Riders’ worries about safety causes home King’s Lynn Stars postponement against Poole Pirates
As a mixture of rain, hail and snow fell during the day you could sense more black clouds beginning to hover above British speedway.
Perhaps the lengthy breaks in the darkness caused by the sun yesterday afternoon helped lift some of the gloom in King's Lynn. But the feeling of impending doom refused to go away the longer the decision not to call off the Stars' home Elite League clash against champions Poole Pirates continued.
The call finally arrived little more than 10 minutes after Sky Sports had started to screen live from a near empty Adrian Flux Arena. In the freezing cold and wet surroundings you soon knew the postponement, and the timing of it, would become a hot topic – especially on social media. But Lynn's Grand Prix superstar Niels-Kristian Iversen was quick to cool criticism of he and his fellow riders' desire not to take to the shale.
'I think it's the right decision. Sky needed a decision within two minutes and as it was at that moment it looked a bit too slimy to be able to race on,' he said.
'If we'd have had half-an-hour more then maybe we'd have seen a different track but we didn't have that time. Riders safety is the most important thing. As much as we wanted to ride, and I was a little bit inbetween, the majority of the riders felt it wasn't going to be good enough, and I agree, with the time schedule we had. We were going to struggle to make it good for the first half of the meeting.'
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Stars owner and track curator Buster Chapman, the head of the British Speedway Promoters' Association (BSPA), cut a hugely frustrated figure after his lengthy attempts to beat the weather failed. He took to the public address system to suggest the surface was consistent and safe to race on, but conceded he understood the riders' concerns.
All members of the seven-man teams had staged a meeting before coming to a joint conclusion that they were not willing to turn a wheel in anger, despite Chapman's annoyance.
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Lynn's Mads Korneliussen said: 'We all reckoned there'd be too many crashes and the risk would be too high. Everyone needs to respect that.
'Then again Buster's probably been on his tractor since 8am living off a Yorkie chocolate bar and a coffee. I see why he's frustrated as the rain stopped. But in the end we couldn't get any dry material on top and the surface was too slippery.
'The most experienced riders have a bigger say but I think all 14 said it was too slimy. We've all tried to race this track in the wet and it races horrible. We saw it against Coventry when there was that nasty accident with Rory (Schlein, Lynn) and Kacper (Woryna, Coventry). It's the last thing that you want at this point of the season.'
While Korneliussen didn't think the plug should have been pulled on the clash earlier in the day because of frequently-changing forecasts, Pirates team boss Neil Middleditch had a different point of view.
'Middlo' said: 'Buster's a master at getting tracks right. You've got to give him a chance. But I think the weather got it (the track) too much too soon and it was (called off) too late, although it was absolutely the right decision.
'We've driven a long way to come here but we were all in agreement. We didn't want a rain-off but we all want to go home safe. If my boys say no, we don't ride. If they don't want to ride I'll stand by my boys.
'It's tough for the fans. We're going to get rain-offs. They're fantastic for turning up in all weathers and unfortunately this time we couldn't put a show on for them.'
There was some brighter news for Lynn, who ride next at Belle Vue on Monday, with Troy Batchelor confirming he will make his long-awaited return from injury at home to former club Swindon on May 18.