2018 READING RACERS team

Nick Laurence

 

Nick, who lives a stone’s throw from the Racers’ adopted home at Eastbourne, was drafted into the 2018 squad at the end of June when Charlie Brooks stood down having never got to turning a wheel for the team.

 

Nick is 28 and was an integral part of Reading’s SDL Championship win in 2017. He has also held down a team place in the National League for both Eastbourne and Lakeside in the past, as well as being a popular choice of guest, but is still looking for that breakthrough to become a permanent fixture at the higher level.

 

With this experience, Nick is very much the wise head in the Racers camp, and the younger riders in the team have often benefitted from his advice and knowledge. Nick is as keen as we are to grab a second title win this season!

Jamie Bursill

Reading Racers are very pleased to be able to add Jamie Bursill to their Southern Development League squad for the 2018 season.

Jamie started racing 3 years ago on 150cc bikes, after seeing Speedway on television. Last year was his first on a 500cc, and he was soon named as number 8 for the Isle of Wight National League team, giving him some great early experience. He also made numerous appearances in the SDL, including one for Reading against Exeter at their adopted home in Somerset, scoring 3 and a bonus, which included a 5-1 heat win with Stephen Whitehouse.

Jamie is relishing the challenge of riding home matches for Reading at Eastbourne, saying “I feel it’s the best track for me to learn on as it’s a tricky track but once I get the hang of it, it will be sweet!”

And having invested in machinery for the new season, he shares the ambition of his new team mates, saying “I can’t wait for the season to start and go for the title”.

Jamie only turned 17 last November and while he’s still one of the less experienced riders around, he has certainly shown enough talent to be given a team berth for 2018 and a proper shot at the SDL with the reigning champions.

William O'keefe

Returning to complete the Reading Racers official 2018 SDL squad is teenager William O’Keefe.

Suffolk born and based, William rode in the majority of the Racers matches in their victorious return to the track last year. At just 16 years old (he turns 17 in March) it means Reading’s 6 man squad is made up entirely of teenagers as they tackle the Development League for a second time.

William started on Grass Track and was once under the wing of former Racers captain Jeremy Doncaster. After winning a team slot with Plymouth in the National League for a spell last season, he is keen to get back into the 3rd tier and continue his progress up the Speedway ladder. He also made numerous guest appearances at that level in 2017, gaining experience of most tracks, which will stand him in good stead for the 2018 SDL as he looks to impress the senior league promoters.

So Reading head into the season with not only a squad full of youngsters, but with no National league riders as they seek to replicate last year’s success with a team which is low on experience compared to 2017, but packed full of potential and enthusiasm.

The management team are both excited and confident about their line up, and are sure that while it will be almost impossible to repeat last year’s unbeaten run, this team will certainly be in contention for a second consecutive league win.

Daniel Gilkes

 

 

Daniel Gilkes hails from Northampton and won’t reach his 16th birthday until May 2018.

Dan started riding motorcycles at the age of 6 and did a few Moto-X and Grass Track events.

He has taken part in a handful of Young Lions Youth Speedway rounds – finishing on the podium each time – mostly at 125cc level, and had actually taken part in very few competitive meetings up until 2017 when he had what could be called his first full season of racing.

This will probably come as some surprise to anyone who saw him race this year. In his one match for the Racers in September, he scored 5 points and a bonus, this coming from just 2 completed rides! He also rode 4 matches for Halifax in the NJL and including bonuses scored 33 points from a possible 36.

This young man is definitely one to watch, and when he is riding regularly and gets into his stride, Dan is going to be a real handful at Development League level.

Needless to say, the Racers management are looking forward to working with him and his family, and sincerely hope that they can help him to make great strides in 2018.

Stephen Whitehouse (Captain)

 

At 18 years old, Stephen has now been riding for 4 years. Having previously ridden in the Midland Development League, he found that adding the Southern version with the Racers saw him make great strides during 2017.

 

We certainly felt that not only did his results improve as the season progressed, but both his confidence and maturity also grew as he got more racing under his belt.

 

Such was his progress, that having started 2017 struggling to score points, Stephen will go into 2018 looking to become a major player at Development League level, and will also welcome any NL guest bookings to help to take him to the next level.

Rhys Laker

 

 

Rhys, who is from Herne Bay and turned 17 in February already has links to the Racers as his Dad Gary was Dave Mullett’s mechanic back in the ‘90s.

Having started riding in 2015 on a 125cc at the age of 14, he was the Kent mascot, and was also trained and sponsored by Russell Paine and his Powerslide Speedway School.

Rhys moved through the 125 & 250cc classes onto a 500cc and competed in amateur meetings at Iwade, Rye House and King’s Lynn.

He is looking forward to meeting his 2018 team mates and everybody else at Reading Speedway.

“I’m very proud and excited to become a Reading Racer in 2018, to be part of an iconic club such as Reading is an honour. Dad and I have spent time getting two bikes ready as well as building a third for winter practice so as to hit the ground running.  I have a new Kevlar suit and can’t wait for the season to start”.

Rhys is an enthusiastic and well mannered young lad with a good attitude, and we feel that we have another squad member who embodies exactly what the development leagues are intended for.