AFTER nine heats of Friday night’s Elite League opener against Lakeside I have to admit I was pretty worried.
The Robins were 11 points down and had yet to provide a heat winner at a track which is far from a favourite amongst the team.
The heat 10 5-1 from Troy Batchelor and Nick Morris, just before the interval, convinced me my pre-meeting prediction of a 10-point loss might have been a little harsh.
What followed taught me never to write a team managed by Mr Rossiter off, again, but what else did we take from the meeting?
Home advantage is going to be crucial amongst the reserves this season.
Lakeside probably isn’t the best place to judge this, given it’s natural home advantage to all riders, but Friday’s meeting made it clear how big an advantage there is going to be for the kids this season.
Most of the National League riders drafted this year have little or no experience at any of the 10 Elite League track but, in time, the youngsters will gain plenty of crucial lap time at their home circuits. In contrast, away reserves will only visit each track twice in 2014 which isn’t enough time to pick up their many intricacies.
Kildemand and Batchelor are going to be a force.
If we didn’t know it already, the Robins have a very strong top two on their hands. Peter Kildemand performed superbly on his first outing as an Elite League number one, on his least favourite track, showing plenty of responsibility and consistency he sometimes lacked.
Batchelor is the ultimate Steady Eddie, capable of raising his game when he needs to. These are perfect qualities for a captain.
Ritchings will compete.
While some have questioned whether or not the Purton youngster has what it takes, Ritchings showed on Friday night he is up for the fight. Yes, he didn’t win a heat and was outscored by both Hammers reserves, but this was only his second outing at Lakeside and he battled very well in heat nine. Promising.
Always look for your partner, especially on a tactical.
The Robins were lucky the point they threw away in heat six didn’t come back to haunt them. There was confusion between Morris and Kildemand which resulted in the Aussie not allowing his number one through while wearing black and white. Both riders can be deemed to be at fault, a bit more awareness is necessary next time if the Robins are to avoid being the masters of their own downfall.