Here it is folks, the third and final installment of the 2020 Season Preview, so without further ado, let's have a gander at the rest of the Championship, shall we?
The 2019 Knockout Cup Champions Redcar have put together what looks to be a very strong looking side and with the nucleus of their 2019 side still intact, the Bears could take a bit of stopping in 2020. British Champion Charles Wright remains with the club after a dream 2019 season, and more of the all action and tall scoring can be expected of him. Another man who falls into that bracket is German Erik Riss, who might well be the most spectacular rider on the circuit at the moment. There is still more to come from the 2019 Riders Champion and 2020 could see a big year for a rider who has unlimited potential. Completeing the heat leader trio in Michel Palm Toft who will be looking to bounce back after injuries curtailed his 2019 campaign. The second string positions will be occupied by Jordan Stewart and Kasper Andersen, both of whom have made steady progress with the Bears, with Stewart in particular improving very well year on year. Andersen has endured a bit of a stop start British career but seemed to settle well at Redcar last season and 2020 should see him make rapid progress. Two young British riders complete the side in Joe Lawlor and Jordan Jenkins and much like the Leicester side; they have a wealth of experience above them to learn from. Lawlor has a little Championship experience and should see 2020 as his potential breakthrough year whereas Jenkins is taking his first steps at this level and may find the going a little tough until he settles in.
Key Man – Kasper Andersen
Predictions – The Bears have a strong looking side and I would be very surprised if they weren’t there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
The Eddie Wright Raceway is our next destination where the Scunthorpe Scorpions 2020 team building actually started during the 2019 season. Highly rated Jordan Palin looks set to be one of the countries next big hopes and the Scorpions wasted little time in securing his services for 2020. Following a brilliant season with Belle Vue in the National League, there is plenty to suggest that Palin is ready for Championship, but as we all know it is a massive leap. He will be joined at reserve by the highly experienced Simon Lambert, who should provide the bulk of the lower end scoring until Palin finds his feet. Leading the side at number one will be Jake Allen, who seems at home at Scunthorpe and will be looking to make that top spot his own. Allen has shown flashes of brilliance in his UK career so far and with a little more consistency, he could well end up near the top of the averages. He will be ably backed up by Josh Auty who it seems has been at Scunthorpe forever now but with his all action style thrilling the fans it is easy to see why. Tero Aarnio also returns to the club for another spell having finished last season with Birmingham and on his day, he is more than capable of beating anyone. Danish flyer Thomas Jorgensen also makes a return to his first British club, having had an indifferent campaign with Newcastle. He is a better rider than his Diamonds scores would suggest and the Scorpions will be hopeful that he can recapture his form of old around the Eddie Wright Raceway. Completing the side is the highly experienced Dutchman Theo Pijper, who has the rather unenviable task of filling the huge void left by the tragic death of Danny Ayres. A true character of the sport has been lost and will be sorely missed but you can bet your last penny the Scorpions will be out for success in the memory of Speedway's Greatest Showman.
Key Man – Jordan Palin
Predictions – Strength in depth side rather than a side with an out and out number one as it were, I can see the Scorpions being a very entertaining side that will be bad to beat at home. While I don’t see them challenging for top spot, I can see them spoiling the part for plenty of others.
Way down south to the Oak Tree Arena we go and the Rebels of Somerset have a number of familiar faces making a return to the club. Rory Schlein returns to the side for what will be his final UK season and while he has done his fair share of moaning about tracks over the years, he has been a good servant to British Speedway on the whole. He will be joined at the top end of the side by Bradley Wilson Dean who will start the campaign at number one. In the middle order of the side is where things get a little interesting though with Ben Barker and Josh Bates. Barker has had more clubs than Tiger Woods and while he is a polarising character, there is little doubt that on track he is 100% effort. Josh Bates sort of fits into that same mould of all action but as a result often lands hi8mself in trouble. While Bates and Barker will provide no shortage of action, it certainly won’t be for the faint of heart! At the lower end of the side Aussie debutant Zach Cook comes in and while the wide open spaces of the Oak Tree Arena shouldn’t hold any fears for him, the smaller tracks he encounters on his travels may prove a little trickier. He is joined by Anders Rowe, who found himself thrust into the main body of the side during multiple changes in the side last season. While that transition was a little tough for him, it certainly helped his progress giving him an idea of what will be expected from him in 2020. Completing the side is Nathan Stoneman, who was brought in midway through last season as part of the aforementioned changes in the side. He is another rider who will benefit from starting the season at the same time as everyone else and hopefully having a settled run in the side.
Key Man – Anders Rowe
Predictions – The Rebels see themselves as a top line side and we have become accustomed to seeing them right up there. In this side there are a lot of question marks and while they should fare well enough at home, it is on the road where they may struggle.
Saving the best til last as they say and back to Shielfield having been all over the country! Previewing a Berwick side without Kevin Doolan might seem a little strange but let’s give it a go. A familiar looking line-up once again with Aaron Summers returning to lead the side once more. Aaron was ultra consistent in 2019 and there is no reason why 2020 will be any different. He will be backed up once again by the ultra stylish Nickolaj Busk Jakobsen who has become a firm favourite with the Shielfield faithful over the last couple of years. Another man fast becoming a Berwick legend is the “Cookie Cutter” Jye Etheridge, who had a scintillating 2019 despite being the worst rider in the league. Backing up the heat leaders are Coty Garcia and Dany Gappmaier, both of whom have become somewhat polarising figures among certain fans. In the case of Dany he is more often than not the go to guy to pull a win out the bag at home, and whilst he isn’t likely to do the same at Eastbourne, he is fully aware of what’s required from him if he is to take the next step in his career. For Coty, it is much of the same, on his day he can be nigh on untouchable and if he can add a little bit more consistency to his game, he could hold the key to Berwick’s success. Completing the side has to be one of the brightest looking reserve pairings in the league with Kyle Bickley and local boy Leon Flint. With Bickley now in his third Championship season and Flint his second, there is plenty more progress to come from these two lads with the sky the limit for them. Both have been racing in Australia over the winter so both should be ultra sharp as we head to the tapes in 2020.
Key Man – Jye Etheridge
Predictions – The tag of not being fancied for honours tends to suit the Bandits, and they have generally punched above their weight at times. The playoffs isn’t an impossible target but there is little doubt that more consistency on the road will be crucial if the Bandits are to be up there challenging come the business end of 2020.
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Until next time...and there will be a next time.
Right I’ll hae’tae gan