A NEW era will dawn for Swindon Robins tonight as they cut the ribbon on their new racing surface when hosting Poole Pirates in the Premiership Supporters’ Cup (7.30pm).

A week later than planned, the new Abbey Stadium track got the green light from Robins chief Terry Russell following a behind-closed-doors practice session on Tuesday afternoon.

Troy Batchelor, Adam Ellis, Zach Wajtknecht and James Shanes attended Tuesday’s session, though Batchelor opted not to practice while Ellis, Wajtknecht and Shanes completed one run each – Ellis’ ride ending in a fall on the fourth turn.

Riders’ feedback has been passed onto track staff, who have had 48 hours to turn the surface into shape ahead of the grand opening.

Team manager Alun Rossiter has since reported track conditions have improved significantly, and the club is ready to welcome the crowds through the turnstiles for this evening's curtain raiser. 

It will be the second time Swindon take to track this year, following Monday night’s 46-44 defeat against Wolverhampton Wolves at Monmore Green in the SGB Premiership.

But focus will now switch to the inaugural introduced Supporters’ Cup this evening – and Rossiter admits he is excited at the prospect of racing on the new track.

He said: “It will be good to get on the new track, it’s exciting times.

“I have my fingers crossed that we can put in another good performance and pick up the three points on offer.

“We’ll get some laps around it and pack the material back down, then things will start to look good.”

Defending SGB Premiership play-off champions Poole enter tonight’s meeting off the back of an encouraging performance at the East of England Showground against Peterborough Panthers on Monday night.

The Pirates secured a last heat 4-2 to record a narrow 46-44 loss against the Cambridgeshire side.

But Rossiter insists focusing on his side’s strengths must be made priority ahead of the Dorset club’s visit to the Abbey.

He added: “After all these years of reading what the pundits have to say and what they believe, there is little point in thinking about it (Poole).

“You have to see how riders bed in – David (Lampart) is an example of this.

“He will perform better on other tracks, we can’t worry about any other team – we can only worry about ourselves.

“Whoever comes up, we just have to beat them.

“It was a really good battling performance from James (Shanes) on Monday night at Wolves.

“Zach (Wajtknecht) had a few issues, but he can overcome them. The more he rides, the more it will come for him.”