BRITISH Speedway is gearing up for its busiest day of the season on Good Friday – with thirteen fixtures taking place across all levels of the sport.
All ten Elite League clubs are in action, six of them racing in both home and away fixtures, as the race for the play-offs begins in earnest with several star names returning from the New Zealand Grand Prix to line-up for their domestic clubs.Last year’s defeated Finalists Eastbourne have kicked off with two straight home wins to top the early table, but go into a double clash with Lakeside using rider-replacement for No.1 Joonas Kylmakorpi – and the Hammers, who stage the first meeting at 1pm before the Arlington encounter at 7.30pm, racked up 61 points against Belle Vue last week.Lakeside co-promoter Jon Cook said: “The Easter afternoon meeting is one of the real highlights of the year and with a mouth watering fixture, with the chance for the fans to see new signings Peter Karlsson and Davey Watt in action, it promises to be a great time to take in the action. Kids admission is reduced to just a pound for all aged 16 and under and we will open the turnstiles at 11am.”Meanwhile reigning champions Poole have the earliest start of all with an 11am match at Coventry, with the two sides also meeting at Wimborne Road at 8pm.
Both clubs welcome back their captains, Chris Holder for the Pirates and Chris Harris for the Bees, and go into the clashes having enjoyed strong results in their warm-up fixtures.
East Anglian neighbours Peterborough and King’s Lynn also go head-to-head twice, starting at the Showground at 2pm and moving to the Norfolk Arena at 7pm.
There are some significant connections between the clubs as the Panthers’ Kenneth Bjerre, Olly Allen and Lasse Bjerre all rode for the Stars last season – and King’s Lynn themselves include ex-Panthers Niels-Kristian Iversen, Mads Korneliussen and David Howe.Panthers co-boss Jan Staechmann said: “We want to start the Elite League season as well as we can, so we have to be going for home and away wins if we can manage it. Given what I’ve seen so far, I’m encouraged and hopefully we’ll have some good points on the board at the end of the evening.”
Belle Vue hand a debut to Polish newcomer Marcel Kajzer for their 1pm clash with Wolverhampton at Kirkmanshulme Lane, with fellow countryman Adam Skornicki starting a second spell with the club as the Aces cover for the absence of Patrick Hougaard and Travis McGowan.Skornicki has joined the Aces on loan from Wolves, who welcome back GP man Freddie Lindgren to team up with in-form Tai Woffinden at the top of the order.
The other Elite League match features Birmingham and Swindon, who meet at Blunsdon on Thursday and then race the return fixture at Perry Barr on Friday (7.30pm). The meetings mark Alun Rossiter’s first official matches back in charge of the Robins, whilst Brummies boss Graham Drury is hoping the return of Danish ace Bjarne Pedersen will kick-start their season.
At Premier League level, a big day of League Cup action commences with the 2.30pm clash between Ipswich and Leicester, as the Lions’ Lasse Bjerre returns to Foxhall, whilst Somerset will have skipper Jason Doyle back for their home clash with Rye House (7.30pm).Redcar and Sheffield race the return of their Thursday night meeting with Matej Kus back from injury for the Bears (7.30pm), whilst Edinburgh hope to have reserve Charles Wright fit after two heavy crashes last weekend for their home fixture against Newcastle. (7.30pm).
Meanwhile the National League KO Cup clash between Rye House and the Isle of Wight (7pm) marks the return of the Raiders name to Hoddesdon following last year’s joint Hackney venture between Rye House and Lakeside.