NEW Robins rider Darryl Ritchings believes the laps he got under his belt at yesterday’s press and practice session will prove vital when the new season gets underway.

Unlike last year, the rain stayed away and allowed the new Robins septet to gain valuable track time, with reserves Ritchings and Steve Worrall taking full advantage as they stayed on track the longest alongside new top five member Simon Gustafsson.

In contrast, Peter Kildemand and Troy Batchelor, who both have spent the last two seasons at Blunsdon, spent comparatively little time on the Abbey Stadium circuit while Australian Nick Morris twice ended up in the fence as he tested his machinery to the max.

For Purton’s Ritchings, though, the day was a worthwhile exercise which has only served to heighten his enthusiasm ahead of the season opening Elite Shield clash with Poole on Thursday.

“It was really good to get some laps in and, although the track was a little patchy because it hasn’t been ridden on for so long, once I had done a few laps I settled down a bit it felt really good,” he said.

“These laps will be really important because it’s only the fourth time I’ve been back on a bike since my injury and it all really helps. Track time is all really important but it will be a different to be out there against three other riders.

“I’ve ridden here loads of times but today felt different and it was good to be on a bike. It will be really different to be lining up at the start line as a Robins rider next week but I can’t wait.”

Yesterday was also the first opportunity for the new Robins riders to be together as a group, and Ritchings believes the new team will quickly bond.

“It was awesome to all be together , mixing in the pits and getting out on the track, and the team spirit seems really good,” he said.

“I’ve known Stevie (Worrall) and Nicolai (Klindt) is really easy to talk to, as are all the guys, so it’s definitely going to be a really good year for us.”

An impressive number of Robins fans turned out to watch the riders practice and remained in the Blunsdon bar for a question and answer season with the team, which delighted team manager and promoter Alun Rossiter.

“It’s good to get the guys on the track to start with as the weather stopped us last year, and it was good to see so many fans there,” he said.

“It makes us look forward to the season even more and I know we are going to have a good year this season. They’re a young group but I really don’t think that is going to be a problem.”