Tuesday April 25, 2017
This weekend sees the return to track of the Buxton Hitmen. It’s the latest start of any of the National League teams and Team Boss Jason Pipe knows some of his team will be playing catch-up.

That said some of the riders have managed to get some track time, Pipe takes up the story

‘The Riders and myself are so looking forward to finally getting our season underway this coming Sunday. It's a pity we haven't had a Challenge fixture for them to race in beforehand and get to know each other more on track, before going in to such an important Cup tie, especially when we only have three riders returning from last season. But I don't have to worry about race fitness with Matt and Ellis, who have both already been racing regularly with their Premiership and Championship teams. Tom Woolley has also managed to get himself some competitive racing in by racing recently in the Pride of the Potteries at Stoke and for Weymouth at the Isle of Wight. The rest of the lads have been on track regularly practising over the last few weeks and some have had 2nd half races.’

Sunday sees the visit of the Hitmen’s closest rivals in the First leg of the National League K.O. Cup and it hasn’t been a lucky competition for Pipe

‘Our riders are really up for this Cup tie and it's hoped we can take some sort of lead to Stoke to defend in the 2nd leg in early June time. I'm not going to say what sort of lead I'd like to see us achieve, but in my own head I know what I'll be happy with! I won't be putting that pressure on my riders though. In the past, I've not really had much success with the KOC at this level of racing. Even going back to my Redcar days with the Cleveland Bays and the Redcar Cubs, I've never progressed beyond the first round. It would be a great feeling to progress past Stoke and be the first to earn the bragging rights this season and set up a 2nd round tie against Mildenhall, who are awaiting the winners of this Cup tie. Thankfully we have our full team on track on Sunday and it will be interesting to see how they ride together. Most of the team already know each other so they shouldn't have a problem in settling down as a team and creating a great team spirit. I've decided to go with this rider line up to start with and see how we progress. 1 Matt Williamson 2 Shelby Rutherford 3 Tom Woolley (captain) 4 Lee Dicken 5 Ellis Perks 6 Lee Geary 7 Carl Basford.’

There is little respite for the Hitmen as they begin their National League Campaign in Kent on Sunday against the strong Kings side. For this one they will be without Ellis Perks.

‘After Sundays meeting, there won't be much time for a rest, as we travel to Kent the next day (Monday), for our first league meeting of the season. I'd like to think we can go there and push them close and put on a good show and turn up with our gating boots on, as their track is mainly a gater's track, for what looks like being a big bank holiday crowd (3pm start). We are without Ellis Perks but I've brought in a good guest in James Cockle. Kent are a very good home side, but hopefully we can give it a good go and come away with something to show for our efforts.’

Stoke 1 Mitchell Davey 2 Shaun Tedham 3 Ryan Terry-Daley 4 Tony Atkin (Capt) 5 Luke Priest 6 David Speight 7 David Wallinger TM : Malcolm Vasey & Adam Isherwood

Kent 1 Luke Bowen (C) 2 Luke Clifton 3 Ben Hopwood 4 Jack Thomas 5 Nathan Stoneman

6 Bradley Andrews 7 Alex Spooner

Buxton at Kent - 1 Matt Williamson 2 Shelby Rutherford 3 TBC 4 Tom Woolley (C) 5 TBC 6 Lee Geary 7 Carl Basford