OXFORD Cheetahs are itching to go racing after trying out their new home for the first time yesterday.

Cheetahs and Oxford Chargers riders took to the Oxford Stadium track for pre-season practice, ending a 15-year wait to see speedway bikes in action at Sandy Lane.

The Cowley site has undergone a major revamp since the sport’s return to the city was announced last November, with fans set to get their first taste in less than a fortnight.

Cheetahs take on Scunthorpe Scorpions in their first meeting of the SGB Championship season on Wednesday, April 13, with a sell-out crowd of 2,000 set to attend after fans snapped up the remaining tickets this morning. 

After testing out the track yesterday, Australian rider Troy Batchelor cannot wait to get going.

He said: “Once you get here and put the suits on things become a little bit more real.

“We’re all pumped to get going, everything looks really good and it’s a proper professional set-up.

“There’s a buzz around the town and hopefully the first meeting gets a good turnout.

“Everybody’s looking forward to it, it has been a long time coming.”

Batchelor is one of several top-level riders in the Cheetahs line-up, representing his country on 17 occasions in the Speedway World Cup and winning ten domestic trophies.

Oxford Mail: Oxford Cheetahs riders in action at the revamped Oxford Stadium Picture: Steve Edmunds

Oxford Cheetahs riders in action at the revamped Oxford Stadium Picture: Steve Edmunds

Seven-time British champion Scott Nicholls captains the team, while Cameron Heeps, Kyle Newman, Jack Thomas, Josh MacDonald and Dillon Ruml complete the squad, managed by three-time world champion Jason Crump.

American rider Ruml was one of the last names announced for 2022 following a successful first season in British speedway with Plymouth Gladiators.

“Jamie (Courtney, promoter) and the team have put a lot of effort into getting the stadium ready,” the 23-year-old said.

“I think the fans are going to be so happy with it, seeing the stadium and the track is going to be a big shock.

“I’m sure they won’t be disappointed. It’ll be cool for the riders and the fans.”

Ruml added: “I’m more eager than I’ve ever been to start the season.

“This club has a rich history in the sport, so it’s cool to be a part of the year it comes back.

“I hope we’ll do well for the fans and put on a show.”

Oxford Mail: The new pit garage at Oxford Stadium Picture: Steve Edmunds

The new pit garage at Oxford Stadium Picture: Steve Edmunds

Cheetahs were crowned British champions five times before they folded in 2007 and the class of 2022 are bullish about their chances in speedway’s second tier.

Ruml said: “If everybody keeps their heads down and stays focused we’ve got a really good team.

“I think we’re capable of winning it, but all the right things have to go our way.”

Batchelor added: “There’s nothing we can’t do.

“I don’t want to say we’re going to win it, but it’s in our hands.

“I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.”

Chargers begin their National Development League season at Berwick Bullets next Saturday, before facing the same team in their first home meeting on May 4.