Everything you need to know: Speedway World Cup preview
- Credit: Ian Burt
King's Lynn's Adrian Flux Arena will be packed to the rafters on Saturday night, as Great Britain look to go one better than last year, in this season's Speedway World Cup. MIKE BACON takes a look at their hopes – and their opponents.
King's Lynn's Adrian Flux Arena will be packed to the rafters on Saturday night, as Great Britain look to go one better than last year, in this season's Speedway World Cup.
Alun Rossiter's Lions were pipped by Poland into the silver medal position at Belle Vue's National Stadium, in Manchester in 2016, and fans of the sport will be present in their thousands Saturday evening, hoping the Lions of 2017 can win Event One at Lynn and head directly into next Saturday's final in Poland.
Managing that victory will be a feat in itself with Great Britain racing against a strong Australia team, who include King's Lynn riders Chris Holder and Troy Batchelor, the Czech Republic and USA.
Only the winners go direct to the final, second and third-placed teams head to the dreaded Race Off on Friday, where the winners of that will take their place in the final.
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Lynn fans will no doubt be keen to see how Stars' riders Holder and Batchelor get on, but not as keen as they will be cheering on their local home man and GB's thrilling youngster Robert Lambert, who also rides for Lynn in the Premiership.
Lambert suffered a wrist injury at Newcastle last weekend and has been having intensive treatment on it ahead of Saturday's clash.
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He's a huge Norfolk favourite, born in Norwich and carries a great deal on his young shoulders.
British fans will be desperate for him to be fit.
Along with Lambert, Rossiter has handed the GB captaincy to British Champion Craig Cook, while Chris Harris, Steve Worrall, making his debut for GB, and U-21 reserve Adam Ellis make up the rest of the side.
'I've tried to pick riders in form and as always I've picked the team I think gives us the best chance to get another medal,' Rossiter said.
'Chris Harris had an excellent meeting at King's Lynn for Rye House, so I've gone with experience there.
'Robert Lambert has been in the team a couple of years now, he's a home favourite at King's Lynn, and I felt Steve Worrall deserved a chance as well.
'Obviously Cookie is the man in top form and he's our captain, then I've decided after a lot of deliberation to go with Adam Ellis as the Under-21 rider.
'It's going to be tough, we know that, but hopefully we can all work together to have a good tournament.'
Ipswich Witches star Danny King is a surprise omission from Rossiter's selection, having been part of the silver medal team last year.
He has admitted to being 'very disappointed', while former two-time world champion Tai Woffinden said last season he wouldn't be available to ride for Britain in the competition this year – a huge blow for Rossiter's hopes of success.
'It's unfortunate for people like Danny King, but some of those other riders in the squad haven't been at their best so far this season,' Rossiter admitted.
'We all know what points Tai brought to the squad last year and how good he is. He has chosen not to do it and we have to respect that. We can't keep going on about it, it's done and dusted.'
The USA and Czech Republic are not likely to be in the first place battle at Lynn as Britain and Australia go head to head, although a place to make the Race-Off will keep both teams on their toes.
Suffolk fans will enjoy seeing former Ipswich star Gino Manzares in action for America, while sadly world champion Greg Hancock is not riding for the States.
However, when it comes to gold and the ultimate prize, Poland are favourites once again to take the title.
They have won six of the last 10 World Cups and with the final being held in Leszno, Poland, and the hosts directly seeded to that final, it's a brave person who bets against the team of Patryk Dudek, Maciej Janowski, Piotr Pawlicki and Bartosz Zmarzlik – all four sit in the top 10 current individual Speedway GP standings.
On Saturday night, Australia will be Great Britain's main opponents and in Jason Doyle the Aussies have the current joint Grand Prix leader, while Holder and Batchelor's home knowledge could be important.
Event Two takes place in Sweden on Tuesday and it will be a straight showdown between the Swedes and the Danes, with Latvia and Russia making up the numbers. The World Cup always springs up the odd surprise, but there is always plenty of excitement and there will be a lot of national pride on show as well.
Great Britain always get superb support at King's Lynn – British fans will be hoping their team will deliver.