Speedway: Peterborough tip 'outsiders' Eastbourne

Peter Oakes

Oakes will welcome Coventry to Peterborough in their first fixture

Peterborough Panthers director of speedway Peter Oakes has tipped Eastbourne Eagles to be this year's surprise package.

The Eagles have been impressive in the early stages of the 2011 Elite League after struggling last term.

"Eastbourne have turned it around," Oakes told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

"Poole will be strong, so will Coventry, but keep an eye on Eastbourne, they're outsiders but I wouldn't mind a penny or two on them."

Eastbourne finished last season down in seventh but have been flying this year with four wins out of four.

Coventry Bees claimed the 2010 title  after a late surge to the play-offs and Oakes is keen for his new-look side to learn from the Bees' success.

There will obviously be things that will happen throughout the season where we have the odd fall out

Peter Oakes Peterborough director of speedway

"I think something Coventry had in spades last year was team spirit and I think that's something we've got to engender at Peterborough," he said.

"That does make an enormous difference, if a team will ride for each other and trust each other they can turn those narrow defeats into wins."

The Panthers and Bees were reinstated to the Elite League  last week after a winter of confrontation with the sport's governing body.

But Oakes suggested there may still be issues to iron out with the British Speedway Promoters' Association as the campaign progresses.

"There will obviously be things that will happen throughout the season where we have the odd fall out," he added.

"But it's fantastic for speedway we've now got 10 teams in the Elite League."

Peterborough get their league calendar underway when they host Coventry on Friday, 22 April.