Havelock joins call for safety

SPEEDWAY: Former world speedway champion Gary Havelock has added weight to the Evening Star's campaign to improve track safety.The Star was the first newspaper to call for air fences three days after Ipswich-based Lawrence Hare suffered a broken back after hitting the Newport fence with considerable force while riding for Exeter on April 14.

By Elvin King

FORMER world speedway champion Gary Havelock has added weight to the Evening Star's campaign to improve track safety.

The Star was the first newspaper to call for air fences three days after Ipswich-based Lawrence Hare suffered a broken back after hitting the Newport fence with considerable force while riding for Exeter on April 14.

Writing in his column in the Bournemouth Echo, who have contributed £200 to Hare for use of Mike Patrick's crash picture, Poole Pirates captain Havelock said:


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"There have been too many accidents, too many broken bones and far too much suffering by riders this season.

"But is it pure coincidence that no injuries have been reported in four weeks of racing at either Coventry or Arena-Essex, both of whom invested heavily in the winter on the new Tony Briggs-inspired air fences?

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"It's time speedway put its house in order and made it mandatory for every circuit to have an air safety fence.

"No-one can guarantee that accidents won't happen even with cushion fencing. That's the nature of the beast. Speedway is dangerous and we all know the risks before we throw a lethal 500cc bike into a corner at 70mph with three other bikes separated only by a Rizla-width paper of room.

"However, we must minimise the damage when things don't go according to plan. Why should we feel safer riding at Coventry and Arena-Essex only?

"Six years ago I broke my back in a simple first bend riding crash. I am convinced that with an air fence that day I would have got up and walked away and not suffered the injury. I cannot begin to describe the months of pain and suffering.

"I can only wince at the thought of what poor Lawrence Hare has been through and repeat the question: Speedway must do its utmost to ensure that there are no more Lawrence Hare-type spills round the next corner?

"I think I speak on behalf of every speedway rider and supporter in passing on best wishes to Lawrence and his family."

Hare's chest infection has delayed an operation that was originally planned last week. It is now due to take place tomorrow (THUR).

The popular 32-year-old has feeling from his chest up and his arms. He has some feeling in his hands and doctors at the Royal Gwent Hospital hope that an operation will improve this.

There has been a tremendous response from the speedway world with offers of help, and Ipswich Evening Star Witches plan to run a special four-team tournament on May 30. They will also be holding a collection on May 6 when they entertain Peterborough in an afternoon Bank Holiday meeting.

Keith Chapman at King's Lynn has offered his stadium free of charge for any event, while Trelawny rider Seemond Stephens has donated his points money when guesting for Hare to go to the fund.

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IPSWICH Evening Star Witches are looking to sign a Polish speedway rider.

And if the paperwork is completed in time – and a work permit obtained – he could make his debut in the Sky Sports Elite League match against Peterborough on Monday May 6.

Chris Slabon, a world under-21 finalist last year, is a rider Ipswich have shown interest in, while they have been linked with a move for Krzyztof Kasprzak.

Witches director Magda Louis is remaining tight-lipped about the name of the rider. But she did confirm that moves were afoot to bring in one, possibly two, newcomers.

"I know what I saw in our last two home matches," said Polish-born Mrs Louis. "An opportunity came along to make a change to our side – and I have taken it.

"A number of good young Polish riders are looking at how well their fellow countrymen are doing over here. They are keen to join in.

"Hopefully we can turn our fortunes round. We have no meeting after tomorrow night until our Bank Holiday match on May 6. We may have one new rider then. The other may have to wait a little longer."

With the rolling average system giving Ipswich a combined average of 44.85 at the moment, any change will be a like-for-like one. The new rider is likely to come in with a 4.50 assessed average and will add to the Ipswich's impressive list of assets.

Leigh Lanham and Jason Bunyan are set to fill the number six and seven positions in the Ipswich team for their home Sky Sports Elite League match against Coventry tomorrow.

Coventry, who are riding in the Knock-Out Cup at King's Lynn tonight, have Oxford's Paul Hurry as a guest for the injured Lee Richardson. They will use rider replacement for Stuart Robson.

American super-kid Ryan Fisher rides at number seven before travelling to Italy for Sunday's World Championship qualifying round.

Ipswich switch their riding order with Jeremy Doncaster riding at number two and Joonas Kylmakorpi switching to number four.

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