Arena-Essex Speedway today followed up on their announcement on Monday of the signing of Grzegorz Walasek with news of another signing for the 2004 season. This time they have named the rider who will represent the Club as their No.8.

Under the new regulations for the Sky Sports Elite League in 2004 all Elite League clubs are required to sign two additional riders (Nos. 8 & 9) who can be used to cover mainly for missing reserves although they can be used instead of utilising the "Rider Replacement" facility for any other absent member of the team if the Team Manager so chooses. These two additional riders are required to appear in the nominated 1-7 of a Premier League club.

The A F Stocktaking Hammers Promoter, Ronnie Russell, has chosen 35 year old Ray Morton to become the No.8 for the Club and the required formalities have now been completed. Morton, who was born in Peckham, has been a popular visitor to the Purfleet Raceway over many seasons and Mr. Russell believes that he is the ideal person to cover this vital role for the Hammers. He is a member of the Isle of Wight Premier League side having first ridden for them in 1998.

Then, after a year at Hull he returned to the Islanders in 2000 where he has ridden ever since. However, he started his Speedway career back in 1985 when he rode for King's Lynn staying with the Norfolk club until part way through the 1989 season when he moved on to Wimbledon. He subsequently had spells with Reading and Poole before moving to the Isle of Wight.

The last time he rode at Purfleet was in the opening meeting of the 2003 season when, as captain of the Islanders, he scored 10 points, which included two heat victories. However, he missed the final months of last season due to injury although he has now fully recovered and is looking forward to riding for the Hammers when the opportunity arises.

This latest signing means that only two further rides are required to complete the Hammers team for the forthcoming season, although one of these will be No. 9, and like, Morton, will only ride for the Club on occasions when one of the main team is unavailable.

The Hammers side is now taking shape nicely and there are high hopes that they will have a successful season in the top flight of Speedway in this Country.



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