The Lakeside Vortex Hammers have confirmed their 2015 rider line-up – including the return of two time World Cup winner Andreas Jonsson.
The Hammers’ team was completed last week as Kim Nilsson joined Jonsson, Mikkel Bech, Richard Lawson and Edward Kennett to the reserve fast track riders Adam Ellis and Ashley Birks.
Four of the seven riders have stayed with the Purfleet-based side after they finished a disappointing sixth last year in the Elite League despite being in the playoffs for the majority of the season.
Due to the reserve draft rider system both former Hammers Ellis and Ben Morely were in the same tier for the pick – forcing a hard decision.
“That was a difficult decision, but on balance we need to win on the road and that’s where Adam had the advantage. I’m sure we’ll call Ben in whenever we need a replacement at reserve,” said manager Neil Vatcher.
The second reserve rider who has joined the Essex side is young Ashley Birks, in his debut for the Hammers.
Experienced 34-year-old Swede Jonsson returned to Vatcher’s side after a previous spell from 2006 to2008 and will be hot favourite to be their number one rider.
A surprise return was Danish star Bech after he missed the second half of the season in strange circumstances but tweeted positively after signing: “I don’t think any of you expected that! I’m very pleased to sign for Lakeside Hammers again in 2015 season. #HAMMERTIME”
Next to sign just before the festive period was British duo Edward Kennett and Hammer favourite Richard Lawson.
Lakeside Hammers 2014 Rider of the Year Lawson was almost certain to return but issues with his parent club prolonged the imminent signing.
Edward Kennett, a fan of the Arena track, joined The Hammers for the first time after guesting previously numerous times; it’s evident he is a Vortex Hammer ally.
Finalising the Lakeside line-up is Kim Nilsson who had his best spell to date after he made the Swedish World Cup team and returned to ‘The Hammers’ in the second half of last season.
The Lakeside Hammers website commented on former captain Davey Watt’s contribution over the last three seasons at the club, after he chose not to re-sign and joined fellow Elite League side Poole Pirates: “The Vortex Hammers would like to thank Davey Watt for his three years of service to the club and wish him well on his return to parent club Poole.”