Monday February 12, 2024
AS the countdown to the 2024 campaign gathers pace, we take a look at the six clubs who will be vying with the King’s Lynn Stars for play-off places come the autumn.

The Sports Insure Premiership is looking even stronger than last year, and whilst those who reached the semi-finals and Grand Final have elected to tweak their line-ups, others have made wholesale changes, and of course there are two new clubs looking to make an impression.

The Stars’ first opponents of the new season are LEICESTER, in their second year back at this level, with the sides meeting in the East Midlands on March 21 followed by the return at the Adrian Flux Arena on March 28.

There’s a strong Wolverhampton flavour about the Lions, who just missed out on the top four in 2023 and have brought in Sam Masters, Ryan Douglas and Luke Becker, all of whom were regular members of the Wolves side prior to the club’s shocking eviction from Monmore Green.

Former Grand Prix star Max Fricke is the out-and-out No.1 for the Lions with ex-Star Richard Lawson completing a strong top five, whilst at reserve Drew Kemp steps up from Rising Star and that position is inherited by Joe Thompson.

Our local rivals IPSWICH went so close to the title last season so it’s no surprise they have retained the bulk of their 2023 team, including their super powerful spearhead of Emil Sayfutdinov and Jason Doyle, along with skipper Danny King.

Adam Ellis is a new arrival for the Witches on what appears a bargain average, whilst young Aussie Keynan Rew is back for a second season.

The Foxhall club have brought in Jordan Jenkins at No.6 – well known to Rob Lyon after his time with Peterborough – whilst Dan Thompson is the Rising Star.

Defending champions SHEFFIELD will be heavily fancied to be in the race for honours again, with all seven of their 2024 team having represented the club at some stage last season.

The Tigers have a double Grand Prix spearhead in Jack Holder and Tai Woffinden, with Chris Holder returning for his first full UK season since 2016.

Former Stars captain Josh Pickering and skipper Kyle Howarth complete the top five, with another ex-King’s Lynn rider Jason Edwards joining Rising Star Dan Gilkes at reserve.

Meanwhile BELLE VUE are another team to make limited changes from last season, with five of the 2023 Aces returning including their powerful heat-leader trio of Brady Kurtz, Dan Bewley and Jaimon Lidsey.

The Manchester club have picked up Ben Cook, who impressed at Peterborough last year, and he joins the promising German youngster Norick Blodorn in the second-string berths.

Norfolk racer Connor Mountain comes in at reserve, with British Under-21 Champion Connor Bailey continuing as the Aces’ Rising Star.

The loss of Wolves and Peterborough means there are two new clubs to the Premiership this season, and it means the Stars will be racing against OXFORD for the first time in over two decades.

The new Spires team also has King’s Lynn connections as they are headed up by former World No.3 Maciej Janowski and Danish racer Nicolai Klindt, whilst Australian Champion Rohan Tungate is also back in British Speedway.

A strong-looking top five is completed by experienced British duo Chris Harris and Charles Wright, whilst another ex-Star Lewis Kerr will expect to score heavily at reserve. Talented teenager Ashton Boughen takes the Rising Star berth.

Meanwhile BIRMINGHAM are back in the Premiership for the first time since 2014, and they bring in a top two who have been absent from UK racing for several years, as Piotr Pawlicki and Vaclav Milik (a Star in 2015) join the Brummies.

Promising Polish youngster Wiktor Lampart is a new face to these shores, whilst the Perry Barr outfit have also picked up three former Wolverhampton riders in Steve Worrall, Zach Cook and Leon Flint, with the latter two likely to form a strong reserve combination.

Improving British youngster Tom Brennan has also joined the Second City side after spending the last three seasons with Belle Vue.

It’s set to be a fascinating season ahead with a big battle on as ever to reach the play-offs – and the action is only just over a month away!

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