SPEEDWAY News

(SPEEDWAY 1)

BERWICK have completed the shock signing of Ricky Ashworth – after the former Premier League Riders’ Champion’s switch to Plymouth fell through.The Bandits were alerted to Ashworth’s failure to agree terms with the Devils and moved quickly to bring the Sheffield asset to Shielfield Park as a replacement for the injured Kozza Smith.Manager Ian Rae said: “When Sheffield got in touch on Sunday to say that Ricky was not going to Plymouth I obviously questioned the validity but was assured it was true. A rider of Ricky's ability is too good to overlook bearing in mind our current circumstances and we commenced negotiations on Monday.“Whatever the problem was in Devon – and that would be none of our business – I can state that Ricky was very understanding of our situation and of our budgets, and we had no trouble in coming to terms.”Sheffield co-promoter David Hoggart added: “When Ricky called me on Sunday to say he had failed to agree terms with Plymouth and had declined their offer of a team place for 2012, I had to think on my feet. I had already tried several clubs when we were unable to accommodate him this year and I didn't want to see the lad out of work.”

(SPEEDWAY 2)

FORMER Peterborough skipper Nicki Pedersen is to make a surprise return to the Showground for the club’s opening meeting of the season.Pedersen has joined up with Panthers legend Ryan Sullivan and World Champion Greg Hancock in the opposition ranks for the March 19 meeting, as he steps up his preparations for the start of the Grand Prix series.He said: “I've chosen to do as many meetings as possible in the UK before the first GP, so I can test my equipment and myself as much possible and to see where we are in terms of being ready before we go to New Zealand.“It's also good to get back to Peterborough because it's a big and fast track, in order to get the physical sensation and technique of racing a fast track into your body, in preparation for the big 415m Western Springs track in New Zealand.”

(SPEEDWAY 3)

WOLVERHAMPTON star Freddie Lindgren has joined Nicki Pedersen in the line-up for his ex-team mate Magnus Karlsson’s Testimonial at Leicester.It will be Lindgren’s first appearance at Beaumont Park as the Lions start the new season on March 17 with the meeting to celebrate Karlsson’s ten years in British Speedway.Lindgren, who rode alongside Karlsson at Wolves, said: “I’ve known Magnus for quite a bit now, he’s a great guy and I hope he has a good meeting.“He’s done well, it was hard for him to follow his brothers who were such great riders but he has done well. I was honoured to get the call to ride in his meeting.”

(SPEEDWAY 4)

RYE House boss John Sampford expects Australian teenager Tyson Nelson to make significant strides in his second season of Premier League racing.Sampford is targeting a heat-leader berth for Nelson, who has invested heavily in new equipment and has also landed a doubling-up berth with Elite League Birmingham.He recovered from mechanical problems to post a string of double-figure scores in the closing stages of last season, and the Rockets are hopeful that he can build on that form.Sampford said: “If Nelson lives up to our expectations then the whole team will take on a much more powerful look and, judging from his financial outlay, the boy certainly intends that to happen.”(SPEEDWAY 5)

DUDLEY and Mildenhall have confirmed dates for the National Shield as they prepare to contest the third tier’s first major silverware of the season.The Fen Tigers, who lifted the KO Cup in 2011, will host the first leg on Easter Sunday (April 8) with the return against the Heathens, who are the current Shield holders, at Monmore Green on April 17.Mildenhall co-promoter Michael Lee said: “It'll be great to welcome the Heathens back to West Row as, of course, they were the first visitors last season as we launched the 'new era' of Mildenhall Speedway. That turned into a day never to be forgotten, and I am sure everyone can still remember our then skipper James Brundle clinching the win for us in a brilliant final heat.”Dudley also face local rivals Stoke in the Staffordshire Cup before the league commences, and boss Will Pottinger said: “In my book both Stoke and Mildenhall are up there as the strongest teams on paper. That means we are in for a really tough start and it will be a thorough examination of our team credentials.”