King’s Lynn Stars pair begin their Speedway Grand Prix quest in New Zealand

Stars' no 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen. Picture: Ian Burt

Stars' no 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

World number three Niels-Kristian Iversen and Kenneth Bjerre will kick-start their bid for world championship glory this morning (UK time).

The King's Lynn Stars duo will compete in the first round of the 2014 Speedway Grand Prix series in Auckland, New Zealand, as the sport's finest do battle for the first time this season.

The Norfolk Arena's Danes are among a field of 16 riders who will be doing their utmost to start the 12-round GP campaign on a positive note.

Stars number one Iversen finished third, behind Jarek Hampel and champion Tai Woffinden, in 2013 while his fellow countryman is returning to action after failing to qualify for last year's programme.

Lynn's biggest name said: 'It's all open now. Everybody starts from zero again and there's a long season ahead. If I keep doing what I did last year in the Grand Prix series I don't see why I shouldn't be able to be up there – but it's still early days and I've got to focus on one day at a time.'

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Bjerre is equally confident that he can succeed – despite having a 12-month absence from the worldwide competition – and is targeting a comfortable top-eight finish, which would secure an immediate place in the 2015 series.

He said: 'I'm back in the GPs now and my aim is top five, but we all start at zero points so let's see what happens.'

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Many eyes will be on the holder Woffinden come tapes up in Western Springs. Britain's first world champion since 2000 will be riding through the pain, as he often did last term, after hurting himself while riding for Wolverhampton Wolves recently.

The rider, known as Woffy, suffered back and foot ligament injuries as a result of multiple crashing during the meeting at Leicester Lions, yet headed straight to Heathrow before boarding a flight.

The world champion said: 'I discharged myself from hospital to get the flight. I'm on painkillers. I'm struggling for movement in the left leg because of the impact on my lower back, hip and backside. It's seriously painful but the scans showed it's all good where the bones are concerned, nothing broken.

'But I'm on crutches and the problem is I have to use my right foot, which is the one with the ligament damage. That was caused by the first crash. I thought I'd fractured my foot at first, but thankfully that's not the case and I will be trying to rest it completely while I'm in Auckland.'

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