Tuesday March 06, 2018
PETERBOROUGH reserve Tom Bacon heads to France this week for pre-season practice – delighted to have sealed his Panthers return for the new campaign.

The 25-year-old was announced last month as the final piece in the jigsaw alongside new No.1 Scott Nicholls, and he says he’s delighted to get the chance to put his 2017 experience to good use.

Bacon, who will be testing equipment over two days at the Macon venue, made his full-time SGB Championship debut with the T.Balfe Construction Panthers last year, along with racing as a heat-leader for National League Birmingham, an arrangement which will continue this season.

He said: “I always hoped that I would be in the side and I was on the phone to Ged (Rathbone) as much as I could, pushing for an answer, but it was difficult for them because they didn’t have an answer for me.

“But finally it was a big relief when what I believe to be the sensible decision was made, and they were able to put me in.

“It makes a big difference whether you’re riding in one league or two, both in terms of speedway and personal life.

“If I ride in one league, I have to work full-time, and if I ride for two teams I can’t work at all really apart from speedway, so it’s been a rush to sort things out both speedway-wise and personal life!

“But as always I try to be very professional, and I was already being set up ready to go whether I had a team spot or not, as I always hoped I’d get a call from somewhere, and obviously Peterborough was my first choice for where I wanted to come back to.

“I learnt so much last year – firstly, all the new tracks, and secondly so much about bike set-up, and also how to prepare for different tracks both mentally and with the bikes.”

Bacon says the arrival of seven-times British Champion Nicholls into the Peterborough fold is another major positive.

Nicholls rejoins his first British club more than two decades after his last stint at the East of England Arena, as his first team place was at reserve with the Panthers way back in 1994 in the old British League Division Two.

Bacon said: “I was lucky to ride with people like Chris Harris and Kenneth Hansen last year, and they’ve got so much experience that you can feed off.

“And now you couldn’t want a better team-mate than Scott. I’m really excited to ride with him this year.

“I admired him when I was just a fan watching at Coventry, and now I admire him as a rider, so it will be a real pleasure to ride with him.

“I think when you’ve got Scott Nicholls leading the line, and riders with the experience of Ulrich (Ostergaard) and Michael (Palm Toft) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be looking to win every meeting you go into.

“We know most teams enjoy coming to Peterborough, which makes the racing very exciting, and the league will be very tough again this year.

“But I don’t think it’s changed too much. There will still be a lot of teams with a young No.7 at reserve who’s in the same boat as me, but it doesn’t really matter who it is because quite often your rides are swapped around, and plenty of times I’ve found myself on gate four against two heat-leaders! So it’s always going to be tough at that level.”

Bacon has thanked Panthers fans for their backing during the 2017 campaign and is determined to continue his progress in the new season.

He said: “I really appreciate all the fans who stuck by me throughout last year, they gave me a lot of support and encouragement and hopefully they’ll do that again.

“As always, I’ll give 100 per cent in a Peterborough race-jacket, and I’ll be trying to win races for them.”

Bacon and his team-mates will be on show at the East of England Arena for press and practice on Saturday March 17 (press 3pm/on-track 5pm), and their first official meeting is a home clash with Lakeside on Sunday March 25 (7pm).

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