WHILE the first two rounds of the Speedway Grand Prix series last weekend had Pirates charger Zane Keleher excited to watch the world’s best – he admitted it just made him even more desperate to get back on track.

The Rockhampton-born rider had been set for his British breakthrough at Wimborne Road this summer, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to cancel the 2020 British professional league season.

It is fair to say Keleher has done everything in his power to pursue his dream of racing professionally overseas.

After it became apparent he would not be able to turn a wheel competitively in the skull and crossbones – the former motocross rider examined other options across Europe.

But with a host of riders looking to earn their living in the likes of Sweden and Poland, Keleher remains in Fordingbridge, with a flight at present booked for next month to return down under.

Asked for an update on his situation, Keleher, who has been in the UK since March, told the Daily Echo: “As much as I love watching the speedway – we have watched way too much this year.

“I just want to go racing and race my bike.

“It’s great watching but get me back on the start line any day.

“After the UK season got cancelled there was heaps of speedway happening in Poland and Sweden.

“I thought ‘well I’m going to try to get my finger in there and get a contract’. I tried hard for that but, given the situation at the moment, there’s a lot of riders looking for jobs. It was quite tough and didn’t actually pay off.

“Once I realised that wasn’t going to be an option, I started looking for flights but there’s a bit of a problem at the moment.

“Basically, Australia is closed for anyone but Australian citizens – but the government have put in restrictions on how many people can come in each week.

“Each state can bring in a different amount of people each week. For my home state it’s 500 people.

“I managed to book the first available flight, which originally was October 1, but that’s since been cancelled and I’ve had to shuffle on to another flight.

“I actually have to go into New South Wales now, rather than into Queensland and, once I get home, I have to do two weeks’ quarantine in the city I land in. Then I can be free to move on back to my hometown.”

The past six months have been full of “setbacks” and “heartbreak” for the 27-year-old, who regularly speaks with his family on the countdown to returning home.

Further restrictions in Australia mean the wait to see his loved ones will be even longer.

Asked when his flight was booked for, Keleher replied: “At this stage it’s October 3 but I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes again.

“There’s not much more we can do.

“Once you land and get through customs, there’s security there waiting to pick you up.

“They pick you up and take you straight to the motel (to self isolate) – we have to pay for that ourselves, which is about £1,500.

“You are basically locked in isolation for two weeks. You have COVID tests at that time and at the end of it, if you’re negative, you can continue on.

“It’s going to be a true test when I have to do the 14 days isolation. To go back straight into a motel locked up by myself is going to be a challenge.”

He added: “I have a really great family. They are really supportive and back me with everything I do.

“I know they are missing me a lot. I talk to them every couple of days and this is the longest I have been away from home really.

“It’s hard for everyone. For them too, they know I am not chasing my dream and not doing what I came over here for.

“They kind of feel the heartbreak as well.”

Still determined to make his dream a reality, Keleher, who previously worked as an engineer before moving into full-time speedway, is already looking ahead to 2021.

“I’ve sort of transitioned my training and stuff into preparing for next year,” he added, when asked what he was doing to occupy his mind away from racing.

“Now the gyms are back open, I’ve been smashing the gym six days a week.

“I’m still getting out on the weekends mountain biking.

“I’m doing some running around Poole and Bournemouth along the beach. I am training, as well as doing some things off track.”

He added: “That’s one of the biggest things I have noticed this year.

“All of the setbacks, heartbreak and everything – it’s definitely been one of the biggest learning years for myself.

“The whole experience of moving to a different country, being away from your family and friends and living in a different country with a different lifestyle – everything has been a huge learning experience personally.”