hawkins (28) is forging a decent career for himself in the second tier of the sport, but he can’t help thinking about what might have been.
The son of Panthers legend Kevin Hawkins has suffered terribly at the hands of serious injuries.
He has suffered a broken ankle, broken thigh, broken arm, broken ribs, a fractured skull and bleeding to the brain in speedway smashes, but he still loves the sport.
Hawkins added: “I can’t help being a bit disappointed with how things have gone for me.
“I’ve spent so long being injured and made so many comebacks that my career was really held up.
“I feel I could have made it in the Elite League had I been luckier with injuries, but I’m really enjoying my time at Rye.
“It’s a nice family club where you can ride without lots of pressure and a Saturday track suits me down to the ground as I’m working a bit for Danny King during the week.”
Hawkins is delighted to have received sponsorship from local company Mawgreen.
n PANTHERS want to hear from any young riders interested in racing for the club in the relaunched Anglian Junior League competition this year.
Anyone interested should contact Trevor Swales on 07920 824092.