Bastian ready for new challenge

Published on 1st March 2024
Author George Dodds
Picture: Taz McDougall

Our new Danish ace may still be finding his feet in British speedway but it is a fledgling career in which he has never been afraid to challenge himself. And he has been guided by some of the sharpest speedway minds around.

Bastian Borke is the latest in a long line of European riders to grace the Bandits’ colours since Jorg Pingel, Richard Juul and Jarno Kosonen tore up our British and Commonwealth second tier policy in 1997.

We came quite late to the party, a good nine years after Rye House boss Ronnie Russell won the right to field current Oxford boss Peter Schroeck and Jens Rasmussen in the Rockets’ line-up.

But since 1997 we have employed more than our fair share including some amazing Danes, not least Nicolaj Busk Jacobsen – who just happens to be Bastian’s team manager at Grindsted in his domestic league this season. With him also signed for Krosno in Poland and Valsarna in Sweden the 21-year-old from Silkeborg has a full racing diary ahead.

He’s already come a long way since his somewhat reluctant introduction to speedway as a 12-year-old.

The story goes that Bastian was dragged somewhat reluctantly along to an open practice at Silkeborg where his younger brother began the session as the Borke most likely to become a speedway start.

However, Borke the elder caught the racing bug and made steady progress through the much-lauded Danish junior system.

Germany and the Czech Republic were regular stops for the Borke racing team along with Poland where he came under the watchful eye of Roman Povazhny the Russian who had spells with Eastbourne and Arena Essex around the turn of the Millenium before making a second career as a mechanic for riders such as Emil Sayfutdinov and Max Fricke.

Having spent the 2019 winter in Australia Bastian was already to make a big impact on the 2020 season only for Covid to dash his hopes.

Hans Nielsen was another speedway legend keeping a close eye on progress and he encouraged Bastian to continue his racing education on the very individualistic tracks of Great Britain.

On parade as a Monarch. Picture: Nia Martin

Having narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2023 SGP2 series Bastian was ready to spread his wings again when the call came from struggling Edinburgh.

It was something of a baptism of fire as the injury-ravaged Monarchs were hammered 51-39 at Armadale by Glasgow – guests Lewis Kerr and Ritchie Worrall accounting for 21 of those points.

Thrown into the number three slot it was a tough debut but, after two pointless opening rides, Bastian began to get the hang of the track and finished with 3+1 to his credit.

Seven days later the reverse fixture saw 8+1 scored and a maiden British race victory under his belt, Tigers’ skipper Trom Brennan bettered in heat 12 at Ashfield.

That was bettered a month later when, by now benefitting from being partnered by Josh Pickering, Bastian also tasted victory for the first time in a Monarchs’ racesuit, his 9+1 steering Edinburgh home at Shielfield Park, 46-44.

It was a vital win as Edinburgh booked the last play-off space, sharing a tough group with Poole and Scunthorpe, and a performance which raised the antenna among a Berwick management team already planning a major winter overhaul of riding personnel.

Bastain signed off in style with 7+2 against the Pirates, a meeting which included his first heat 15 nomination along the way.

The buzz on the Armadale terraces was that they would Bastian back in 2024 – and Edinburgh fans were not alone as he was linked with newcomers Workington and Glasgow along with his final destination, Shielfield Park.

Despite the late start to the campaign and Edinburgh’s woes Bastian still ended that debut season with a respectable 3.85 average from 12 Cab Direct Championship meetings, 4.12 away from West Lothian.

Now he has a workshop set up in the town and cannot wait to make his mark as our latest Great Dane.

Revelling at Shielfield and leading countrymen Thomas Jorgensen and Jonas Knudsen
Inside line on Leon Flint. Pictures: Taz McDougall
George Dodds
George Dodds

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