Bandits install new safety barrier as line-up for opening meet is confirmed

Brian Renton, George Hepburn (Co owner), John Anderson (Co owner), Colin Meredith (Champion Products), Bob Howieson, Paul Sraky, Ian Rae (Team manager), June Marr, Ian Marr, Raymond Thorpe,  with workman from Champion products installing the new safety fence for Berwick Bandits at the Speedway track
Brian Renton, George Hepburn (Co owner), John Anderson (Co owner), Colin Meredith (Champion Products), Bob Howieson, Paul Sraky, Ian Rae (Team manager), June Marr, Ian Marr, Raymond Thorpe, with workman from Champion products installing the new safety fence for Berwick Bandits at the Speedway track

BERWICK Bandits believe the installation of their new polyfoam safety barrier will help attract more big events to Shielfield Park in future.

Work on the new safety began at first light on Friday morning and was concluded on Saturday. The barrier is the first of its kind in the Premier League and has been installed at a cost of around £45,000.

Club director George Hepburn said: “We’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. This will be the very first polyfoam fence at any Premier League circuit and will hopefully lead to more and more big race meetings – such as the FIM GP Qualifier on June 16 -- being staged at Shielfield Park.

“It is costing an awful lot of money, but hopefully we’ll get a big attendance on our opening night of the season to help meet the bill – and anyway, what price a life being saved, or a serious injury lessened?”

To highlight the fact Berwick’s fence installation has been worthwhile it was confirmed at the weekend that the two British representatives in the GP Qualifier will be none other than Chris Harris and Tai Woffinden.

Harris is a former track record holder at Shielfield and has been a regular in the GP Series over the past few years.

Woffinden, the son of one-time Bandit Rob Woffinden, is regarded as one of Britain’s top young talents and his appearance at the Border track is certain to attract a lot of attention.

Promoter John Anderson said: “This just shows the quality of riders we might be able to attract to Berwick in the future with events like this.”

Track guru Colin Meridith, who designed and constructed the fence, said he believed the barrier would give the riders a more secure environment in which to race.

“It is designed with a reboud-style foam which will reshape itself after any impact,” he said. “The fence is also constructed in a way so that the riders and bikes are not sucked underneath it, which can happen with the more traditional air fences.

“The beauty of the fence here at Shielfield is that it can also remain in situ and does not need to be taken down between meetings.”

Berwick will open their new season at Shielfield on Saturday, March 17 with a meeting to raise funds for the barrier. All proceeds will go towards the fence fund. It is being sponsored by the Railway Hotel, Haddington, and all the riders in the individual-style racecard are providing their services free of charge.

The line-up is now complete and will include all seven of the 2012 Bandits along with Elite League stars Davey Watt and Adam Shields (both from Australia), Poland’s Tomasz Piszcz and top-rated Brit Olly Allen.

Also confirmed are Czech Matej Kus of Redcar, Glasgow’s Josh Grajczonek, former Berwick favourite Josef ‘Pepe’ Franc (now with Sheffield) Polish starlet Borys Miturski and another Australian, Newcastle’s Christian Henry, who was the last name on the list.

Berwick commercial manager Phil Newton said: “All these riders are racing for free, they will not be paid.

“To us they are all heroes, because as Davy Watt said said, they all want to put something back into speedway.