WESTCLIFF’S Ben Morley is a young man on a mission to show what he can do on the speedway track.
The 20-year-old has been wowing crowds at the Hammers track at Lakeside and earned the praise of team bigwigs for his performance as Hammers demolished the Birmingham Brummies 69-21 in their last home fixture.
Morley, who went to The Chase School in Westcliff, said he was delighted with how his season had started.
“The team’s going well and I have been pleased with the way I’m doing,” he said.
“I did well against Birmingham and it’s great to be able to show what you can do on a bike.
“I’m still learning lots about the sport and getting a great deal of help from the other more experienced riders who are happy to suggest a bike set up which will be good for me.
“I’ve been involved with bikes since I was a 15-year-old – riding a little 125. But getting into the Hammers team has been big for me,” he added.
Morley’s progress into the sport’s Elite League comes partly thanks to a change in the regulations by the governing body which came into force a few weeks ago.
The sport’s Fast Track scheme meant that teams now have to make way for younger, less experienced riders and both he and team-mate Adam Ellis are local beneficiaries of that policy.
And they’re showing their team bosses that they can cut it with the very best riders from all over the country.
Hammers’ general manager Alan Sargent said: “The scheme to encourage younger riders into the sport is working very well.
“It’s only just in and it’s a little bit like the draft in American Football in the States.
“We went for Adam Ellis who was one of our assets and Ben Morley because we knew him and knew that he would strengthen our team.
“So far the selection has paid off. The youngsters race in so-called protected heats but they have both been showing what they can do.
“The riders have the chance to improve quickly and you can see this in the way both these riders have been doing,” he added.
Morley’s own take on stepping up from Rye House to join the Elite League Hammers is pretty positive.
He said: “Everyone has been helpful, and I’d hate to single out anyone who has helped me the most, but I must mention Mikkel Bech. He’s been great.
“So far this season we’ve looked pretty solid as a team but I think that we have been unlucky away from home. Getting to race for the Hammers is taking my career forward and means that I won’t be stuck in the National Leagues.
“I’m learning so much but also trying to develop my style.
“I think that I’m pretty good at starts and I like to get to the first bend first. That way you have less trouble.
“You have to be confident enough in your own start and be prepared to commit early on, it’s more dangerous if you are a bit half-hearted,” said the youngster who – when he’s not training on the cinder track – is a gas fitter by trade.
Recently Morley has tasted bitter disappointment when he missed out on a GB Under-21 team qualifier.
“The top six went through and I think I finished about 10th,” he said. “It was at Plymouth and the track was a bit iffy, but I knew from early on that it was just not going to be my night.”
On Friday the Hammers are at home for a 1pm Elite League meeting against old rivals the Eastbourne Eagles before travelling to the south coast later the same day for the return fixture.