Speedway Expert & Columnist
The Poole Pirates have a winning mentality, says Kelvin Tatum
Tatum praises best team and best rider
Last Updated: 21/10/14 4:55pm
Kelvin Tatum reflects on the 'most exciting' season he can remember - and Poole Pirates' heroics...
The Pirates were outstanding over the Grand Final’s two legs.
Considering they’ve had a suspension to their number one rider for over two months and they’ve also encountered several injuries they’ve managed to keep winning. That is to their credit.
The Poole set-up is not about having a competitive team, it’s about winning.
Riders have stepped up to the plate. I thought, and possibly team manager Neil Middleditch thought, that after the Premier League Riders' Championship, where Josh Grajczonek broke his collarbone, it was looking desperate for them. They kept going, though, and there’s something about pulling on the Poole Pirates racing jacket that inspires riders, whoever they are.
This guest scenario, where riders come in from other teams, has been relied upon for almost every meeting in the past two or three months because of injuries and suspensions. That’s where coming into the Poole Pirates environment – it’s such a successful club – has inspired riders. Very rarely have riders let them down.
The whole set-up there is not about having a competitive team, it’s about winning. They don’t hide that fact. They come out at the start of the season with a team they believe can win the league. They’ve been very successful with that in the last 10 years, winning six titles.
The World Championship is clearly something Matt Ford would like Poole to focus on. It’s the Champions League of speedway. There will be emphasis on that but the domestic competition remains extremely important to them.
By and large it has been a very competitive season and more of the same is required. The competitiveness is important and from that point of view it’s been the most exciting Elite League season I can remember.
Rider of the year
I'm going for Maciej Janowski from Poole. He has led the Pirates to the league title and has been outstanding in the past three months, leading by example.
Janowski has stepped into Darcy Ward’s shoes – big shoes to fill – and done remarkably well. Replacing Ward isn't easy but he's revelled in his role as team captain.
Poole have a good chance of winning three on the spin but King’s Lynn were unlucky this season. They suffered all sorts of injuries including two important riders at a crucial stage. Half-way through, King’s Lynn were 20 points in front. Coventry will be back, they’ve got a great history. Wolverhampton had a quiet season but they are used to success so next season won’t be a walk in the park for the Pirates.
This season they introduced a new system with fast-track riders at six and seven. To a degree that has worked, but it’s a double-edged sword. Some riders have really come on but it has set others back. I think that maybe needs to be reduced to one. The programme format needs tweaking.
The new format that brought in two youngsters effectively protected them, they race against each other twice and they’re not overly exposed. It’s a way of exposing British riders. Jason Garritty and Kyle Newman have benefitted from this. That has been a positive but do we need two? I personally think we need one. Also I think the way that the heats are designed, how races are spaced out and who you race against can be reviewed – there are anomalies that don’t quite work.