Two title winners complete the Panthers line-up for 2017

Paul Starke. Picture: Colin Burnett
Paul Starke. Picture: Colin Burnett
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Panthers co-promoter Trevor Swales is backing the chosen ones to chase SGB Championship success.

The city club have completed their 2017 septet with the capture of two reigning champions - Paul Starke and Bradley Wilson-Dean.

Bradley Wilson-Dean. Picture: Colin Burnett

Bradley Wilson-Dean. Picture: Colin Burnett

Both riders have been snapped up after helping Somerset to title glory in the second tier of the sport last season.

Hereford-based Starke, who also helped Poole win the Elite League in 2015, will arrive on a 6.62 average and slot into the main body of the team whereas Kiwi talent Wilson-Dean will start the campaign at reserve on a mark of 5.02.

Swales said: “I can’t think of a better way to complete our team-building than by bringing in two riders who won the title last season.

“Paul and Bradley were part of a superb Somerset team and hopefully they can help us to enjoy success of our own in 2017.

“They have already shown their liking for the East of England Showground as visiting riders and I’m sure they both have plenty of scope for improvement once they get themselves fully dialed in.

“Paul has done nothing but progress in recent years and I’m sure he’ll be looking to challenge the guys like Jack Holder, Ulrich Ostergaard and Kenneth Hansen for heat-leader spots.

“And I’m expecting big things from Bradley.

“He will start the season at reserve and I don’t expect there to be many better riders than him in that position.”

Swales insists the latest pair of arrivals leave Panthers in the enviable position of having been able to attract all of their first-choice targets.

Their completed team is headed by rising Australian star Jack Holder (7.16 av), returning skipper Ulrich Ostergaard (7.14) and popular Danish capture Kenneth Hansen (6.74).

Starke and Simon Lambert (5.25) will complete the top order of the team with Wilson-Dean joined by promising British rider Tom Bacon (2.00) at reserve.

Swales added: “When myself, Ged Rathbone and Carl Johnson first sat down as a management team a few weeks ago, this is the team we wanted to put together.

“We didn’t want to make the mistake of being too top-heavy and leaving ourselves short of points at reserve.

“We feel we have got the perfect blend of potential in the main body while always having a rider capable of scoring well at the bottom end.

“The key thing for me is that all seven riders have the potential to improve their averages - and if that happens, we’ll be on to a winner.”