VACULIK CONCERNS AFTER SWINDON CRASH
With hindsight Danny King says Lions' clash with Swindon that saw Martin Vaculik suffer a suspected broken ankle “shouldn’t have started."
13 / 04 / 2018, 12:48
Leicester skipper Danny King admits riders were caught out by conditions at Swindon last night, and with hindsight admits a meeting which saw Martin Vaculik suffer a suspected broken ankle “shouldn’t have started.”
The FIM Speedway Grand Prix star could face a considerable stay on the sidelines after being caught up in a high-speed pile-up in his first-ever SGB Premiership heat.
Robins No.1 Nick Morris was leading heat one, but pirouetted going into turn three on a very greasy track, spinning off into the fence, with Leicester pair Vaculik and Michael Palm Toft following and Swindon’s Adam Ellis just about staying upright.
It’s a shame really. What can you say? Three or four riders down on the first lap. Looking back now, it shouldn’t have started, should it?
While the Aussie walked away unharmed with only a bent bike, concerns quickly grew over Vaculik with an ambulance heading out on to the shale and the rider receiving gas and air to relieve the pain. Palm Toft hopped back to the pits aided by Kyle Newman and is believed to have sprained his ankle.
It’s unclear how long Vaculik will be sidelined, with the season-opening PZM Warsaw SGP less than a month away on May 12.
On a night where mist and light rain hit Blunsdon and made the track very glassy, King accepts the meeting shouldn't have started. But he admits neither side expected conditions to be that treacherous when they walked the track.
Asked if he thought racing should have started, he replied: “Personally, no. But it’s so difficult. It wasn’t raining, the track was dry and very rarely do we have to race in this misty fog.
“It’s a shame really. What can you say? Three or four riders down on the first lap. Looking back now, it shouldn’t have started, should it?
“The track wasn’t as wet as you’d expect. I think maybe it was disguised with the top dressing. When we walked it, none of us thought it looked overly wet. Obviously it didn’t seem a problem. But in reality it was. For three or four riders to come down, there was obviously a bit of an issue there.
“It’s difficult. I don’t think you can blame anyone. It’s just the conditions caught us out.”
On top of their concerns over Vaculik and Palm Toft, Leicester are still waiting for Josh Bates to recover from the back injury he suffered in a sledging accident last month.
King is stunned by Lions catastrophically unlucky start to 2018. He said: “I don’t really know what to say. I’m a bit lost for words to be honest. I just hope Martin is going to be okay. He’s in a lot of pain. Fingers crossed it’s nothing too serious.
“I’m just speechless – I can’t believe it. We’ll see what the deal is with Martin and then look at our options.”
Palm Toft didn’t expect conditions at Swindon to be so slippery and believes riders should be given a chance to test the track before a meeting.
He tweeted: “Can see a lot of comments about the track and whether it should have been called off before heat one. I walked the track and it looked very different compared to how it rode.
“If we have a practice lap or two to test the tracks out before a meeting, a lot of incidents could be avoided. #sortitout”
Swindon team manager Alun Rossiter defended the decision to commence racing at the Abbey Stadium following a backlash from fans online.
Nobody was forced out there, nobody was told they must go out and ride, nobody said they wouldn’t, the consensus was simply get on with it.
He said: “Before I go any further, I just want to repeat this – everyone at Swindon Speedway would like to offer our sincere best wishes to Martin Vaculik for a quick recovery from his injury. Nobody wants to see that. Similarly Michael Palm Toft.
“There are certain issues which need addressing here and I’m keen to point out the facts. Not just opinion gleaned from reading a timeline, facts.
“I was stood with two top Leicester riders just minutes before the first race and at no time did either rider express any concerns about the track to me. At no time did any rider express any concerns about the track to the referee Chris Durno.
“On the contrary, we were complimented for the way the track appeared after all the rain it had taken. The biggest concern was the mist and the risk to visibility – not the track.
“Our clerk of the course told riders we weren’t doing a normal parade but they were free to go out and try a lap on the track – nobody took him up on this offer.
“Nobody was forced out there, nobody was told they must go out and ride, nobody said they wouldn’t, the consensus was simply get on with it.
“I’ve read a broad spectrum of opinions and the truth is hindsight is a wonderful thing. Some riders involved have been on social media saying certain things, well why didn’t they say it to the referee, clerk of the course or myself? Anybody who knows me knows I’ll always listen. I’m a former rider remember. I want safety for the boys.
“I feel for the injured boys and feel for our fans and sponsors. It was a bad night and the weather has made this the worst possible start for the sport across the country. Speedway in the UK is in desperate need of a break in the weather, more than ever before.”