TRACK craft will prove more important than engine speed tonight, according to James Shanes, as Swindon Robins cut the ribbon on their new track when hosting Poole Pirates in the Premiership Supporters’ Cup.

The 22-year-old, who signed for the Robins in December, was the first rider to take to the Abbey Stadium’s new track during a behind-closed-doors practice session on Tuesday afternoon.

Shanes had one stint on the circuit before ending his practice session while work on the surface continued ahead of its opening tonight.

Admitting it will take time for the new track to bed in, Shanes said the current loose nature of the surface will suit his style this evening – and he hopes to cash in after scoring 2+1 on his Robins debut at Wolverhampton on Monday night.

Shanes said: “It’s a brilliant shape, we spoke with all the track staff and they know what they’ve got to do and how they’ve got to do it.

“I can see when the track settles that it will be a very good race track.

“I did a couple of slow laps to start – the initial track record was probably four minutes!

“Once I got into it, with the shape of the track I could start to see different lines – there were three different combinations from my time.

“Staff are working hard to get it better for the meeting.”

Adam Ellis came to grief during the practice session when sliding off entering turn four.

But Shanes said a few quirks will make the meeting fun for himself.

“I like a track when it’s a bit rough and different, it makes it more challenging,” he added.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love somewhere like Belle Vue where it’s big and fast.

“But when a track has a few quirks to it, it makes it fun to ride.

“The rider with the fastest engine won’t win, riders will have to think about what lines to ride and where to go.

“I wasn’t fussed about the track at all, I quite enjoy a few bumps.”