BOMBER JOINS LIONS AS CLUB MAKES SGB PREMIERSHIP MOVE

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

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BSPL AGM | BONUS POINTS BACK IN BRITISH SPEEDWAY FOR NEXT SEASON

Aggregate bonus points will be up for grabs in Britain’s top leagues after clubs voted to ditch the country’s complex scoring system for 2023 at the British Speedway Promoters Ltd annual meeting. In an online vote, fans indicated that they preferred a simplified scoring system, which sees clubs earn two points for a win, and a bonus point for scoring the most points on aggregate over the clubs’ home and away meetings – similar to the format used in the Polish, Swedish and Danish leagues. This will be introduced in the SGB Premiership, where clubs will stage A and B fixtures, meeting home and away twice. It will also apply in the SGB Championship, where teams have agreed to meet home and away once – and not twice as originally planned due to fears there was not enough time in the schedule for more league matches to be staged. There will no longer be draws in either league. Any meetings that end tied will be settled by a super heat, along with any deadlocks for the aggregate bonus point. In a similar format to the FIM Speedway of Nations, the winner receives four points, with three for second, two for third and none for finishing last. The team that records the most points in the super heat scores two league points, with the other side still earning one league point. For the first time ever, electronic timing will be introduced in British speedway as the BSPL teams up with MYLAPS, with the system available to confirm race times and settle any close finishes. Leicester’s promotion to the SGB Premiership was confirmed at the AGM, and they join champions Belle Vue, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, Ipswich, King’s Lynn and Peterborough in a seven-team league. The clubs will build their sides to a limit of 39.00 points for six riders, as well as signing one Rising Star from a list of British riders. The top four sides will contest the play-offs, while the Knockout Cup will be staged, along with a three-round Pairs series, with meetings taking place at Ipswich, King’s Lynn and Sheffield. With Edinburgh securing an extra year at their Armadale home, the SGB Championship will feature nine clubs, also including champions Poole, Glasgow, Berwick, Redcar, Scunthorpe, Plymouth, Birmingham and Oxford. The SGB Championship play-offs have been overhauled following criticism that the top two sides were previously left facing a long wait to stage their semi-finals while the quarters were completed. The top six finishers in the league will now be split into two groups of three, with the group winners facing off in the Grand Final. The top two finishers will select their opponents for the group stage of the play-offs. Teams will be built to a limit of 40.00 points for seven riders. There will also be a Knockout Cup competition and a regionalised early-season cup competition with the teams drawn into groups of three. Berwick, Edinburgh and Glasgow meet in one group, with Redcar, Scunthorpe and Birmingham facing off and southern clubs Poole, Plymouth and Oxford also meeting. The three group winners and the highest-scoring runners-up progress to the semi-final, with a final to decide the tournament winners. The National League annual meeting takes place on November 29. But it has already been confirmed that speedway will return to Cumbrian town Workington at their revamped Northside track. Photo: Taylor Lanning

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TIGERS BAG BELLEGO FOR 2023

French international David Bellego is back in British speedway after signing for Sheffield for 2023. Bellego returns to the SGB Premiership after a three-season absence, having helped Swindon to the first and only league and couple double in the club’s final season in 2019, as well as winning the title with the Robins in 2017. In his time away from the UK, Bellego has established himself as a top performer on the world stage, having helped France to its first FIM Speedway of Nations Final in 2021 – the nation’s first team world final in the sport – as well as appearing in the Speedway European Championship. Bellego joins forces with Speedway GP rider Jack Holder and Polish racer Tobiasz Musielak at Owlerton, and club owner Damien Bates admits his new recruit has been on his radar for some time. He said: “We’ve actually been looking at David for a while now. He’s a rider who has always impressed me whenever he has been to Sheffield and he’s a top-quality rider in my opinion. “I feel he could make a massive difference to Sheffield next year and I think it’s a cracking signing for the team.”

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HOLDER BROTHERS TEAM UP AT VASTERVIK

Speedway GP star Jack Holder has joined his older brother Chris in the Vastervik squad for the 2023 Bauhaus Elitserien season. Holder last raced for the club in 2019, but he departed when the pandemic struck in 2020. With the Aussie riding for Sheffield in the UK, Holder was unable to compete in Sweden this year due to Polish restrictions limiting PGE Ekstraliga riders to racing in just one other league. But with this limit relaxed to two for 2023, Holder is back in Sweden and joins a stellar squad, featuring his 2012 world title-winning brother Chris, as well as triple world champion Tai Woffinden, Bartosz Smektala, Gleb Chugunov, David Bellego, Mads Hansen, Jacob Thorssell and Anton Karlsson. Holder will initially join the side in a back-up role due to his busy schedule, which also features the Speedway GP series, the PGE Ekstraliga and SGB Premiership, but Morgan Andersson hopes the Lublin and Sheffield star can be part of the club’s play-off matches. He said: “It feels very good to have Jack back, even if the arrangement is based on a type of back-up position. He will ride in two leagues in addition to Sweden and the GP series, so the deal with Jack is that we will look over how the schedule is and, in the first place, find enough competitions so that we can use Jack for a possible play-off if necessary, because it is required that you race at least 12 heats in the regular season.” Commenting on the deal, Holder said: “I am very happy to be back in Västervik. It has been a few years, but now I'm back and I'm really looking forward to 2023 and helping the club win medals. See you in the spring.” Elsewhere, Indianerna have extended young gun Hugo Lundahl’s contract in Kumla into 2023.

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SAYFUTDINOV SEALS RACING RETURN WITH TORUN

Former world No.3 Emil Sayfutdinov joins 2021 Speedway GP world champion Artem Laguta in making a PGE Ekstraliga comeback for 2023 after Torun confirmed the Russian in their squad. Like Wroclaw star Laguta, Sayfutdinov is also a Polish citizen, and the pair will now compete on Polish licences after Russian riders were suspended from the shale by the FIM due to the war in Ukraine. Sayfutdinov was due to line up for Torun in 2022, but his move was blocked by the Polish authorities, who also banned Russian-licenced riders from their competitions. But the three-time Speedway GP bronze medallist gets back on track at the Marian Rose Motoarena next season, where he teams up with Speedway GP duo Robert Lambert and Patryk Dudek. They are joined by local hero Pawel Przedpelski and 2022 SGP2 racer Wiktor Lampart, who will serve as the club’s under-24 rider after making the move from champions Lublin. Young guns Krzysztof Lewandowski and Mateusz Affelt will complete the side in the under-21 berths. It has also been rumoured that Matej Zagar has signed a non-binding contract with Torun, but he is not expected to race for the club and is expected to seek a new employer ahead of the season.

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