Tonight, the Berwick Bandits and the Newcastle Diamonds are off on their travels in search of Premier League points.
The Diamonds head to Suffolk for a battle with the Ipswich Witches in a match that sees the Tyneside outfit race with a full-strength team for the first time in 2013.
Diamonds team manager George English explained: “Andrew Tully ended up on the injury list during our pre-season practice session back in early March, damaging a vertebra quite badly, and it’s taken him to now to get the go-ahead from his medics to get back on a bike and race. To say that he’s desperately keen to resume his career is an understatement, but we won’t expect trees to be ripped up just yet as he’s nearly three months behind the other riders in the league and will need to work up to a good match fitness level.
“He’ll come back into the side at the number two position and we wish him well for his return to the sport.”
Only two points separate the two teams in the Premier League table, after four meetings apiece, and they are both currently in the play-off zone.
Ipswich could move above Newcastle with a good win tonight and this would set them up for a busy weekend away; they visit Berwick on Saturday night and then travel to Newcastle for the return on Sunday.
The Bandits’ journey south is not quite so arduous, with the Sheffield Tigers’ Owlerton Stadium their destination. Berwick boss Ian Rae admits the current lack of action for the Bandits has been a frustration as they look to iron out their inconsistency, saying: “We haven’t made the best of starts to the season and we need to ride our way back into form.
“The Sky meeting in May was such a success that we wanted to build on that, but circumstances dictate we can’t. Sheffield haven’t had such a domineering season as they usually do at home so there’s league points to be taken – and if we can fire our lads up sufficiently, then there’s no reason why they can’t give our league position a serious boost tonight.”
Sheffield have been racing with a guest at number one of late due to injury to their top man, Simon Stead, but tonight’s match does mean the reunion of the Bandits with an old friend.
Argentinian Facu Albin made his UK debut last season at Berwick’s FIM Grand Prix Qualification Round, and actually signed for the Bandits – although he never raced for them.
He joined Sheffield through last winter and takes his place once again in the Tigers’ line-up tonight against his old pals from the Borders.
SHEFFIELD TIGERS: Guest for Simon Stead – TBC, Ricky Wells, Richard Hall, Facundo Albin, Joe Haines, Damien Koppe, Jake Knight
BERWICK BANDITS: Edward Kennett, David Bellego, Robin Aspegren, Matty Wethers, Kozza Smith (captain), Paul Starke, Nicki Barrett
IPSWICH WITCHES: Ben Barker, Ritchie Hawkins, Rohan Tungate, Morten Risager, Leigh Lanham (captain), Adam Ellis, Cameron Heeps
NEWCASTLE DIAMONDS: Stuart Robson (captain), Andrew Tully, Christian Henry, Ludvig Lindgren, Richie Worrall, Lewis Kerr, Steve Worrall