Wolverhampton Wolves hoping to reach summit in front of their loyal fans

Wolverhampton speedway promoter Chris Van Straaten has hailed the return of ‘normality’ ahead of tonight’s Premiership clash with Ipswich at Monmore Green.

 Chris Van Straaten
Chris Van Straaten

With Covid restrictions easing on the day, race-night will far more closely resemble what supporters are used to, with the high-flying Parrys International Wolves looking to take another step towards the play-offs.

A victory over the Witches could even take them top of the table, should current leaders Peterborough fail to beat Belle Vue in the night’s other fixture.

And Van Straaten is confident supporters can enjoy the increased freedom whilst also remaining mindful that the virus has not disappeared.

He said: “It’s called ‘Freedom Day’ and that’s exactly what it is in terms of moving about the stadium. There are no limits, and people can pay on the day, so it’s a traditional meeting just like we used to have, which seems like ages ago now!

“I’ve never tried to belittle what Covid is, it’s changed a lot of people’s lives and we’re eternally grateful to the NHS – but it has been very stressful coping with it all. The limited attendances were quite crippling, and following a lot of publicity the Council intervened and gave me a few more for the last meeting against Sheffield.

“Now the restrictions as I understand it have gone completely, so we’re really looking forward to it and we have everything coming back – mascots coming out with the riders, everything that we used to do is back. It’s everything that we’ve been waiting for, and I just think it took a little bit longer than perhaps we anticipated back in March.

“And obviously we’re delighted with the team. We’re very solid and you couldn’t bet on who’s going to come out as top scorer, which is what I like about it.

“It’s unfortunate that Leon (Flint) is out because he’s quite a talent and he would have learned from being at Belle Vue on Thursday, but injuries are part and parcel of the sport, and a scaphoid can be a troublesome injury so we don’t want to rush him back.”

Flint is replaced on Monday by Plymouth regular Alfie Bowtell, who has experience of the Monmore circuit as he rode for Cradley during the majority of their 2018 National Trophy campaign at the same home track.

Ipswich track a much-changed team from the one heavily defeated at Monmore back at the end of May, with Craig Cook a high-profile addition to their side.

Speedway legend Jason Crump is back in the saddle after sustaining severe rib damage in a crash on his previous visit, and another former Heathens rider Paul Starke has been in fine form at reserve of late.

The meeting is the first of four successive Monday night fixtures at Monmore, with the visit of the Witches closely followed by blockbuster matches against title contenders Belle Vue and Peterborough, and then struggling King’s Lynn.

Wolves: Sam Masters, Luke Becker, Nick Morris, Ryan Douglas, Rory Schlein, Broc Nicol, Alfie Bowtell.

Ipswich: Jason Crump, Anders Rowe R/R, Danny King, Jake Allen, Craig Cook, Drew Kemp, Paul Starke.

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