The Belle Vue Colts are officially complete after the club confirmed the northern duo of Lee Payne and Paul Bowen, both from Wigan, as their final 2018 National League team signings.
Payne has become a familiar sight around the National Speedway Stadium, although he was frustrated to be on the sidelines for much of last year with an ongoing shoulder injury.
But his early season performances, in which he commanded the Mancunian shale as club captain, would come to play a vital role in the Colts’ overall league triumph at the end of the campaign.
Payne said: “I’m so keen to get back into my racing after missing out on so much last year. I’m grateful to Belle Vue for giving me the opportunity to return and I know it’ll be an exciting season.
“There’s a good blend of experience and new talent in the team. We’ve a lot to live up to after our successes in 2017 but everyone is pumped up and prepared to put everything into our year.”
Bowen makes his National League debut with Belle Vue this season, and already has fond memories of guesting for the club after claiming his first ever heat win at the National Speedway Stadium.
An avid motocrosser, as well as an ambitious speedway newcomer, on a day-to-day basis he runs the award-winning ‘Bowen Pies & Puddings’ in Wigan and is also something of an internet sensation.
Bowen said: “I have dipped my toe into speedway once before, when I rode for Buxton in 2015, but I ended up injured and after that I stopped racing, but I certainly caught the bug again last year.
“It’s such a buzz to know I’ll be riding for Belle Vue, but I’m not here to make up the numbers. I want this team to do well and our success will depend on all seven of us giving everything to our cause.”
Payne and Bowen will join team mates Jack Smith, Kyle Bickley, Ben Woodhull, Joe Lawlor and Kean Dicken as the 2018 Belle Vue Colts look to defend the National League title.
Words: Hayley Bromley
Images: Ian Charles