Plucky rider Ritchie keeps bouncing back
IF anyone deserves a break in speedway, it’s Ritchie Hawkins.
The Yaxley ace has had so many bad ones he could have been forgiven for thinking he was cursed. Just when doors are opening for him, they are normally slammed shut in the shape of serious injury.
The 2004 British Under 21 champion has spent more time in plaster and bandages than a mummy but every time he gets knocked down, he’s back up again.
“I’ve suffered so many bad breaks that I have pain for breakfast,” jokes a rider who has broken just about every major bone and damaged every limb in his body. “I’ve never done anything to my back though, so touch wood I’ll avoid that.
“Oh, and I don’t think I’ve broken my elbows either!”
The glass is always half-full where the Yaxley-based racer (who is back in the area after a few years based in Dorset) is concerned. And now he is getting his rewards.
A hectic diary, a fine start to the season for Premier League club Somerset and plenty of top-flight outings in the Elite League (both as Ipswich’s number eight and a guest for other clubs) all means he is back on the map.
The son of Panthers legend Kevin Hawkins admits there have been times when he has thought about turning his back on speedway, but he always finds his way back to the shale.
He added: “I did think about giving up a few times but I couldn’t think of another job I wanted to do.
“And I’m glad I kept on riding because things are going pretty well now and I’m enjoying my racing more than I have done in years.
“I’ve had to work so hard just to get back on a bike after my many injuries that I’m appreciating it more. The wrist I have smashed to bits twice is still giving me grief and I’ve got to go and see a specialist in a couple of weeks, but other than that I’m happy.
“I feel as though I am back at the level I was at in 2006 before all my injury problems held me back. I’m averaging over seven in the Premier League including bonus points and getting my confidence back.
“I’ve done close to 30 meetings in the last couple of months which means there have been a lot of paycheques coming in, but I’m pumping every penny I can into my equipment to try and improve.
“I’ve got a workshop at home and another one down in Swindon which is ideal for riding at Somerset. I’ve even had to take a mechanic on because I’ve been so busy.”
Hawkins, who had a brief spell as a Panthers rider in 2005 only to be harshly axed, showed he is no back number with a decent display for Ipswich at the Showground on Monday night. He notched 4+2 for the Witches as they went down 5039 despite leading at one stage.
Hawkins is certainly among friends at the Suffolk club. The Witches are skippered by his best mate Danny King (whose spare room has become a second home to Hawkins) and he has also known Oliver Allen (another son of a Panthers great) for years.
“Danny fixed it up for me to go to Ipswich and I’m loving it,” continued Hawkins. “I’ve had five meetings for them now and have done okay. The people there are great and Chris Louis has been a real help - he is even doing me an engine.
“It went well at Peterborough the other night and it was good to help the team get a 5-1 in one of my races. I’ve had a few other guest bookings in the Elite League as well and it is nice to get those chances.”
THE WRONG TYPE OF BREAKS: For city-based rider Ritchie Hawkins.