The search goes on…
The search for the 7th and final member of the 2021 season continues, with the start of the season now just over 9 weeks away. Over the last few weeks, the promotion have been in negotiations with 3 riders, all of which were made offers to race in 2021, but without any success. Those riders are confirmed as young Danish prospect Tim Sorensen, Swedish star Victor Palovaara and ex-Bear Lasse Bjerre.
Bears chief Jitendra Duffill explained, “It’s been a very frustrating search for us. The 3 riders we made offers to would all have done a good job and finished the team nicely, but the uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions due to Covid is causing concern amongst riders and nobody is willing to commit for that reason. The only rider available in the UK that would have brought us close to the points limit is Lewis Bridger, but understandably it’s too far for Lewis to travel on a weekly basis.”
Duffill also acknowledged that there have been several messages from eager fans, questioning when the last rider would be signed. He answered, “I completely understand the frustration from some supporters and I can assure them that we don’t wish to keep them waiting. Speedway is a numbers game and riders that have signed elsewhere over the last few weeks would not have fitted into our team. It would be very easy for us to complete the team today, but with the riders available we would come in well short of the points limit. We are essentially looking for a 3rd heat leader.”
Duffill continued, “The situation with Covid in Europe is poor and there is real danger that some of the European leagues will see their seasons delayed considerably. The option of racing in the UK may become more appealing to some riders over the next few weeks, so we believe our best option is to wait at this point. I don’t see any benefit in making a hasty decision just to get the side finished, when a little patience could see us start with a stronger side.”
It was announced today by Kings Lynn Speedway that Erik Riss has now changed his mind and has decided to race in the UK after all. Riss had signed contracts in both Sweden and Denmark back in January, which had ruled him out of British Speedway in 2021. Duffill commented, “We are aware that Erik’s circumstances have now changed, but due to averages, we can no longer fit him into our team unless we were to drop one of our existing riders. Those riders have turned down offers at other clubs to come to Redcar – to renege on the agreements we have with them and to make them unemployed on the eve of the new season would be unjust and immoral. Joe Lawlor has already lost his place at the club due to this situation, so reversing it would be wrong and is something that Jade (Mudgway), Jamie (Swales) and I are not willing to do.”
Meanwhile, work continues behind the scenes to prepare for the start of the 2021 Championship League season. Extensive work is being carried out at the Media Prima Arena to allow for easier social distancing and to improve the viewing facilities within the stadium. New track curator Jonathan Swales has already spent hours getting the track surface in prime condition for the start of activity at the MPA which begins in April, when amateur events are allowed to commence. Duffill explained, “There is a lot to do and Brian Gladders, along with some of our volunteers, are working hard on a daily basis to make essential upgrades to the stadium. There are other things we need to implement to become Covid compliant too, so it’s all hands on deck at present.”
Duffill was also able to confirm that the club plan to reveal the results of the recent supporters survey soon. He said, “We gained a lot of very interesting and useful information from the survey and had an overwhelming response, with 240 people taking part. It has taken some time to analyse all of the information, but I’m just about there! There were too many questions to answer by text, so I’m planning to answer them by means of a live online session via our social media channels. There is a lot I’d like to answer and that seems the best way to do that. Until then, I’d like to thank everybody that took the time to offer feedback.”