Buxton Hitmen Speedway boss Jason Pipe praised his riders for their contribution - some of who raced through the pain barrier - in defeat to neighbours Stoke Potters.
It wasn’t the start everyone at Hi-Edge was expecting when the Hitmen entertained Stoke on Sunday. The Hitmen’s hopes took a downward turn with the non-arrival of new signing Ellis Perks who was sidelined with flu.
As Perks had not yet donned the Hitmen race jacket, manager Pipe was left with little option but to draft in number eight and three pointer William O’Keefe. Furthermore, Lee Dicken was missing through concussion.
Pipe was left frustrated by Perks’ absence and revealed that number one Matt Williamson had been carrying an injury from a smash riding the night before.
“It wasn’t the way we would have liked to have started our 2017 season,” said Pipe. “But on the day of the meeting we were hit by the withdrawal of heat leader Ellis Perks, who had to pull out of riding in our meeting because he was full of flu and had been all week and told me it was getting worse.
“So to see him line up for his Premiership club the next afternoon came as a surprise! Unfortunately for us, we were only allowed to cover Ellis with a 3.00 point unattached rider, because under the rules, Ellis hasn’t yet turned a wheel for Buxton, so we were unable to have a facility to cover for him.
“Our number eight William O’Keefe, getting an earlier than expected ride with the Hitmen. I’d like to thank William O’Keefe and his family for turning around from being on their way to Rye House and arriving at Buxton with only half an hour to spare to tapes up.
“It was always going to be an uphill task without Perks and to make matters worse, we lost Lee Dicken to concussion and a painful Knee in his third ride, after colliding with his team-mate Tom Woolley.
Pipe added: “I’d also like to say a big thank you to our number one Matt Williamson. Matt crashed heavily last Saturday at Workington in his last ride and he was very lucky to walk away from it. But he decided he’d still turn up today and ride through that pain barrier.
“People may look and think and say that Matt scored 14 and there was nothing wrong with him, but I can assure everyone that he was putting on a brave face. Matt shouldn’t have been riding, but with us not having Perks, he knew we wouldn’t get a facility for him neither and he did this to help us out.
“It also didn’t help Matt that his shock absorber collapsed on him when in second place in heat one and he came down on the third bend, to then quickly remount and still finish second in a five lap race! Stoke throughly deserved their victory but at the end of the day it stood out like a sore thum we were a heat leader short on the day.
“Unfortunately for us, Stoke are favourites to go through in the KOC, but we’ll go to their place in the second leg and make it a good meeting and you just never know what may happen.”
BUXTON 35: Matt Williamson 14, Tom Woolley 8, Lee Geary 6, Shelby Rutherford 3+1, Lee Dicken 3+1, William O’Keefe 1, Carl Basford 0.
STOKE 54: Tony Atkin 11+2, David Wallinger 11+1, Luke Priest 10, Ryan Terry-Daley 7+3, Shaun Tedham 7+1, Mitchell Davey 4+1, David Speight 4+1.