Eagles boss says Timo has toughened up

Timo Lahti is focused on keeping his team place

Timo Lahti is focused on keeping his team place

First published in Sport by

Timo Lahti has been told he is developing a meaner streak this season.

And it might have something to do with the fact he is fighting for his team place.

The young Finn looks to build on his paid-14 last time out at Arlington, in the 61-30 thrashing of Coventry, when Swindon visit tonight (7.30pm).

He will be up against his good mate and former colleague Simon Gustafsson, the Swindon rider on loan from Eagles who has been warned he is riding for his place after a slow start to the year.

The home team will be wary of Gustafsson, recalling no doubt how he responded to such make-or-break situations last season.

But they will also expect Lahti to demonstrate the tougher edge in the chase for three more home Elite League points.

Lahti’s 11+3 (5) versus an admittedly weakened Bees outfit came after he took a hefty whack at the start of his first race which wrote off his favoured bike.

He also showed a few signs of getting stuck in towards the end of the 52-44 reverse at Birmingham on Wednesday, although he was hit by the general malaise in early heats.

Geer said: “Riders can wipe each other out and it almost happened with Timo in the first race last Saturday.

“He took a heavy knock and was lucky to come back and get a few points.

“But he is getting a lot tougher, which is good.

“When he got behind he always got in the positions to overtake but he never actually overtook.

“This year he is riding hard, he is keeping the throttle on and going past people.

“He is making it so much easier for himself.”

Lahti was brought back into the team at short notice before the start of the season due to injury to Kim Nilsson, the man who had pipped him to a team place.

He has remained in the side on a month-by-month basis and knows Nilsson is regaining fitness and form in the Swedish leagues.

Geer added: “The fact he is under pressure is probably also a factor.

“I know he is so busy. He has 12 meetings in 13 days.

“He is busy in Sweden, Poland and Denmark.”

Lahti insists he does not feel under pressure for his place.

Being given a month to impress might seem pretty cut-throat by Elite League standards.

But in Sweden and Poland, where squad systems are in place, riders can be axed after one bad meeting.

Or even after one bad race in some cases.

Lahti said: “I don’t really think about only being given a month.

“I just try to do my best and score big points and, if I do that, I don’t think they are going to kick me out.”

Eagles will be happy to operate rider-replacement for injured Joonas Kylmakorpi on home shale if necessary.

The Finn damaged medial knee ligaments when he fell at Birmingham and is rated very doubtful.

Swindon track Justin Sedgman, a lower-average guest, in place of their No.1 Peter Kildemand, who is involved in the European Championship.

Eagles: Pedersen, Lahti, Kylmakorpi or r/r, Wodoward, Michelsen, Blackbird, Halsey.

Swindon: Sedgman, Gustafsson, Morris, North, Batchelor, Greaves, S.Worrall.

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