Mitchell Young reports on the latest exciting developments with the Lakeside Hammers
Lakeside Vortex Hammers’ co-promoter Jon Cook has announced that the team will compete in the 2016 Elite League season.
After fears that the Hammers would not be able to race next year, it looks like speedway will be staying in the area for at least another season.
Joint promoters Cook and Stuart Douglas said at a fans forum that they have been in ongoing talks with the landlords at Arena Essex over recent weeks and will continue discussions.
Cook also announced to delighted Hammers supporters that number-one rider and fans favourite Andreas ‘AJ’ Jonsson has agreed to return to the Arena next season, despite other offers from Elite League clubs.
Cook said about the club’s number-one rider “he is a dream to work with as you know exactly where he is and when he’s riding”.
The news comes after a period of turmoil and uncertainty for the team and their stay at Arena Essex.
Cook admitted that he was distracted last season with other interests and took his eye off the racing on the track, describing last season as “frankly rubbish”.
The Lakeside promoter admitted the mood inside the dressing room last season was not right: “There was something wrong about the atmosphere this year and often completely wrong”.
Cook said he wants to improve that team spirit and passion for next season.
Back in September, Lakeside were hit by the news that, after finishing bottom of the Elite League table, the air-fence surrounding the track was condemned following a safety inspection.
The cost to improve the fence was said to be in the region of £20,000 but after help from volunteers last Tuesday, the projected figure has now been reduced by half.
Meanwhile, reserve rider Adam Ellis will be going out on loan for next season. Cook said this was by ‘mutual agreement’ and Ellis would be going to a track ‘more suited to his development at this point’.
Cook hinted that an as yet unknown rider duo could be on their way to Lakeside for the upcoming season: “We are in negotiations with a pair and if they do come I think they would complement AJ well”.
The opening meeting for the Lakeside Hammers next March will mark the 10th anniversary of promoter’s Cook and Douglas’ partnership.
The press and practice day for the Lakeside Hammers will likely be in the middle of that month.