Robert Lambert: Natural born leader of King’s Lynn Stars
- Credit: Ian Burt
King's Lynn Stars riders were back on track for the first time in 2019 at the traditional press and practice day. Chris Lakey spoke to skipper Robert Lambert
Robert Lambert is a wanted man: it's media day at the Norfolk Arena and the youngster is hot property.
At just 20 years of age, Lambert is mature beyond his years.
In a sport where brakes are noticeable by their absence and speed is the name of the game, he has to be - being skipper would add to the burden for some, but for Lambert, it sits as comfortably as he does astride 500cc of snarling machinery.
The Stars are preparing for a season when they become hunted, not hunter, after a 2018 campaign which saw them finish top of the Premiership table and reach the KO Cup final. That they twice finished bridesmaid was down to the vagaries of the play-off system, which saw them lose the championship title to Poole, before losing the cup final to Somerset.
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That sort of finale hurts, and among Lambert's many ambitions is to put it right this year.
Sitting in the sunshine of west Norfolk, the youngster from Foulsham explains all.
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'You can't change the fact that the play-offs are there,' said Lambert. 'I don't think they are the best but it gives us more racing and it is better for the fans and you have to take it on the chin.
'Obviously we were so close, but things just didn't turn out for us.'
Lynn's cause wasn't helped by late-season injuries to Danish duo Niels Kristian Iversen and Michael Palm Toft. Their absence left a big hole – and Lambert acknowledges it could have been a very different feeling had they competed on a level track.
Having lost 53-37 in the first leg of the play-off final, they thumped Poole 51-39 at home – close, but no cigar.
'Maybe if we had all the riders in the team for the last meeting I don't see why we couldn't have won it because against Poole we were so many points down on aggregate and we went and smashed it here,' adds Lambert, somewhat ruefully. 'We were pretty confident we could do it and we remained level-headed – it was just a shame we couldn't do it at the critical point of the season.'
But Lambert sees a positive in those agonising defeats.
'Maybe it was a bit of a blessing in disguise because now we have a new goal,' he said. 'Obviously it spurs us on and we have that target to get to. We have all been working hard over the winter to try and do that.'
The Norfolk boy in Lambert is looking forward to the presence of East Anglian rivals Ipswich and Peterborough in the Premiership.
'It's great,' he said. 'It is going to be terrific for the fans and the riders as well and I'm looking forward to it – it's good there are some local tracks and I don't have to travel too far.'
Going so close last season – and with a team similar to the 2019 line-up – means Lynn will be expected to go one better.
'I think last season they wrote us off – and look at the season we had,' said Lambert. 'I wouldn't say we were the favourites this time, we will just go out and do the business and see where it takes us.'
Like all top speedway riders, there's more than the domestic campaign to look forward to. Lambert is reigning British champion at senior and Under-21 level and, unsurprisingly, has plenty of opportunities to match his personal ambitions.
It starts with leading a Premiership team - and ends on the world stage.'
'Being captain is a great opportunity for me,' he said. 'A lot of people would love to have this honour. Last year was one of the best seasons I have ever had and we have to do the same this year as well.'
There was certainly a coming of age element as Lambert established himself as one of world speedway's most sparkling of rising stars. And there comes the other ambitions.
'I think everyone's goal is to be world champion and that is one of mine,' he said. 'I have one more season in the world under-21s and I have two third places in it now so I definitely want to get a second or at least a win – that would be great for me. I also want to get into the Grands Prix as a fully-fledged GP rider, that is one of the main goals and hopefully it will all fall into place, and then we will be happy.'