Bridger buzzing for Hammers return
PUBLISHED: 15:40 16 March 2016 | UPDATED: 15:40 16 March 2016
Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY
Elite League club sign promising youngster
Returning Lakeside ace Lewis Bridger is raring to go ahead of his comeback in the Spring Trophy on Friday (8pm).
The British star will make his first competitive appearance in almost a year as the Hammers kick-off their 2016 campaign.
He will first be put through his paces at press and practice day on Thursday before taking on his team-mates in the individual meeting.
A total of 12 riders, all with Lakeside connections, will do battle at the Arena-Essex Raceway with a number of Hagon Shocks Academy races also taking place over the course of the evening.
Bridger has revealed he is heading into the meeting feeling relaxed and with no expectations after his time away from the sport.
The all-action 26-year-old said: “I’ve got the same routine this week, and I’m just going to try and treat things as usual.
“I’ll ease myself into it on Thursday at press and practice and try not to think too much about things.
“I’ve had great preparation the last few weeks. Things went really well out in Croatia with Team GB, we got the bikes working nicely so I’m feeling good after that.
“Hopefully we can get the same feel to the bikes around Lakeside on Thursday and then I can head into the Spring Trophy meeting on Friday feeling confident.
“I feel like the pressure isn’t really on because I’ve been off the bike for a year, and I’m not really going in with any expectations.
“I guess everyone would like to be able to have a year off and come back stronger so in that way I’m sure a lot of people will be hoping I struggle a bit.
“But I’ve worked harder than ever with my fitness and diet over the winter, and I’ve got the best team I’ve ever had around me with Revolution.
“I’m just hoping that will all pay off and I’ll get the reward for it. It might not happen straight away, but hopefully I can hit the ground running with a good meeting on Friday.”
Bridger will be joined in the line-up by all of his 2016 Hammers’ team-mates alongside number eight Dennis Jonsson.
Former Hammers’ favourites Leigh Lanham, Stuart Robson and Ben Morley will also return to the Arena-Essex Raceway for the event.
Supporters will have the chance to walk the track prior to the meeting and take part in an autograph and photograph session at 7pm.
Line-up: Andreas Jonsson, Stuart Robson, Kim Nilsson, Richard Lawson, Edward Kennett, Piotr Swiderski, Lewis Kerr, Robert Mear, Ben Morley, Leigh Lanham, Dennis Jonsson, Lewis Bridger.
*Talented youngster Zach Wajtknecht has put pen to paper with Lakeside Hammers as a full club asset.
After bursting onto the scene as part of Birmingham’s National League title-winning side last season, the 18-year-old is widely considered one of Britain’s hottest prospects.
He will take the step into the Premier League with Somerset in 2016 whilst spearheading Birmingham’s bid to defend their title.
However, he has opted to commit his long-term future to the Vortex Hammers – a move he believes will pay dividends.
“I’m over the moon to join Lakeside as a club asset - for a club like them to show an interest in me is a big confidence booster in itself,” said Wajtknecht.
“There were a number of reasons why Lakeside appealed to me and a number of people played their part.
“One of the main reasons I’ve signed for Lakeside is because I see it as a really good challenge for myself.
“I know I need to improve on the smaller tracks more than anything and with Lakeside being so tight and technical, it will mean I’m always pushing myself to be the best that I can be on all levels.
“Being a club asset for an Elite League side means I can try and put myself in the shop window and show them I want to ride for them in the future.
“I think this will be a really beneficial move for me in the long run but meanwhile I can’t wait to have what will hopefully be another successful season for me with Somerset and Birmingham.”
Meanwhile, Lakeside co-promoter Jon Cook has hailed the influence of former Hammers’ favourite Paul Hurry in making the deal happen.
Cook added: “We are delighted to welcome Zach to the home of the Hammers, he is an excellent talent and we look forward to working with him over the coming seasons.
“I’d like to thank Paul Hurry for advising Zach that we are the club best served to help him achieve his speedway goals and Paul too will be back at the Raceway as both a talent scout and within our pits team on racenights.”