THE new 2013 Speedway season gets off to an early start tonight at the Berwick Bandit’s Shielfield Park with the tapes-up due at 6.30pm, writes Lawrence Heppell.
The Border track has recently gained a significantly increased prestige with the hi-tec Polyfoam safety fence and their three-year FIM International licence, and as a result was chosen to stage one of the most important meetings of the British season tonight – the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Find individual Ben Fund Bonanza.
The Ben Fund supports injured rides in the UK and is a vital aid to making sure their suffering, financially at least, is kept to a minimum and Berwick has topped the track collection hit parade for the last four season raising around £5000.
Tonight 20 top riders battle it out for the coveted title, but favourite is certainly Danish star Hans Andersen, a four times Grand Prix winner. His support of the event is much appreciated by organiser Paul Ackroyd.
Paul said: “Hans is very pleased to be back in the Ben Fund meeting again and wants to get his title back.
“His Grand Prix record speaks for itself and he is definitely one of the main contenders for this year’s meeting.”
As well as riding in the Grand Prix last season, Andersen was top man in the side as the Swindon Robins swept to the Elite League title in 2012. He is very much one of the superstars of the modern era.
The Elite League is well represented with Eastbourne Eagle Cameron Woodward, current Ben Find Champ Ben Barker from Birmingham, top Brit Chris “Bomber” Harris also from the Brummies as is Danny King and Mads Korneliussen of King’s Lynn.
Top local talent is also on show with Bandits’ own Kozza Smith and Ricky Ashworth who didn’t need to be asked twice: “The Benevolent Fund is such a great cause for the riders who have been injured, they’ve been a great assistance to myself and a lot of fellow competitors over the years so I jumped at the chance when Paul offered me a place to ride in the meeting.” Ashworth said.
“I’ve been a part of it before, the very first event, and that was a massive success. It was great to get in amongst it and race against some of the big names and claim a few scalps as they say, and I’m hoping to do that this time round.
Newcastle’s Ludvig Lindgren, Steve Worrall and twin Richie join in too with former Diamond’s skipper Mark Lemon, now with Plymouth who said: “It’s a pretty important part of Speedway, at times I’ve benefited from it. You hope you are not going to be a beneficiary but it’s there when you need it in hard times.
“It’s important to keep the fund topped up so that when you need it, it’s there.”
Doors open at Shielfield Park at 5.00pm for the 6.30pm tapes-up
FULL FIELD: Ben Barker (Birmingham), Richie Worrall (Newcastle), Ricky Ashworth (Berwick), Chris Harris (Birmingham), Josh Grajczonek (Somerset), Richard Hall (Sheffield), Mads Korneliussen (King’s Lynn), Danny King (Birmingham), Cameron Woodward (Eastbourne), Claus Vissing (Unattached), Joe Haines (Sheffield), Theo Pijper (Edinburgh), Mark Lemon (Plymouth), Ludvig Lindgren (Newcastle), Hans Andersen (Swindon), Kozza Smith (Berwick), Steve Worrall (Newcastle), Morten Risager (Ipswich), James Wright (Glasgow), Kyle Howarth (Workington)
Admission prices: Adults £16, OAPs / concessions £12, Children under 16 £5