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CYCLE SPEEDWAY: Ray on course to land British title.

Byline: JOHN WILKINSON

COVENTRY Devlin's Newsagents cycle speedway star Ray Oliver is a man on a mission as he races into the new season with the British championship title firmly in his sights.

And he will be going for glory on a custom-made Speedster bike made in Coventry by frame builders LA Cycles of Far Gosford Street.

Former world champion Oliver, who lives in Wyken, is determined to land the 2002 British crown and so secure the only major title to elude his in a glittering track career.

After an absence of 14 years, the 35-year-old was one of an initial ten riders who reintroduced the shale sport to Coventry last year.

Due to work commitments and a new-born baby, he was restricted in his outings for the team but still scored freely when available.

Now, with the allocation of the British Finals to the Midlands this year over the late August Bank Holiday weekend, Oliver intends to make an all out assault on the title.

Oliver's 1988 world championship victory in Australia makes him the only currently competing Coventry-born world champion in any sport.

"I am fitter, better prepared and more focused this year," he said.

"By being available for most team matches this season, I will be in peak condition for the British Finals."

Commented Alan Tyler, director of LA Cycles: " With the re-introduction of cycle speedway to the city last year, we were keen to get involved.

"By backing Ray - a Coventry kid who has been the world's best - we hope the Speedster machine will soon be the choice of champions."

Oliver will lead the Coventry attack in the opening pre-season challenge match at their Hearsall Common track against 2001 Premier League Champions Wednesfield on Sunday, March 10 (3pm).

Coventry, who will again line up in there distinctive blue, yellow and black colours, courtesy of sponsors Devlin's Newsagents, will compete in the British League this season and, after last years delayed start, they have a full programme of racing.

Major meeting include the Lawnworks International in July, the British Senior semi-finals in August and the British Junior Team Final in September.

Coventry will travel to Newport (Wales) in the first round of the British Team Championship, the Blue Riband event in cycle speedway, on April 28.

Coventry have signed heavyweight fire-brand Alan Brown on a full transfer from Norwich. All of last year's seniors will again be in action, together with the abundance of new juniors who joined after the revamped Hearsall Common track reopened last summer.

For further information on cycle speedway ring Mick Docker 024 76 619608 or log on to www.coventrycsc.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

ON THE RIGHT TRACK: Former world cycle speedway champion Ray Oliver (right) pictured on his new Speedster machine with Alan Tyler of bike builders LA Cycles
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 23, 2002
Words:468
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