The Eastbourne Eagles will be without their Number One rider for their next two home meetings.
Jake Knight has been banned by the speedway authorities because he pulled out of Sunday’s National League Riders’ Championship at Leicester. However, he will be allowed to race in away meetings.
Knight withdrew from the NLRC because he was without a serviceable engine after the meeting against the Belle Vue Colts the previous night.
The first meeting Knight will miss is Saturday’s (30 September) second leg of the KO Cup semi-final against Plymouth. He will also be missing for the second leg of the Play Offs semi-final against Kent the following Saturday.
Eastbourne team manager Connor Dugard has drafted in Ben Morley to fill the No 1 slot on Saturday. However, no guest is possible the following Saturday for the second leg of the Play Offs semi-final.
That’s because Knight ceases to be the club’s No 1 at the beginning of October (it’s determined by his current average) with Josh Bailey moving up to the top spot. It means the Eagles will have to use the rider replacement rule to cover Knight’s programmed rides.
Dugard commented, “It means we just have to work extra hard and get the job done in the first leg at Kent on Monday night. It is going to be tough but there is no reason why we cannot do it. We are the underdogs and that’s no bad thing.”
He explained that Knight blew up his bike while warming up for heat one at Belle Vue. At that stage he switched to a second machine which is set up to ride smaller tracks, such as Eastbourne.
At the end of his fourth programmed ride, he felt the engine tighten as he crossed the line. For that reason, he did not appear in the nominated riders’ heat 15.
“On Saturday night at 10pm, he did not have an engine to ride the next day at Leicester in the NLRC. Really, common sense should prevail. If you haven’t got equipment, how can are you going to do the meeting,” Dugard commented.
He said the ban was provided for within the sport’s rules, but felt Knight’s suspension was also designed to send a message to other riders not to pull out of the NLRC.
Other riders who missed the meeting, he said, all had the correct certificates to stand down.
Dugard added that Knight was missing two pay days by being suspended while at the same time facing a £1,500 bill for repairs to his two engines.
“If anyone can help, please get in touch. Anything will help,” he commented.
To make matters worse for the Eagles on Saturday, they will also be without captain Georgie Wood.
He will be riding for his Championship club Sheffield in the final of the division’s Play Offs against Ipswich as Championship fixtures have priority. Ben Hopwood steps in as a replacement while Drew Kemp will guest for the Eagles in the No 6 position.
Last night's match with Cradley was postponed until next month, owing to bad weather.