Scunthorpe have more often than not fallen short of success in recent seasons, but 2023 delivered much more promise and ended with the Scorpions walking away as KO Cup Champions, defeating 2022 treble winners Poole in the final.
So, can the Scorpions continue that success in 2024? Well in short, we think there's a good chance they can!
Building a team to a 38 point limit this year posed a huge challenge to all 9 Championship clubs, but the Scorpions promotion appear to have done that very well.
The departure of Ryan Douglas was always going to leave a huge hole to fill, but Kyle Howarth is a clever replacement as he is capable of holding down a number 1 position but offers the Scorpions around another 1.5 points to play with as a result of the change. He is a rider that needs the opportunity to race and the spectacular Eddie Wright Raceway certainly provides that.
Aussie Jake Allen and Dane Michael Palm Toft return as the club's other heat leaders. Allen's career seems to have stagnated a little over the last 2 seasons, but he is still a very good rider at this level, has talent and is more than capable of performing well as a heat leader.
Palm Toft has been very unlucky with injuries in recent seasons, but when he is fit and in form there are very few in British Speedway who are faster than he is. He can be dominant around the Eddie Wright Raceway and is very capable of adding significantly to his starting average of just 7.01, but finding consistency in his performances will be key.
The Scorpions' top 5 is completed by returning Brits Simon Lambert and Connor Mountain. Lambert's form in 2023 was nothing short of heroic at times - he races with his heart on his sleeve and never gives anything short of 100%. Their captain offers huge value to the side and it would be no surprise if he were to step up to a heat leader position this season.
Mountain is another very astute signing. Riders of his ability are tough to find on a sub-6 point average and will be more valuable than ever to clubs this year given the new points limit. He is capable of winning races anywhere and will give the Scorpions a consistent performer home and away who is often a potential match winner.
The Scorpions reserves for 2024 are young Brits Nathan Ablitt and Luke Harrison. Ablitt returns for his 2nd season with Scunthorpe and has made steady progress at this level over the last 2 seasons. 16-year-old Harrison is a former 125cc and 250cc British Champion and raced regularly for Redcar in 2023. He is a very talented rider and has the potential to do well this year. Both riders will be relatively experienced compared to some of their counterparts this year and that could prove to be very handy over the course of the season.
The Scunthorpe team is well balanced has been cleverly built - it's difficult to pick any weak links in their side. There's a lot to like about this team and if their heat leaders can perform to their potential consistently, the Scorpions will be serious contenders for all honours in 2024.
SCORPIONS LINE UP FOR 2024:
Michael Palm Toft