BERWICK Bandits debutants Lewis Kerr and Danyon Hume face a baptism of fire when the season launches at the Northumberland raceway on Saturday.

Opponents Workington have named eve of season signing Claus Vissing at No.2 for the first leg of the Border Trophy clash.

Which means that the first heat of the season sees the Dane team up with Craig Cook who averages 12.75 points from his previous 12 visits to Shielfield Park.

That haul includes three maximums and Cook is also the fastest man ever around the circuit, his 62.8 seconds a tenth of a second faster than another Cumbrian legend, Dan Bewley, who holds the official track record around the current, 20 metres shorter, circuit, set during the 2020 British Under-21 Final.

Berwick boss Stewart Dickson said: “You couldn’t ask for a tougher opening heat.

“But to be fair both Lewis and Danyon looked sharp and fast in practice last week and they, like all seven Jewson Bandits this year, will give it their all no matter who they are up against.

“Nothing is won or lost in the first heat of a challenge match but it does promise to be a cracking way to start a season.”

With five Berwick debutants and three Comets having only their second team meeting on British shale, Dickson says that the form book goes out of the window on Saturday.

“Craig, Claus and Troy Batchelor are all vastly experienced but Britain is new for the likes of Tate Zischke and Antti Vuolas, although both crossed our radar during the winter and are highly rated after success in the Polish under-24 league.

“Much of the pre-season spotlight has been on Celina Liebmann and a lot of people are looking forward to seeing her first laps around Berwick.

“Shielfield Park is a unique circuit, big, fast, highly banked and some riders take a few visits to work it out.

“Others get it straight away such as Bastian Borke who came with Edinburgh for the first time and put in the match-winning performance which was one of the reasons we chased his signature during the winter.”

Dickson’s winter revamp of a Berwick side, which won just five times in 2023, means that the Jewson Bandits hand home debuts to Drew Kemp, Freddy Hodder and Bastian Borke in addition to Kerr and Hume, a rebuild which has been well received by the club’s supporters.

Dickson added: “There is definitely a buzz around the town at the moment and it is up to us to keep that going.

“I don’t see this as just a challenge match. Anything with a cup up for grabs is worth winning.”

The destination of the Border Trophy will be decided at Workington’s GT Tyres Arena on Sunday (3pm).


Bandits: Lewis Kerr, Danyon Hume, Jye Etheridge, Drew Kemp, Rory Schlein, Freddy Hodder, Bastian Borke.

Comets: Craig Cook, Claus Vissing, Antti Vuolas, Tate Zischke, Troy Batchelor, Sam McGurk, Celina Liebmann. 


Words by George Dodds.

Images by Taylor Lanning.