Cream of European cycle speedway heading for Wolverhampton and East Park
The cream of European cycle speedway will descend on Wolverhampton this Bank Holiday weekend for one of the biggest dates in the sport’s calendar.
A crowd of more than 500 is expected to see 80 riders from the 20 best teams on the continent do battle over three days of racing at East Park Wolves, all gunning for the prize of being crowned European Club champions.
The event is second only to the World Championships in terms of importance and hosting it is a significant honour for East Park chairman Albert Bentley and the club’s team of volunteers.
Bentley said: “Hosting this event is a big feather in the cap for the club. It’s going to be a terrific three days.
“These are the best teams and the best riders in Europe who will be competing around our track.
“We’ve got British champions and former world champions who will be going wheel-to-wheel. Everyone is looking forward to it.”
Another layer of intrigue was added to this year’s event when it emerged holders Ostrow would not be travelling to defend their crown.
Their Polish rivals, Leszso, have now been installed as favourites for the title, though they will face fierce local competition in the shape of Wednesfield Aces, who are led by junior world champion and former East Park favourite Brandon Whetton.
“From what we can tell, there has been some Premier League-style transfer activity going on in Poland,” explained East Park head coach Bob Prince.
“Many of Ostrow’s strongest riders have now moved to Leszso, who have assembled something akin to a cycle speedway dream team. They are the favourites but I expect Wednesfield to be strong too, they have a really strong quartet of riders.
“Brandon learned his trade here at East Park and I know he will be determined to do well.
“There at least five British champions racing, including the reigning champion Myke Grimes, who rides for Coventry.
“Poole have got former world champion Marcin Symanski in their ranks, so they can’t be ruled out either.”
The tapes go up at noon tomorrow and the action will continue through until around 7pm.
Sunday is the biggest day of racing, beginning at 10am and not ending until 9pm. Monday, meanwhile, sees the four best teams battle it out in the Grand Final.
In total, more than 300 individual heats will be staged across the three days.
Entry is free, with refreshments also being provided by the club.
Bentley hopes that, by showcasing East Park, the event will also help with a recruitment drive as they look to further build their membership.
Formed in 2006, the club is a not-for-profit organisation which depends on its members to survive and thrive.
Bentley said: “A huge amount of work has gone into this meeting. We have been painting the track and making sure everything is in order so the club looks its best for the big event.
“I am hopeful hosting such a prestigious championships will help build our profile in the area. We are always on the lookout for new riders, whether they be experienced or wanting to try the sport for the first time.
“It’s not easy. We don’t get anything in the way of funding. But we have a dedicated group of volunteers who are dedicated to the sport and the club.”
For more information on East Park Wolves, visit eastparkwolves.webs.com or contact Albert Bentley on 07814 641367.