Laurence and Verge add to Eastbourne's fast-growing new speedway ranks
Experienced racer Nick Laurence will line up at reserve for Eastbourne Speedway’s National Development League (NDL) team - and Danno Verge has made the same move.
He’s very much a local rider, living at Golden Cross which is about three miles as the crow flies from Arlington Stadium. Nick is a well known face in the Eastbourne pits, either riding or working as a mechanic in 2019 for Richard Lawson.
He is delighted to join the Seagulls, powered by Save Thurrock Hammers, having previously ridden for the club in the NDL, as well as Mildenhall and Lakeside.
“To be announced full as a team rider is good. I am very excited,” he said. “I will bring experience to the team because I have been around for some time. I am obviously not the top rider in the league but I have seen enough and ridden enough to know what’s what about equipment and set-ups.
“It frustrates me sometimes because in my head I am a ten times better rider than I am on a bike but I can pass that experience on to the younger riders. It is also good to see them progress.”
Nick is ready to start racing. He said: “I have three engines in total, one I have used in practise and two new ones. The van is all sorted. We are all there and ready to go. I am looking forward to getting back on a bike. There is only so much training you can do. Being ‘bike fit’ is totally different than running down the road.
“You can think you are as fit as a fiddle running but as soon as you get on a bike it is completely different.”
In 2020 Nick rode in a couple of meetings at Lydd, did a private practice at Scunthorpe and then a meeting at the north Lincolnshire track. “I am just getting to the point as to wondering whether I can get to the bottom of a straight and actually turn,” he joked. “I about six weeks away from that, so I can hope I can ride before then.”
Eastbourne Speedway director Ian Jordan said: “When Kelsey Dugard approached us and asked to be released to ride for Newcastle Gems so that he could also fulfil a full-time job as mechanic for Ben Barker and be closer to his daughter, it removed an obvious contender for one of the starting reserve slots in the new Seagulls side, alongside Nathan Ablitt.
“We looked long and hard at a number of riders with NDL experience in 2019 who could have slotted in within the points available, and also at a few riders who are probably the best within the MSDL / Northern Development League structure who have yet to be given an NDL opportunity.
“The more we looked, the more Nick seemed to be an ideal candidate. He has has an NDL season in 2017 with Lakeside, he performed admirably in 2018 when called upon to ride for the double winning NDL team under the management of Martin and Connor Dugard and is above all a team player with a vast amount of technical and bike set up knowledge from his time as a race day mechanic to several top riders.
“We think that Nick can be a great mentor to some of our younger riders, some not yet old enough to race in the NDL, who will join our Academy Development Squad, like Vinnie Joe Foord.
“The more we looked at the make-up of reserve pairings around the rest of the league, the more we felt that Nick not only has unfulfilled potential and business as a rider, that he can also be one of the more potent Reserves in the League, given his excellent gating ability.
“Nick will spend a lot of time this season spannering for Edward Kennett and I have to say, having spoken to Edward, he seems equally keen to reciprocate and spanner for Nick in the NDL and that's just the kind of team bonding between Eagles and Seagulls that we are keen to encourage.
Meanwhile, Verge comes to Arlington having previously ridden for Kent, Mildenhall and Isle of Wight. Verge, who lives at Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, said: “It is almost like a childhood dream come true.
“I grew up riding on the Eastbourne junior track and when I was younger we always stayed on after the Saturday training school to watch the meetings.”
Verge admitted he had plenty to learn about finding the right lines around the Arlington track. “I haven’t scored mega round there but I was the same when I signed for the Isle of Wight. I wasn’t any good around the big tracks and I knew that was what I needed to improve my career.
“In 2019 after two years at the Isle of Wight I had a really good season. My aim is the same. If I can get dialled in within a couple of meetings I can start doing a job. It will be a good track to master.”
He added: “I am really excited about the opportunity. I want to find a club I can settle down with. I am a loyal person.”
Verge has already found some sponsors for the season and hopes to add a few more before the season begins. The rider’s first name will spark memories for many Eastbourne fans of Stefan Danno but it is the Swede’s brother, Roland where the connection is made.
“My dad rode for Hackney and he rode with Roland Danno and he eventually ended up living with my dad at my nan and granddad’s house when he first came over. They are very good friends and I have been out to Sweden a couple of times to see him and they’ve been over to stay with us.
“Roland Danno was my dad’s best friend and that’s where my name comes from,” Danno Verge explained.
Director Jordan commented: "Danno has a wealth of NDL experience gleaned over the last five or six seasons for one still so relatively young. He was unfortunate to lose his planned place in the 2020 Isle of Wight Warriors team due to some late changes there and we are delighted to welcome him onboard the Seagulls project.
"With the reduction in points limit to 35 points, solid second strings with an average in the 5-6 point range, with the scope to improve further will be a vital component of any successful side. Danno has shown us that he has a fire and determination to go further in the sport and we are delighted that he is joining the Seagulls NDL squad.
"We also plan to stage regular second-half NDL, and separate MSDL level individual races after our “Championship only” fixtures, to offer our developing and younger NDL and MSDL-level riders some regular track time pretty much every week, and Danno has signed up for that initiative and will become a key mentor and role model in that respect of the younger and developing young rider asset base.
"We’re also delighted to confirm that we have agreed a two-year deal for Danno to give him the security and solid base that we both feel he needs to optimise his undoubted potential and commitment and passion for the sport."
Matches will be all ticket, booked and paid for in advance online. There will be no cash/card admissions on the day.
This is to ensure Arlington Stadium meets all Covid-19 rules.
To purchase tickets for the Championship / NDL Double Header v Newcastle and the South Coast Derby v Poole, go to the club website.
Please note: existing 2020 Season and 10 Match Ticket Holders do not need to pre-book – please just turn up with your 2020 Season Ticket or 10 Match Pass and go to the dedicated ST/10 Match Turnstile (which will be clearly marked)