Peterborough Panthers writer Mark Plummer takes a look at this year’s Premier League teams.
Track: Shielfield Park.
Team: Ben Barker, Thomas Jorgensen, Claus Vissing, Kevin Doolan, Alex Edberg, Matic Voldrih, Luke Crang.
Team boss: John Anderson
One to watch: Barker is one of the leading lights at this level and the Cornishman will need to be a success to justify a move to one of the most northerly points in England.
Plummer’s prediction: A handy top-end with Jorgensen and Vissing capable of offering strong support to Barker, but the tail of this team could really wag. Mid-table mediocrity beckons at best.
Track: Armadale Stadium
Team: Craig Cook, Sam Masters, Justin Sedgmen, Kevin Wolbert, Erik Riss, Robert Branford, Max Clegg.
Team boss: Alan Bridgett
One to watch: Erik Riss – the son of former World Longtrack legend Gerd Riss – is a fascinating new recruit to British racing.
Plummer’s prediction: Three members of their terrific Premier League, League Cup and KO Cup treble-winning side of 2014 remain (Cook, Masters and Sedgmen), but it is difficult to see the Monarchs enjoying such dominance again. Snatching a play-off spot could be their best hope.
Track: Ashfield Stadium
Team: Aaron Summers, Richard Lawson, Nick Morris, Kozza Smith, Dimitri Berge, James Sarjeant, Victor Palovaara.
Team boss: Stewart Dickson
One to watch: Berge was a revelation in a poor team until being badly injured last season. He could be a star on a 4.90 average if picking up from where he left off.
Plummer’s prediction: The Scots have been dubbed the ‘Manchester City’ of the Premier League after a winter takeover from local businessmen brothers Gerry and Michael Facenna – and it’s not a comparison they appear to be discouraging. They have splashed the cash on their Ashfield base and also in assembling a powerful side and look sure to be in the shake-up for honours.
Track: Foxhall Stadium
Team: Danny King, Rohan Tungate, Gino Manzares, Cameron Heeps, Ritchie Hawkins, Stefan Nielsen, Nico Covatti.
Team manager: Phil Hilton
One to watch: Covatti came within a whisker of earning a World Championship spot in the GP Challenge last season. If that form is taken literally, he should shine in the second tier of the sport . . . providing the tight turns of Foxhall can suit him.
Plummer’s prediction: The Witches’ focus will be on glory under photographer-turned-team manager Hilton – and a team spearheaded by Great Britain ace Danny King could well deliver. Bound to be strong at home and will be the team to beat if they can perform on the road.
Track: Brough Park
Team: Lewis Kerr, Steve Worrall, Ludvig Lindgren, Anton Rosen, Christian Henry, Lewis Rose, Simon Nielsen.
Team manager: George English
One to watch: Steve Worrall starred in Edinburgh’s treble success last season – could be a shrewd signing if he can unlock further improvement.
Plummer’s prediction: A team full of potential and will be very dangerous if that can be realised. Swedes Lindgren and Rosen will be key figures and if they can hit top gear, the Diamonds could challenge for top spot and looked assured to be in the play-off shake-up.
Track: East of England Showground
Racenight: Friday (occasional Sunday)
Team: Olly Allen, Ulrich Ostergaard, Robert Lambert, Lewis Blackbird, Adam Roynon, Simon Lambert, Ollie Greenwood.
Team manager: Carl Johnson
One to watch: Robert Lambert – the teen sensation will take the second tier by storm if getting to grips with a stack of new tracks.
Plummer’s prediction: It would be quite a fairytale if Panthers could go from the brink of oblivion to champions in under a year, but speedway is an unforgiving sport as the loss of one rider to serious injury already proves. Still expect a team full of belief to be making a title challenge though.
Track: St Boniface Arena
Team: Ryan Fisher, Morten Risager, Jack Holder, Kyle Newman, Sam Simota, Ashley Morris, Sam Chapman.
Team manager: Lee Trigger
One to watch: Jack Holder, younger brother of former world champion Chris, will be keenly scrutinised in his debut British campaign.
Plummer’s prediction: The Devils have proved to be perennial strugglers since entering the Premier League, but appear to have assembled their best team yet. Panthers fans are well aware of Fisher’s prowess while fellow arrival Risager is regarded as a specialist on tighter, slicker tracks, but this septet is still unlikely to be good enough for the play-offs.
Track: South Tees Motorsport Park
Team: Lasse Bjerre, Stuart Robson, Matej Kus, Hugh Skidmore, Jan Graversen, Ben Morley, Rafal Konopka.
Team manager: Jitendra Duffill
One to watch: Lasse Bjerre’s talent certainly couldn’t be questioned, but his attitude occasionally was during last season with Panthers. A new start in the North-East could see him excel.
Plummer’s prediction: Not particularly strong at the top end and certainly weak at the bottom end – ingredients which should mean the Bears are destined for a scrap at the bottom end of the standings. Anything more will be a big achievement.
RYE HOUSE ROCKETS
Track: Hoddesdon Raceway
Team: Eddie Kennett, Nicolaj Busk-Jakobsen, Anders Mellgren, Robin Aspegren, Kasper Lykke, Luke Bowen.
Team manager: John Sampford
One to watch: Busk-Jakobsen is the latest bright, young thing from Denmark where he is held in high regard.
Plummer’s prediction: Rocked by the loss of one top rider and blocked from bringing in another club favourite – it has been a tough winter down in Hertfordshire. End result is solid if not spectacular and unlikely to threaten the title picture.
Track: Eddie Wright Raceway
Team: David Howe, Alex Davies, Josh Auty, Theo Pijper, Carl Wilkinson, Nike Lunna, Ellis Perks.
Team manager: Dave Peet
One to watch: Young Brit Ellis Perks – the son of a former referee, who has honed his talents in Australia – is an exciting prospect in his first Premier League season. Could prove to be a talent down at reserve.
Plummer’s prediction: The Scorpions suffered a winter blow with the exciting Australian ace Ryan Douglas failing to recover from injury in time to take up his place. It’s a solid enough side, but looks to lack star quality. Unlikely to figure in the top six.
Track: Owlerton Stadium
Team: Simon Stead, Ty Proctor, David Bellego, Ashley Birks, Andre Compton, Arthur Sissis, Josh Bates
Team manager: to be confirmed
One to watch: David Bellego is a thrill-a-minute rider who will love it around the sweeping Owlerton bends.
Plummer’s prediction: They boast the undisputed best rider in the league (Stead) and one of the most talked about signings of the winter (former Moto 3 racer Sissis), but the Tigers will need plenty of other riders to return to their best form to be a serious factor in 2015.
Track: Oaktree Arena
Team: Josh Grajczonek, Brady Kurtz, Richie Worrall, Charles Wright, Leigh Lanham, Paul Starke, Benji Compton.
Team manager: Garry May
One to watch: Worrall went backwards in the slick Suffolk surroundings of Ipswich last year. A return to proper race-track should ensure he progresses again.
Plummer’s prediction: A team that has undergone more changes than a catwalk model (due to their initial effort being way over the points limit and the subsequent exit of two reserves). The Rebels can usually be relied upon to collect at least one trophy per season and missed out by a point to Edinburgh in the play-off final last term. Bound to be bang there in contention again.
Track: Derwent Park
Team: Kenneth Hansen, Rene Bach, Kyle Howarth, Rusty Harrison, Ricky Wells, Nicki Barrett, Nathan Greaves.
Team manager: Tony Jackson
One to watch: One-time Panthers rider Kenneth Hansen will thrill on his return to the Premier League.
Plummer’s prediction: The Comets pipped Panthers to the final play-off spot last season and they’ll more than likely be found in similar territory in the table this time around. A lack of points at reserve could be their undoing.
HOW THE PREMIER LEAGUE WILL (OR PROBABLY WON’T LOOK) IN 2015
8 Rye House