SPEEDWAY SIGNING: British star Harris joins city side

Chris Harris. Picture: Ian Bush
Chris Harris. Picture: Ian Bush
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Peterborough Panthers have pulled off the major signing of leading British star Chris Harrs.

The city club announced the capture of the former World Championship racer late last night (May 26). Harris, who famously won the British SGP back in 2007, goes straight into the Panthers side for their SGB Championship clash at Glasgow tonight (May 27).

And promoter Ged Rathbone reckons the arrival of the 34 year-old, who will become the club’s number one rider on a 9.27 average, is the perfect pick-me-up for a Panthers outfit who have slumped to four successive defeats and find themselves languishing in eighth place in the second-tier standings.

Rathbone said: “We simply couldn’t ignore the opportunity to bring in a rider of Chris’ calibre.

“Chris has been there, seen it and done it in speedway. He also loves the East of England Arena and is prepared to put Peterborough before his Polish commitments.

“Chris is under no illusions about the difficulty of the SGB Championship, but he is relishing the challenge.

“His presence will take some of the pressure of the other guys and, along with Bradley Wilson-Dean stepping up from reserve, it potentially gives us the strongest top five in the league.”

Rathbone admitted he came close to moving for Harris during the winter. Instead club bosses opted for a strength-in-depth approach without a recognised big-hitter.

But they have lacked the required clout with several riders not performing to the levels expected of them. One of those is Danish ace Kenneth Hansen, who has been sacrificed.

Rathbone added: “We very nearly tried to sign Chris during the winter, but eventually opted to go down a different route.

“I still maintain that trying to build with strength in depth was the correct call even though things haven’t quite fallen into place with a couple of riders not hitting their best form so far.

“But I now feel this is the right time to make a change and I can’t wait to see Chris racing for Panthers.

“We’ve all got to pull together and dig deep now. It’s a fresh start from tonight and we’ll do everything we can to start climbing the table.”

Harris, now 34, spent two years doubling-up with city club earlier in a career during which he raced for Coventry for 11 seasons.

He is currently with Rye House in the SGB Premiership and will now race in the second tier of the sport for the first time since 2003.

Harris takes over the number one berth from Jack Holder, who faces a late fitness test ahead of the Glasgow clash after crashing out of last night’s 60-30 thumping at Edinburgh.

Paul Starke, skipper Ulrich Ostergaard (who returns tonight after being in a Danish League fixture last night) and Wilson-Dean complete the main body of the side with Simon Lambert now dropping to reserve