HARRIS CHASING RIDERS TITLE
CHRIS HARRIS wants to end his UK league riders’ individual event jinx and boost his bid for Team GB and the Grand Prix series.
The ex-British GP winner goes into tonight’s Championship Riders’ title at Glasgow (Ashfield, 7pm) as one of the favourites for top spot.
But Harris, 34, has revealed his desire to get back into the elite of the sport at the GPs and continue to be in Alun Rossiter’s Team GB squad.
He admitted: “I’m an old timer now. These meetings are always tough, the best riders in the league and a great one to be involved in.
“I’ve really never been that good at this level for some reason which I can’t explain. I have been second and third in the Elite League version but not won a riders’ championship before.
“Glasgow’s a track I enjoy. I’ve had good results there. From 2003 to last couple of years the improvement is just great. When I was there years ago the grandstand was falling down. But the owners have done a remarkable job.
“It’s a great stadium to go to now and one I really enjoy going to. It’s quite narrow but it’s a nice shape, I’ve always enjoyed that side of it. It seems to suit the way I ride really.
“It will be hard. I’ve really enjoyed it racing in the Championship. People said it would be a step backwards but when you look at the riders like Danny King, Craig Cook, Stevie and Richie Worrall and Sam Masters you’ve got good riders, so it isn’t easy.”
The experienced Peterborough star dropped out of the GPs for the first time after a decade this season. Now he believes he can force his way back into the Team GB reckoning and GP series next year.
He added: “I was disappointed to miss out last year on being in Team GB in the World Cup final at Belle Vue. So to get back in was great. I worked hard to get back in Rosco’s plans and I also want to get back in the Grand Prix series.
“I still feel I can have some fun in there and race at that level. People might not think I can but I believe I can. While I believe that I will keep going.
“I’ve missed the racing and the atmosphere of the Grand Prix. Even when you are at the back, I still miss being part of it. I don’t miss the travelling and the expense that comes with it. Being in the GPs is a great experience and want to be part of it again.”
Harris also revealed he has given new GP star Craig Cook a few bits of advice prior to his debut next season.
He added: “Craig and I have talked a fair bit when we’ve seen each other at meetings. He’s asked me about the GP series and I’ve told him he needs a big bank balance!
“You need that, you do need to throw a lot of money at it to compete with the best. He just needs to relax and enjoy in his first year, don’t overcomplicate it. If he just does what he’s been doing at Belle Vue and Workington all year it will stand him in good stead.
“He’s a good gater, he’s got that on his side. I was never the best of gater so had to do it from the back but it’s so hard at that level, they are all world class riders. You can’t pass them as easily as in the UK leagues.”
GLASGOW co-promoter Stewart Dickson says tonight’s (Saturday) SGB Championship Riders’ Individual at Ashfield is a huge occasion for speedway in the area.
The Tigers finally get the chance to stage the high-profile meeting with several top riders from the league competing, after rain foiled their efforts last month.
Dickson said: “It is nice to have this coming to Glasgow. This is a shared BSPA event – the money gets spread throughout the clubs.
“Scotland has got a chance to put on this event, so we need fans from all over Britain to come and see this.
“If we don’t get a decent crowd, Scotland might not get another one of these events for a long time – so we need the northern fans especially to come out and back their riders.
“It’s a big chance for Scotland and the northern clubs to show that we deserve more of these events.”
NEWCASTLE promoter George English is backing Steve Worrall’s bid for SGB Championship Individual glory at Glasgow tonight.
The Diamonds are represented in the Ashfield showpiece event by Worrall and Stuart Robson, and English believes Worrall in particular is well-placed to round off a fine season in style.
He said: “It’s a big night for our two up at Glasgow tonight and to be fair, they both have a chance of getting into the Final.
“Steve in particular has publicly stated he is totally focussed and driven when it comes to lifting this trophy as he desperately wants to win.
“He believes this is the next big step in progressing his career which has sky-rocketed this season after his fine World Cup rides, but this is his current big ambition, and he is out to make sure no-one gets in his way.
“His brother Richie is in the field representing the home side, and that again is a massive push for Steve to get one over his sibling as their on-track rivalry is pretty intense at times - while Stuart has masses of experience to call on and cannot be discounted by any means.”
IPSWICH gained some consolation for their SGB Championship Grand Final defeat to Sheffield by dumping the Tigers out of the KO Cup at Foxhall on Friday.
The Witches progressed to a Final clash with either Peterborough or Glasgow courtesy of a 55-35 second leg win, overturning a 12-point first leg deficit to go through by eight overall.
In-form reserve Nathan Greaves was a hero for the hosts with 13+2 from six rides and was one of four double-figure scorers along with skipper Danny King (12+2), guest Ty Proctor (11+1) and Cameron Heeps – who picked up 12 and dropped his only points in a second-ride crash.
Guest Scott Nicholls collected 13 from six rides for the Tigers and Josh Bates added nine, but their hopes of a league and cup double were ended in Suffolk.
Ipswich team boss Ritchie Hawkins said: “It was a brilliant performance and we carried on doing what we have been doing all year.
“We were fighting hard and the guests were superb and so were the four remaining Witches, so I am really happy.
“We feel that we have worked so hard and had such a great year that we want a trophy to show for it at the end. Tonight was another step along the way and we were much closer to a perfect performance tonight than we were in the final as we cut out a lot of the mistakes.”
PETERBOROUGH wrapped up their SGB Championship campaign with a seventh straight victory as they overcame Edinburgh 54-38 on Friday.
The Panthers took early control with 5-1s in the first two races at the East of England Arena and proceeded to a comfortable win, moving them back into the top half of the table.
Skipper Ulrich Ostergaard led the way with 12 points whilst there were also major contributions from reserve Simon Lambert (11+3), Jack Holder (11) and Chris Harris (10). Sam Masters (11+1) and Erik Riss (11) both hit double-figures for the Monarchs.
Peterborough team boss Carl Johnston said: “A team doesn’t reel off seven wins at any level of any sport by fluke.
“The boys have been terrific in recent weeks and they have showed their determination to pick up results for the fans even though we knew the play-offs were beyond us.
“We expected a tough test against Edinburgh and we performed superbly despite having a couple of riders missing.
“We still want to finish as high as we possibly can and this win lifts us up to fifth in the table. It also sets us up really nicely for the KO Cup semi-final and the challenge of winning another piece of silverware.”
Edinburgh boss John Campbell said: “Peterborough had prepared the track with plenty of dirt which normally means exciting racing with riders using the outside line. But the only heat in which any of our riders did that was a fine ride by Erik Riss in heat 13.
“Other than that, nothing happened – it was all from the gate. Sam Masters did OK but wasn’t at his best, and Mark Riss started well but after he crashed in heat 7 he wasn’t the same rider. We just were not good enough.”
ASHLEY Morris emerged victorious in the Colin Hill Memorial meeting at Plymouth on Friday.
Morris led the way in the qualifying races as the event paid tribute to the former Exeter promoter, and then got the better of Ben Morley, Ben Hopwood and Ben Wilson as the four top scorers clashed in the Final.
EASTBOURNE are hoping for a case of third time lucky when they launch the National League Grand Final against Belle Vue tonight (Saturday).
The Eagles, who have been runners-up in the last two seasons, host the Colts at Arlington and will be looking to build an advantage to take to Manchester next week.
Home star Jake Knight returns after a recent suspension, whilst rider-replacement is in operation for the unavailable Charley Powell. Drew Kemp again stands in at reserve.
Eastbourne boss Connor Dugard said: “We are expecting a great night of speedway on Saturday and we hope the crowd really get behind the lads to create a brilliant atmosphere.
“The whole team is up for it and hopefully we can go one better than last year. Obviously, we want to build a lead to take into the second leg and that’s what we will be working to do.”
The Colts have their regular side in action with the exception of long-term absentee Lee Payne, and co-boss Graham Goodwin admits that return to near full-strength is a major boost to their hopes.
He said: “On our last visit to Arlington we were heavily reliant on guests whereas this time we’re as near to full strength as possible which the lads are more than happy with and they’re looking forward to it,
“It’s a very different track to Belle Vue so we can expect two very different and challenging halves to this Final. Realistically we want to be coming away having kept things as close as possible.
“Eastbourne are very powerful on their home track just as we are on ours and I have faith in this team that anything that gets thrown their way, they will return with equal vigour in the second leg.”
SATURDAY OCTOBER 14:
SGB CHAMPIONSHIP RIDERS’ INDIVIDUAL: Glasgow 7pm
NATIONAL LEAGUE GRAND FINAL 1st leg: Eastbourne v Belle Vue 7.30
SUNDAY OCTOBER 15:
SGB CHAMPIONSHIP: Newcastle v Sheffield 6.30
CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP S/F 1st leg: Peterborough v Glasgow 5pm
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Buxton v Plymouth 3pm
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP S/F: Mildenhall v Belle Vue 3pm
MONDAY OCTOBER 16:
PREMIERSHIP KO CUP FINAL 2nd leg: Belle Vue v Wolverhampton 7.30
PROMOTION/RELEGATION RACE-OFF 2nd leg: Leicester v Sheffield 7.30
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Cradley v Eastbourne 7.30
Results Friday October 13, 2017
Peterborough 54 (Ulrich Ostergaard 12)
Edinburgh 38 (Sam Masters 11+1)
SGB Championship points: Peterborough 3 Edinburgh 0
CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP SEMI-FINAL 2nd leg
Ipswich 55 (Nathan Greaves 13+2)
Sheffield 35 (Scott Nicholls 13)
Ipswich win 94-86 on aggregate.
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP SEMI-FINAL 1st leg
Belle Vue v Mildenhall - OFF
Re-arranged date: Friday October 20, 7.30pm
COLIN HILL MEMORIAL, Plymouth
1 Ashley Morris (Newcastle)
2 Ben Morley (Rye House/Lakeside)
3 Ben Hopwood (Newcastle/Kent)
4 Ben Wilson (Isle of Wight)