Record-breaking King’s Lynn Stars have match winners all over their team – and in the pits
- Credit: IAN BURT
King's Lynn are flying high at the top of the table. Our Stars reporter GAVIN CANEY gives his opinion on why the Stars are shining.
In a sport where the fastest man succeeds – and riders are paid by the number of points they score – it's sometimes hard to garner team spirit.
Some individuals simply do not click. Others are more obsessed with boosting their own bank balance. A few are just desperate to win and ensure they remain the main man at their respective club.
Thankfully, King's Lynn Stars, the current Elite League leaders, have a man at the helm who can get the best out of the seven riders he has at his disposal.
Team boss Rob Lyon is liked and respected. He knows that a speedway team cannot succeed with only one or two good riders. He wants men to look out for each other on the track and in the pits.
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The current club-record 11-match winning run may have started on Wednesday April 16, but the foundations were laid during the winter. Lyon and Stars' chief Buster Chapman set out about their team building with an understanding of where things had gone wrong last season.
Injuries didn't help. Neither did miserable away form. But an over-reliance on Niels-Kristian Iversen meant that when he didn't fire, neither did the Stars. This year, the pressure has been lifted off of his shoulders.
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The world number three started 2014 like an absolute train but when he has, by his own very high standards, struggled of late, Lynn have continued winning.
That's because Kenneth Bjerre is a fantastic heat leader and Rory Schlein is also starting to notch some big scores. He is flourishing with the responsibility of being a captain. He is a man's man and an inspirational figure – proved once more by his great drive to rise money for charity this year.
Some experts suggested that Lyon got it wrong by naming Nicklas Porsing, 21, and 16-year-old Robert Lambert in the main body of his side. That they would struggle to deal with the pressure. But what people didn't realise is that Iversen, Bjerre and Schlein would help remove some of that weight of expectancy.
The second-strings have been able to develop at their own pace. Porsing and Lambert have looked world-class and in the very next race looked raw. That happens with youngsters. But the pair have ticked along nicely, improved, and put in some match-winning performances. Every point they have scored has been vital.
At reserve, the Fast Track Draft system was made for Lynn. They were able to pick two of their own assets in the shape of Lewis Rose and Lewis Kerr. Both have scored points for fun, especially the latter – easily the best 'Draft' rider out there.
Lyon has built a brilliant side from top to bottom. A team that enjoy competing together and looking for each other when the tapes come up. They have picked up bonus points galore.
There are no egos. Everyone is in it together. And everyone is capable of being a Star. But perhaps the one who has shone the brightest – and why Lynn are unstoppable right now - is Lyon.
'Voice of the Stars hails the club's current crop'
Announcer Edwin Overland has seen his fair share of excellent Lynn sides since he started watching speedway in the 1960s.
For the last 34 years he has been the man on the microphone and the voice of the sport for BBC Radio Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. So when he talks, people tend to listen – literally. The 71-year-old has witnessed the 1984 run and the current crop of Stars – which he believes is the best team he's seen.
Overland said: 'I remember in 1984 Dave Jessup came in as a replacement for Terry Betts. He was a King's Lynn legend. But Dave was a good rider for Lynn and on the world stage. Richard Hellsen was an exciting rider.
'His speciality was going right around the boards. He was a thrill merchant. It was a reliable side.
'It is difficult to compare from one decade to another in any sport. People tend to look back with rose-tinted spectacles.
'But for me this is the best Lynn side I think I have seen, especially since I've been announcing. I don't think too many people would argue.'
The broadcasting legend feels Rob Lyon's team has a strong top and some talented youngsters.
And he feels the Fast Track system – implemented this winter – has helped the Stars flourish.
He added: 'Lynn had two terrific riders on their own doorstep. While other teams were scratching their heads Lynn didn't have to give it a second thought.
'Lewis Kerr has been an absolute superstar – he's definitely been a match-winner.'