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PREVIEW: “Speedway will be the winner,” says Crump ahead of sell-out opening fixture

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Jason Crump insists “speedway will be the winner” when a capacity crowd watches Oxford Cheetahs’ first competitive meeting in 15 years tonight when hosting Scunthorpe Scorpions.

Two-thousand fans will be trackside to mark the beginning of a highly anticipated new era for the club and its British Speedway Championship campaign as part of Oxford Stadium’s major regeneration project.

The multi-purpose venue last opened its doors to the public 3,392 days ago and has been closed ever since. For nine months, a dedicated team of track staff, tradespeople and volunteers have worked around the clock to restore the stadium to its former glory.

Crump – a three-times world speedway champion – expects it to be an emotional evening for many people. But the 46-year-old won’t allow the occasion to get to his riders, who he insists are focused on launching Cheetahs’ new era in winning style.

“It’s huge for the city and huge for speedway,” said Crump. “It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people and it hasn’t just happened overnight.

“I’m sure every single fan wants to start off with a win, especially because the first match is at home. The true winner is the speedway public of Oxford. After so long out of the game, to have the sport back means everyone involved is a winner.

“Our riders are, however, there to do a job and earn a living. I’m sure there will be a lot of emotion on the parade for the supporters and Jamie (Courtney, promoter). The riders are now at the point where they’re ready to race.”

Cheetahs will be led by seven-times British Speedway Champion Scott Nicholls with Troy Batchelor, Cameron Heeps, Kyle Newman and Jack Thomas filling the main body of the team. Josh MacDonald and Dillon Ruml will race at reserve.

Crump will be joined trackside by experienced team manager Peter Schroeck and take charge of his first meeting as manager following a sparkling career which started in 1991.

He added: “The team’s definitely capable. I’m sure the guys will have a few butterflies, but that’s normal.

“We’ve got a good bunch of riders and two really good leaders in Scott (Nicholls) and Troy (Batchelor). Being team manager isn’t quite as nerve-wracking as being a rider, but I definitely feel more responsibility.”

Tapes up for heat one of this evening’s fixture is at 7.30pm. Gates open at 5.30pm.

Supporters are reminded tonight’s meeting is a SELL OUT and no tickets will be available to purchase on the gate.

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