Slovakian sensation Martin Vaculik has paid tribute to Sheffield icon Simon Stead for the part he played in his return to Grand Prix racing last year.
Vaculik will race at Owlerton on Sunday in Stead’s farewell meeting and is one of the headline attractions.
Widely regarded as a world champion in the making, Vaculik made it back to the top table of the sport 12-months ago with Tigers’ legend Stead at the helm of his background team.
“It was important coming back into the Grand Prix to have the right people around me,” said Vaculik. “To have someone like Simon in the pits was vital. He has experience of the machinery, the tracks and programme. It is vital to have an extra help with all these things on a Grand Prix night.
“We have a good relationship going back a few years from when we raced against each other. He is a good guy. We have lots of things to talk about in the hotel, not just speedway. He is a very good mate.
“Towards the end of last season we made a decision for me to do things on my own in the Grand Prix, he was busy too. But it was a good relationship.
“That’s why I am happy we will team up again at Leicester this season. I spoke to lots of people and there was a feeling that this track will help my racing style, it would be good for my career.
“We have a good team and I’m delighted Simon will be there too.
“All the tracks in England are very different to Europe, this will be important for my racing and to gain extra experience.”
Current world champion Jason Doyle is included in the meeting along with 2012 champ Chris Holder.
And Vaculik said: “It’s a great line-up but it’s also an opportunity for us all to get back into zone for the season ahead.
“I’m sure there will be some fast and exciting action and I’m looking forward to visiting Sheffield before making my Leicester debut the following night.”
Stead’s meeting starts at 4pm on Sunday.
Gates open at 2pm and the event features 16 riders over 22 heats, plus some junior racing.