Tapes up at last as King’s Lynn Stars return to Elite League
Elite League speedway finally returns to West Norfolk tonight after an absence of eight years – and King's Lynn Stars promoter Keith Chapman insists it's time to flex some muscles.
After a winter of discontent involving the make-up of the league and the 11th-hour reprieve for the previously excluded champions Coventry and local rivals Peterborough it is finally time to raise the tapes.
The Birmingham Brummies, who came up from the Premier League with Lynn in the close season, are the opponents in the first leg of the Elite Elevation Trophy (7.30pm) – with the second leg following 24 hours later.
And Chapman believes all eyes will be on the Norfolk Arena.
'We have not come into the Elite League to make up the numbers,' said Chapman, who took over the reins in 2003 after the demise of the former Silver Machine.
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'We want to be successful and our aim is to qualify for the play-offs in our first season. I am sure Birmingham also have the same goals and with the competitive history between the two teams this trophy promises to be a great way to start the season.
'It will also give fans a chance to gauge who will make the biggest success of their move up and I am sure all the other Elite League teams will also be watching to see what they will come up against when they meet the two of us.'
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The Stars will include world number seven Kenneth Bjerre, and former Grand Prix rider Niels-Kristian Iversen. Two of last year's riders, Tomas Topinka and Lasse Bjerre, have also been included for the home leg, although Sam Masters will replace Bjerre for the away leg.
Birmingham are led by Polish international Krzystof Kasprzak – a former GP rider, World Under-21 champion and double World Team Cup winner – and former British Under-21 champion, Daniel King. There is local knowledge in their ranks in the shape of former Lynn favourite Daniel Nermark, who helped lead the Stars to their historic treble in 2006. Number seven Claus Vissing has been ruled out due to a broken wrist, but will be replaced by Dutchman Theo Pijper.
Lynn team boss Rob Lyon is feeling upbeat now the start of the season is here.
'It has been a hard winter but I am roaring to get going,' he said. 'It is great for us and fans that we now have 10 teams in the league and with so many top riders visiting us on a weekly basis I have never felt so excited about a season.
'I am a team manager, but I am also a fan of speedway and I could think of nothing better than launching the season against one of our biggest foes from the Premier League.
'I just hope we can come out victorious over the two legs and collect our first trophy of the 2011 season on Thursday night.'
• King's Lynn Stars: 1 Kenneth Bjerre, 2 Tomas Topinka, 3 Olly Allen, 4 Mads Korneliussen, 5 Niels-Kristian Iversen, 6 Lasse Bjerre, 7 Filip Sitera.
• Birmingham: 1 Krzysztof Kasprzak, 2 Ales Drymel, 3 Ben Barker, 4 Daniel King, 5 Daniel Nermark, 6 Theo Pijper, 7 James Wright.