Former Speedway GP star Chris Harris is backing Leicester to surge straight into SGB Premiership title contention as he joins the Lions for their return to Britain’s top tier this season.

The Cornishman celebrates his 40th birthday on November 28, but he remains one of British speedway’s top performers. He makes the move from Peterborough, having helped their iconic ‘Dad’s Army’ team to the 2021 SGB Premiership title.

While Leicester’s Paul Chapman & Sons Arena track is a tighter and more technical circuit than the oval at Panthers’ East of England Showground, Harris is certain he can adapt.

He said: “I’ve had two good years at Peterborough, but I just felt like a change and when I heard Leicester were coming up, I thought it would be an opportunity to try something new and to challenge myself.

“Leicester has always been a track that I’ve enjoyed going to, even though I didn’t score as many points as I would have liked there with Berwick this year, but I’ve been there in the past and scored heavily. It’s quite a technical track with long straights and tight corners, and I’m sure being a home rider next season I’ll get dialled in there.

“I almost got to work with Stewart at Glasgow (in 2018) before he left there, and you always know he’s going to put a competitive team together. That’s what I want to be in. I want to win trophies at the end of the day, and with what he’s talking about doing, I definitely feel we can be up there.”

Lions boss Dickson believes Coventry-based racer Harris’ experience will come as a huge boost as the club moves back up to the SGB Premiership.

He said: “Chris is a rider I’ve always admired, and he’s very much tried and tested at Premiership level.

“He knows all the circuits, and for what we’re trying to do as we move back up next year, I think it’s going to be important to have someone with his level of experience.

“He can obviously still cut it, as his scores this year show, and they weren’t just achieved on his home track. He was banging in big scores and beating some top, top riders along the way.

“When we spoke, he was keen and excited about it, and I know it’s a good move for him from a family point of view as well, being close to home for his wife and kids to come and watch.

“And I think it could also tempt a few Coventry fans as well, especially after the good news last week of the planning application on Brandon being refused.

“The most important thing is what he can do on track for us, but the commercial aspect is a good side story too.”

Photo: Taylor Lanning