SPEEDWAY News and Fixtures

(SPEEDWAY 1)

BIRMINGHAM boss Graham Drury is hoping the return of No.1 Bjarne Pedersen will help his side get off to a strong start in the Elite League.The Brummies lost their Midland League fixtures to Wolverhampton and Coventry when Pedersen was absent due to the New Zealand Grand Prix, but the Dane is back for the Easter clashes with Swindon.Drury said: “Bjarne definitely has a presence about him so we’ve been missing not only what he can do on the track but also in the pits. Using rider-replacement for him for two of those matches has been tough and I’m sure we would have got more points if he’d been here.“It’s not an easy start either in the Elite League, because Swindon do look strong – but I don’t think there are going to be any easy matches this year.”

(SPEEDWAY 2)

SCUNTHORPE have added Gary Irving and Richard Franklin to their eight-man National League squad ahead of their opener against King’s Lynn on Easter Monday.Irving replaces Jason King who now has a team place in the Premier League with Berwick, whilst club asset Franklin comes in as cover for Max Clegg who is not 15 until next Wednesday.Saints boss Stuart Parnaby said: “We suspected it was only a matter of time before Jason went Premier League, so I had already been speaking to Gary. We’re grateful to Workington for their help in allowing Gary to join the Saints and I’m sure it will be beneficial to both clubs.“Monday is a great opportunity for Richard to show the speedway world what he is capable of. There are highly likely to be other opportunities for Richard to ride for the Saints. Alternatively, another club may be able to offer him a permanent place.”

(SPEEDWAY 3)

BUXTON have made a late change after receiving the news that Ben Taylor will be unable to start the season for financial reasons.The Hitmen have therefore moved to sign Luke Priest, who has been declared fit to race after undergoing a bone graft operation in November on an ankle he injured at work.Priest said: “I looked certain to miss the start of the season but a visit to Stoke hospital revealed good news and a green light to return to the track. I had a challenge meeting at Plymouth last Friday and it proved a successful return. “The opportunity to return to Buxton came late but I’m thrilled to be back for 2012. I have had a season here already and look to improve my consistency this year.”

(SPEEDWAY 4)

MILDENHALL manager Rob Henry says his team will be driven on this season by the memory of just missing out on the National League title in 2011.The Fen Tigers were edged out by Scunthorpe/Sheffield in a thrilling finale and commence their new campaign with a National Shield encounter with Dudley on Sunday.Henry said: “The boys did brilliantly to win the Cup but I am still hurting about missing the double by one point - not even a league point, but a match point! I am confident though that this year's team are up for the challenge. “Cameron Heeps could easily be the top rider in the NL and I've no doubt that making Lewis (Blackbird) captain was a great move and, as well as leading from the front, he will be a great support to me in the pits.”

(FIXTURES)

THURSDAY APRIL 5:SKY SPORTS ELITE LEAGUE: Swindon v Birmingham 7.30LEAGUE CUP: Sheffield v Redcar 7.45

FRIDAY APRIL 6:SKY SPORTS ELITE LEAGUE: Belle Vue v Wolverhampton 1pm, Birmingham v Swindon 7.30, Coventry v Poole 11am, Eastbourne v Lakeside 7.30, King’s Lynn v Peterborough 7pm, Lakeside v Eastbourne 1pm, Peterborough v King’s Lynn 2pm, Poole v Coventry 8pmLEAGUE CUP: Edinburgh v Newcastle 7.30, Ipswich v Leicester 2.30, Redcar v Sheffield 7.30, Somerset v Rye House 7.30NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP 1st leg: Rye House v Isle of Wight 7pm

SATURDAY APRIL 7:LEAGUE CUP: Berwick v Glasgow 7pm, Leicester v Rye House 7.30, Workington v Edinburgh 7pmBRITISH U21 SEMI-FINAL: Stoke 7.30

SUNDAY APRIL 8:LEAGUE CUP: Glasgow v Berwick 4pm, Newcastle v Scunthorpe 6.30NATIONAL SHIELD 1st leg: Mildenhall v Dudley 4.30