Gladiators of the shale

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Crayford Kestrels win the first home derby at Lydd speedway circuit.

The mighty Crayford Kestrels soared to victory over Romney Falcons in the first match of the 2021 speedway season which kicked off at Belgar Farm, Lydd, last Sunday.

Held behind closed doors at the request of Her Majesty’s government, these gladiators of the shale, who share Lydd speedway circuit as their home ground, provided a barnstorming display of riding over 20 heats, with the Kestrels, perhaps taking advantage of a practice day the previous week, storming to a 78 – 42 points victory.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Lydd circuit and to commemorate the occasion a supporting event, the Lydd 25th Anniversary Trophy, will take place at each meeting. Open to individual riders not in the teams for the main event, their best scores will be taken from each meeting to decide the winner at the end of the season.

Self confessed adrenalin junkie

This event marked the debut for the Kestrels 19-year-old Polish rider Roksana Brzeska. A Brighton University student, Roksana is rapidly becoming something of a poster girl to Kestrel fans. Confident, outgoing, and a self-confessed adrenalin junkie, she is one of several youngsters that team manager Mark Shipman believes will be the future of the sport.

He said: “Speedway has been through the doldrums for quite a few years, but we’re looking to the future with this team and Roksana is one of the most promising young riders around. We’ve also got Charlie Wood, who at 13 years of age is too young to race, but he drills the bike around this circuit like a pro!”

Fledgling Kestrels rider, Roksana Brzeska

Roksana is mentored by established Kestrel rider Paul Wichello who shares both his knowledge and his bike with the Polish novice. “She’s brave and very quick to learn,” he says. “More than that,” Mark Shipman adds, “She has what I think all the best riders need – a screw loose!”

Roksana admits it’s this sense of community that she loves as much as the buzz of racing. “Everyone helps and encourages each other,” she says. “For me, being part of the team is very important. It’s like a family.”

The next Kestrels match is away to Scunthorpe Stags, but June 13th will see another Kent derby at Lydd when Kestrels host the Canterbury Crusaders. And hopefully, the doors will be open to the public.

Image Credits: Chris Lawson .

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