Last Thursday - at precisely 2pm - a rider by the name of Jimmy Jansson had the honour of riding the first laps around Wimbledon Stadium for some eleven years.

The 21-year old Swede, son of ex-Dons rider Bo and nephew of the late great Tommy, made a surprise guest appearance at the 2002 Wimbledon Speedway Press and Practice Day.

A crowd of several hundred supporters saw the majority of the 2002 Wimbledon Dons obtain some much needed practice on the lengthened circuit, which bears a marked resemblance to the classic shape used until the mid-sixties.

In front of the cameras from BBC London, Mark 'The Undertaker' Phillips soon proved what an entertainer he is with some breathtaking action and also fully tested the performance of the new safety fence. Martin Williams also impressed the crowd with his steady control on the slick surface and is already something of a cult hero for the Dons fans.

Despite the ever present threat of showers, the practice session passed off without incident and, more importantly, the Dons management successfully demonstrated to all and sundry their ability to construct a speedway track within time constraints.

Co-promoter David Croucher paid a warm tribute to his colleague Steve Ribbons who is responsible for track preparation throughout the season.

"Steve has done a fantastic job to construct a safety fence and lay down a shale surface within the time framework laid down by our landlords," he said, "His commitment and desire to succeed has been a constant source of encouragement when times have been hard, and now the season is upon us we can all see his ability at constructing a great circuit for speedway racing.

"I would also like to thank our team of volunteers who have all put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to get us to this position."

With Ronnie Moore due to fly into Heathrow Airport this week - and be met by a large band of Dons supporters - the opening night on 2 May is drawing closer and closer. Moore will be guest of honour and will ride his first laps of Plough Lane since 1974 before the track action commences at 1945hrs.

A large crowd is anticipated to see the opening night challenge between arguably the two greatest clubs in British speedway, Wimbledon and Belle Vue. The Colts will be led by Premier League riders Lee Smethills and Aidan Collins and are sure to provide a stern test for the Dons.