SPEEDWAY: Hans Andersen and Kenneth Bjerre back at Alwalton

Hans Andersen.
Hans Andersen.
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Peterborough Panthers will launch the 2018 season by staging a major meeting.

The city club host the Ben Fund Bonanza - the now traditional curtain-raiser to the British campaign - for the first time on Sunday, March 18 (2pm start).

Kenneth Bjerre.

Kenneth Bjerre.

And the individual event at the East of England Arena is set to feature a stellar cast headline by a host of popular former Panthers riders.

Danish stars Hans Andersen and Kenneth Bjerre - two of the finest riders to represent the club during the modern era - are confirmed starters along with British racer Chris Harris, who helped Panthers to an SGB Championship KO Cup and Fours honours double last season.

Ben Barker, who guested in the second leg of the KO Cup Final triumph against Ipswich, is also ready to appear at Alwalton along with seven-time British champion Scott Nicholls - a man widely rumoured to become Panthers’ number one for this year.

Panthers owner Ged Rathbone said: “We’re over the moon to be staging the Ben Fund Bonanza. We looked at and talked about holding it for a couple of years and it is great to finally be given the go-ahead.

Chris Harris.

Chris Harris.

“Our stadium and facilities are ideal for this type of event, and the location should be good for supporters from all over the country. We’ll try to put on a good show for the Ben Fund and the paying public.”

It is the 10th anniversary staging of the Ben Fund Bonanza, which is a major fundraiser for the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund (SRBF).

The fund offers support and financial assistance to riders who have been seriously injured, forced into long-term sickness from their regular work, or had their lives devastated as a result of crashes while racing for British teams.

SRBF chairman Paul Ackroyd, who is the driving force behind the Ben Fund Bonanza, said: “I’m thrilled that the meeting will be at such an excellent venue. We have big plans and intend to make this a real fun day for the supporters.”

Panthers are no strangers to staging major meetings. The SGB Championship Fours is usually held at Alwalton every year.