POLISH star Shamek Pawlicki insists he is primed for top billing at Poole Pirates if required – despite Darcy Ward’s apparent invincibility.
The Wimborne Road heat leader has impressed since returning to Dorset and outscored Pirates’ stand-in number ones in five of the eight meetings captain Ward missed through injury.
With 113 points and 25 heat wins under his belt, the 22-year-old Grand Prix hopeful has taken more chequered flags and Elite League points than any of his colleagues in 2014.
Ward is now back racing despite an anterior cruciate ligament injury which requires surgery, with Poole’s talisman showing few ill effects following a return to the fold last month.
But with Chris Holder, who stood in during Ward’s absence, currently nursing a broken wrist and unavailable due to commitments on the continent, Pawlicki is adamant promoter Matt Ford need look no further for an insurance policy if he requires cover for Pirates’ top team slot.
Pawlicki told the Daily Echo: “I don’t think it will be a problem. Darcy is a very good rider who maybe didn’t have a lucky start to the season but he is racing again and everything is looking good for him.
“He is racing his best even though he is hurt but if things are tough for him and the team needs me then, yes, I am ready. I don’t care where I race in the team, I just want to score a lot of points and I think I can do that.
“I don’t think about being top points scorer but everything is good for me and I am happy. I like it here, I am young but I am learning good lessons all the time and I think I can do good things against the best riders.
“We have a good team, but a young team. Maybe we need to put a little bit more work in but we are all good riders and we have a chance to win (the Elite League). I think we have a good chance to go to the final.
“The fans are great and I promise to do everything to help Poole go up the Elite League.”
Pawlicki and compatriot Maciej Janowski return to a full-strength line-up for Pirates’ home clash with Birmingham Brummies tonight (7.30pm).
The Poles missed Friday’s narrow 47-43 defeat at Coventry ahead of their qualification for the Grand Prix Challenge 24 hours later.
Birmingham’s Daniel Nermark, injured during his guest appearance for Poole five days ago, will be replaced by Scunthorpe’s Josh Auty, while the visitors' Polish prospect Bartosz Zmarzlik is set to leave the club after pulling out through illness.
Pirates: (from) Darcy Ward, Vaclav Milik, Shamek Pawlicki, Josh Grajczonek, Maciej Janowski, Ben Hopwood, Kyle Newman.
Brummies: (from) Rider replacement for Bartosz Zmarzlik, Josh Auty (guest), Danny King, Nico Covatti, Ben Barker, Simon Lambert, Paul Starke.