Pedersen heads star cast at King’s Lynn
King's Lynn old boy and triple world champion Nicki Pedersen adds a touch of speedway royalty to tonight's televised Elite League Best Pairs event at King's Lynn (7.30pm).
Pedersen is back in British speedway for the first time since 2007 after agreeing to spearhead Peterborough's top flight charge once the Panthers and reigning champions Coventry finally came to the tapes for the 2011 domestic season.
The Dane partners another Lynn exile, Troy Batchelor, in a powerful-looking duo drawn in pool A alongside King's Lynn's Kenneth Bjerre and Niels-Kristian Iversen.
World U21 champion Darcy Ward and British GP winner Chris Holder lead Poole's challenge in a group B featuring British number one Chris Harris, racing for new club Belle Vue.
Only the top two teams in each pool progress to the semi-finals and Stars' co-promoter Jonathan Chapman believes Pedersen's appearance alone will guarantee top quality action. The Dane previously rode at King's Lynn for two seasons nine years ago and heads to Saddlebow fresh from top scoring with paid 15 on Easter Monday for Polish club Gorzow.
'This is great news for the fans because there is no doubt Nicki Pedersen is box office and it's great to have him back racing in this country,' said Chapman. 'It's only correct that one of the top names in the world should grace a prestigious meeting like this. It's an unbelievable line-up and a huge honour for King's Lynn speedway to be hosting the event.'
Stars' chief Buster Chapman is backing Lynn's own Danish duo to shine in front of another global television audience after impressive starts to their Stars' careers.
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'It is obviously a great honour to be hosting this event and unlike the last time it was here, we actually have our own two riders, Kenneth and Niels, representing Lynn,' he said. 'They have some stiff competition though, with one of the strongest line-ups in the competition I can remember.
'Obviously our own pairing does look strong and most fans would normally claim home advantage, but if we are successful then I would argue that this doesn't apply. It's a new home for both riders and they will be racing on one of the fairest tracks in the country.'
World U21 champion Ward makes a swift return in place of Poole's Davey Watt after featuring in last week's 50-43 league defeat at the Norfolk Arena. Pirates' boss Matt Ford admitted Watt has struggled for early season form.
'Davey is still trying to get his set-ups right and has been investing heavily in doing so,' he said. 'Right now he feels that it is in the best interests of the club for him to step aside in the pairs and let in-form Darcy take his place. Of course I support that view but once again it is a fine example of Davey looking at the team's interests above his own.'
Coventry won the event at Ipswich last year, but have been forced into a late change, with Ryan Fisher deputising for the injured Hans Andersen. Two young British starlets have also been ruled out through injury. Tai Woffinden broke a collarbone in a BMX accident over the Easter weekend and could be out for up to three weeks. Wolverhampton were poised to use the rider replacement facility for last night's league meeting with Belle Vue ahead of unveiling Freddie Lindgren's prospective partner at Lynn.
Birmingham are without Danny King who crashed in Poland last week. Ales Drymel steps in with Brummies' boss Graham Drury awaiting the results of hospital scans to assess the extent of King's injury.
'Danny took the decision to come back to England and have a CT scan,' he said. 'They put him in a neck brace in Poland and told him he had probably broken a bone. It's a real blow to both Danny and the team and we wish the lad well.'
Group A: Wolverhampton (Fredrik Lindgren/tbc), Peterborough (Troy Batchelor/Nicki Pedersen), Birmingham (Krzysztof Kasprzak/Ales Dryml), King's Lynn (Kenneth Bjerre/Niels-Krisitian Iversen), Swindon (Scott Nicholls/Simon Stead).
Group B: Coventry (Ryan Fisher/Edward Kennett), Lakeside (Adam Shields/Lee Richardson), Belle Vue (Chris Harris/Rory Schlein), Eastbourne (Bjarne Pedersen/Joonas Kylmakorpi), Poole (Chris Holder/Darcy Ward).
Adults: �20, concessions: �15, juniors (12 to 15) �5 with free entry for children aged 11 and under.