Star signing Harris can’t wait to get Panthers moving back up the table

Chris Harris (left) in action..
Chris Harris (left) in action..

Three-time British champion Chris Harris is relishing the challenge of dragging Panthers up the SGB Championship standings.

The city side are languishing in eighth place in the table after losing five of their last six meetings. They’ve attempted to arrest that slide by bringing Harris back to the East of England Arena – 14 years after his last spell with the club.

That’s also the length of time since the 34 year-old last rode regularly in the second tier of the sport, but he’s certainly not regarding it as a backward step as he bids to conjure a charge towards the play-offs.

Harris, who also races for Rye House in the SGB Premiership, said: “I’ve wanted to double-up for a while.

“It’s something I hoped might happen in the winter, so when the call came in from Panthers I was very keen.

“Peterborough gave me my first chance in the Elite League, as it was then, and I’ve always been grateful for that.

“It’s nice to be able to come back now and I’m looking forward to the extra meetings that this move will give me.

“The Showground is a big, fast, open track and that’s just what I like. When it’s prepared well, with a bit of dirt on it, it’s great to ride.

“I’ve always enjoyed racing there and had plenty of good meetings down the years.

“It’s a long time since I’ve been to some of the tracks in this league, but that’s all part of the challenge.

“I’m excited about what lies ahead and I’ll be doing all I can to help the team get into the play-offs.”

Harris is the club’s new number one on a 9.21 average. He’ll join Jack Holder and Paul Starke in a powerful trio of heat leaders, with captain Ulrich Ostergaard and Bradley Wilson-Dean completing the main body of the Panthers’ side.

He’s yet to turn a wheel in anger for the club as his first two scheduled meetings – a Saturday trip to Glasgow and a Bank Holiday Monday home date against Workington – were both rained off.

He’ll now make his debut this Sunday at Scunthorpe, weather permitting, in a KO Cup quarter-final clash, but will have to wait another week after that for a first home outing as Panthers host Berwick on June 11.

“It looks like I’ve brought the bad weather with me!” admitted Harris.

“It’s obviously not the start I wanted, but we can’t help Mother Nature.

“Hopefully we can get going at Scunthorpe now this weekend.”

While Harris will line up at the Eddie Wright Raceway for the first leg clash against Scunthorpe (5.30pm), Panthers will be without Holder (World Under 21 Team Cup duty for Australia the previous day) and Wilson-Dean (preparing for a GP qualifier the following day).

The club have hired Ipswich man Kyle Newman to guest for Wilson-Dean, while they will operate rider replacement for Holder.