SCUNTHORPE have appointed Steve Worrall as their new captain – and promoter Rob Godfrey has hailed the GB star as the best rider in the SGB Championship.
Worrall signed up for a heavily revised Scorpions team earlier in the winter on a 9.13 average after a 2017 season with Newcastle which also saw him finish runner-up in the British Final.
Godfrey said: “Steve was the obvious choice when it came to selecting our skipper for the season ahead. The averages don’t lie – he is the best rider in this league.
“He’s at the top of his game. He’ll be out in Heat 1, and then he’ll be able to talk to the other riders.
“When we were after Steve for this season, he was keen to return to ride for Scunthorpe, but wanted to be part of a successful side. He was the catalyst for us putting together the team that we have. I’m sure he will lead from the front and be an excellent captain.”
SIMON Stead’s Farewell meeting will feature another Grand Prix rider after Slovakian star Martin Vaculik agreed to race.
Stead last week confirmed the appearance of World Champion Jason Doyle, who is now joined by the man who won the opening round of the GP series in Slovenia last year.
Stead said: “It’s going to be a big day and the two boys in the line-up so far will make sure it’s a great show.
“I’ve had a great time as a rider and I want to celebrate my career in style, I’ve got more riders lined up and we will be announcing them over the next few days.
“It’s an exciting time for me as not only am I at Sheffield but I’m with Leicester too so it will be busy and with the farewell meeting on top of that it’s a busy time.
“I want to thank Martin and Jason for agreeing to make my day that bit extra special.”
BELLE Vue’s Andy Mellish has confirmed he won’t be fit to start the new National League season.
Mellish suffered a badly broken foot in the first leg of the Colts’ Grand Final at Eastbourne last October, and the injury will now leave him playing a supporting role when they commence their title defence.
He said: “I can’t emphasise enough how fantastic the Belle Vue management have been throughout this whole thing, and they have made it clear that the door will always be open for me to return.
“Unfortunately, that return will not coincide with the start of the season primarily because of my ongoing recovery. It’s been a frustrating few months, with progress going slower than I’d like.
“I’m absolutely determined to do what I can to help when the new season kicks off. I’m so pleased to see so many young lads in the team this year and if I can assist them in any way, I’d be delighted to.”
SWINDON boss Alun Rossiter has given their updated stadium plans a seal of approval.
Fresh proposals will see the new Abbey Stadium arena built on the same site as the existing circuit, with a shortening of the current track and construction of a new grandstand and safety fence.
Rossiter said: “I have to say it has always seemed the logical thing for me, to just redevelop the current site.
“It’s great news that they are going to push ahead with these plans, and after the time we’ve been waiting we’re excited to see things start.
“I think there will be a lot of relief and excitement when we first see the diggers start working, and until then we’ll keep trying to be successful at the current stadium.”
IPSWICH newcomer Michael Haertel says he is looking forward to learning as much as possible in his first season in British Speedway.
The 20-year-old held discussions with Foxhall promoter Chris Louis and former Witches star Tobias Kroner about joining the club, and after completing his education last June decided the time is now right to head to the UK.
Haertel said: “Everybody I talked with told me Ipswich are usually good and all the guys there are nice and you have time to get used to everything. They work professionally, and you have the meetings.
“When you go to Poland, if you have one bad meeting you will be staying at home, so I hope it’s better in the UK. I just want to race as well as possible and score as many points as possible.
“I think it will take a bit of time to get used to it but I hope my team-mates who have experience of the track help me with the set-up and look at me at the first practice and tell me where I have to ride.”
LEE Payne will return to Belle Vue Colts for their defence of the National League title this season.
Payne was on the sidelines for much of the Colts’ triumphant 2017 campaign due to a shoulder injury but is now set for his comeback, with the team completed by fellow Wigan-based rider Paul Bowen who is seeking to establish himself at NL level for the first time.
Payne said: “I’m so keen to get back into my racing after missing out on so much last year. I’m grateful to Belle Vue for giving me the opportunity to return and I know it’ll be an exciting season.
“There’s a good blend of experience and new talent in the team. We’ve a lot to live up to after our successes in 2017 but everyone is pumped up and prepared to put everything into our year.”
Bowen added: “It’s such a buzz to know I’ll be riding for Belle Vue, but I’m not here to make up the numbers. I want this team to do well and our success will depend on all seven of us giving everything to our cause.”