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emon in the SGP qualification rounds.

The national boss is expecting a very open Aussie Championship race. Lemon said: “It’s a very tasty line-up. It’s a bit hard to pick this one.

“I’d imagine Chris is going to come back guns ablazing. He seems to have got himself organised again and hopefully we’ll see the true Chris Holder this time.

“Max will want to eclipse what he did last year, back up his qualification to the GPs and show everybody he is up for the challenge. He has progressed nicely over the last 12 months.

“There are a few other guys in there that have matured and developed as well. I wouldn’t like to put my money on any of the guys actually. There are probably half a dozen who could win it.”

Report: PAUL BURBIDGE

Home advantage for GB

JOINT Great Britain boss Simon Stead has a selection headache at the top of his Christmas list as the Lions prepare to race for Speedway of Nations gold on home shale in Manchester next year. The 2020 SON Final will take place at Belle Vue’s National Speedway Stadium on May 8 and 9, with GB seeded through automatically as hosts.

They will be joined by the top three countries from Semi-Final 1 in Landshut on April 25 and Semi-Final 2 in Daugavpils on May 2.

The Landshut meeting sees hosts Germany take on Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Slovenia, France and Italy, while back-to-back World Champions Russia cross the border to Daugavpils, launching their title defence against hosts Latvia, Australia, Sweden, Ukraine, Finland and the USA.

Next year’s GB side may have a slightly different look with Robert Lambert no longer eligible to race as the under-21, and Dan Bewley likely to replace him.

This means Stead and co-team manager Oliver Allen must select Lambert, Craig Cook, Chris Harris or another rider to partner triple World Champion Tai Woffinden, who missed the 2019 Final due to a back injury.

Who gets the nod will be Stead and Allen’s first big call in the job, and it’s one Stead hopes Britain’s finest will make as difficult as possible for them.

He said: “Olly and I are more than happy to have a selection headache. I’d love to be in that position. If we have a number of riders we can choose from, who we think can join Tai and do the job for us, that’s a great headache to have.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the lads to put their hat into the ring and potentially be involved.”

The Brits won a sensational silver medal in Wroclaw at the inaugural SON Final in 2018, and with next year’s showdown on home shale, Stead only has gold in his sights.

He said: “That’s 100 per cent what we are there for. There is only one medal we really want.

“The foundations are there. We have a great set-up and a great bunch of lads to choose from, who are all fired up.

“What better way to kick-start this new generation than with a gold medal? It’s an incentive for Olly and I and it’s also a great incentive for the lads – to win a gold medal on home soil, which would be absolutely incredible.”

If Woffy arrives in Manchester fighting fit in May, his presence would certainly transform Lions’ fortunes.

Stead said: “It’s not just what he does on track. It’s everything he brings to the pits and the squad. We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, but a fit Tai Woffinden is the best rider in the world.

“If he can lead us by example and we can give him the necessary support and pick the right men to go with him, there is every chance.”

Stead isn’t expecting an easy weekend at the National Speedway Stadium – a track the world’s top stars will relish competing on. But he hopes the Brits will enjoy plenty of home advantage on the terraces.

He said: “When you get to that level, being completely honest, it’s going to be an incredibly difficult meeting. Everybody there in the Final will be there to win the gold medal, and they’ll all probably be capable of it.

“It’s nice to be on home soil. It’s nice to be at a track that I know a lot of lads ride particularly well.

“But our home advantage will come from the support of our fans. If we can absolutely fill the place and get the atmosphere going, they can really play their part in helping us succeed.

“I’d like to take this chance to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone involved with and supporters of Speedway GB. We look forward to seeing everybody in 2020.”

Report: PAUL BURBIDGE

Nine years and counting

WOLVERHAMPTON stalwart Jacob Thorssell is delighted to be back with the club in 2020 for what will be a ninth successive season.

The Swedish Champion is a firm fans’ favourite at Monmore Green and has shown good amounts of progress since first arriving in the West Midlands.

And despite an arm injury ruling him out of the first two months of 2019, the 26-year-old feels there is plenty to build on next term.

“If you look at the whole picture it was a pretty good season in the end,” Thorssell said. “Obviously missing the first couple of months of the season wasn’t good but I came back and after a bit of time I started scoring some points again.

“I added a little bit onto my average and I scored pretty well in Sweden and in Poland too.

“To win the Swedish Championship was huge so when I look back on this year I did quite good and I’m happy with my season. Next season I want to up my level again and I’d love to win the league again with Wolves.”

Harris joins Panthers

PETERBOROUGH promoter Colin Pratt is relishing his reunion with Chris Harris at Alwalton next season.

Harris was this week unveiled as the Panthers’ third signing for 2020 – in a move which will go some way towards righting what many viewed as a wrong 12 months ago.

Then, Harris was signed by former promoter Ged Rathbone, only to be controversially switched to Ipswich, at the time a sister club, amidst a hugely negative reaction from supporters.

That occurred before Pratt was installed at the East of England Arena, but of course his links with Harris go way back to buying him for Coventry in the winter of 2003/04 – ironically from the ex-Peterborough promotion at the time – with major success following for both parties.

Pratt said: “I’m really pleased to bring Chris back to the club. I know he was destined to be here last season and it didn’t happen in the end, but that’s history now and we move on.

“Chris has always had a liking for the Peterborough track, he’s always performed well here and I feel his current average is not a true average.

“We met up earlier this month and had a long talk about things, and I’ve always said Chris rides better when he feels settled. He rode for me for so many years at Coventry, and over that time he never dreamed of moving. He’s a really good club man and I believe he still has several good years left in him.”

• Chris Harris interview – see pages 4-5.

Report: DAVID ROWE

n NATIONAL League sides Belle Vue Colts and Leicester Lion Cubs unveiled riders for next season ahead of the Christmas break.

Reigning champions Leicester will once again have the Thompson twins, Dan and Joe, in their side as they defend the league and cup double.

Belle Vue Colts, meanwhile, have taken the plunge with their full side being announced as Speedway Star went to press.

Talented teenagers Jordan Palin and Kyle Bickley will front their challenge alongside familiar faces Ben Rathbone, Paul Bowen, Ben Woodhull and Connor Bailey.

They have also snapped up Yorkshire youngster Harry McGurk, who makes the switch after the closure of Cradley.

More details on these signings will be in next week’s Speedway Star.

Riss returns to Lynn

ERIK Riss wants to establish himself as one of the best riders in the Premiership after agreeing a new deal with King’s Lynn for 2020.

After becoming a real fans’ favourite at the Adrian Flux Arena last term, the 24-year-old German has set his sights on taking his career to the next level.

“I want to become better every year,” said Riss. “I have a constant drive to become better and better, I just have to be more consistent this season. I also have to put a point or two on my average. I want to establish myself in the Premiership as one of the top riders in the league.

“In 2020, I want to be more consistent with my scores at home and increase my average as I still feel like I can get better around Lynn too.

“I can fully relax now. It is definitely a good thing that I am fixed up for the new season before Christmas because it means I can focus on preparations for the next campaign.”

With Sheffield in the Premiership now and Kent moving to the Championship alongside Poole, it means the two leagues have a fresh look and Riss is up for the challenge.

He added: “It’s not going to make too much of a difference for me with the clubs moving because I will still be racing on tracks like Sheffield and Poole this season.

“I have already ridden there over the last few years, so the only thing that is different is that they are in another league now. Kent is obviously a fresh challenge, but I have experience on my side.”

Report: ROBIN ALLEN

December 28, 2019 speedway star 3

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