SPEEDWAY: STOKE Easy Rider Potters made the perfect start to their league campaign with wins at home to Somerset and at Newport - just hours after being rocked by the news that Jan Staechmann will miss the remainder of the 2005 season.
Staechmann suffered a reaction to shoulder and collarbone injuries and has been advised to take around two-and-a-half months rest. 'The bottom of my world dropped out when they told me the news,' said the Dane.
'If I have to be out that long, I have decided to take the rest of the season off to ensure I recover fully. I'm not finished with racing yet, this is a career break and I expect to be back racing next season.'
In the meantime, Staechmann is expected to take up an offer of team manager to the Denmark team. It would involve the coming World Cup, the Grand Prix series and looking after the younger riders in Denmark.
Potters promoter Dave Tattum has urged supporters to stick with the team despite the long-term loss of Paul Pickering and now Staech-mann.
He said: 'We have to get over it and I can assure supporters I will move mountains to bring in a replacement. I have already spoken to Ryan Fisher in America and whilst he has commitments and cannot come, he is the calibre of rider I will pursue as a replacement.'
Staechmann's absence was covered admirably over the weekend with Rusty Harrison top-scoring for the Potters in both meetings.
Stoke had to come from six down after four races on Saturday before beating Somerset 48-42. Paul Clews, who was still feeling the effects of a bad crash at Work-ington, and Barrie Evans banged in a 5-1 in heat eight and maximum points from Clews and Alan Mog-ridge two races later put Stoke in front for the first time.
A last-heat 5-1 from Glenn Cunningham and Magnus Zetterstrom tightened up the scoreline.
Stoke made a similarly slow start at Newport and were 21-9 down after five races. Harrison, Clews, Carr and Kessler pulled out all the stops before Mogridge got the vital win in the last.
Stoke Spitfires lost 45-41 at Newport but take the bonus point. The Spitfires were without the injured Jack Hargreaves and Gareth Isherwood and both Michael Mitchell and Joe Reynolds had crashes.
Barrie Evans top-scored with 15 and Luke Priest had another good meeting with 11+1.