SPEEDWAY: Nicholls signing a boost for the whole Championship

Scott Nicholls in action.
Scott Nicholls in action.
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Panthers owner Ged Rathbone reckons the club’s capture of Scott Nicholls should be celebrated by the entire SGB Championship.

Rathbone was finally given the green light to sign his new number one late last week after a British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) rule blocking Nicholls from racing in the second tier was overturned.

Panthers have faced a winter-long wait to secure the services of the seven-time British champion and are convinced the 39 year-old will make a major impact.

Rathbone said: “We have signed an outstanding servant to British speedway to be our number one and we should all be very excited about that. It’s great news – not just for Peterborough but also for the Championship as a whole.

“Scott’s record in the sport speaks for itself and he is still a hugely competitive force. He is also a much-respected figure off the track and he will be able to have a positive input into plenty of club matters as we go forward.

“I’m relieved we can now all focus on the season ahead.”

Nicholls will be returning to the club where he started his career as a 16 year-old back in 1994. He has since been a stellar performer on these shores and overseas, captaining Great Britain and racing in 82 Grand Prix events.

The signing of Nicholls, who is also now a respected pundit on the sport, was accompanied by a return for reserve prospect Tom Bacon. The 25 year-old enjoyed a promising debut campaign with the club in 2017.

“It has been tough on Tom to have to wait so long to be sure of having a ride,” added Rathbone. “But thankfully we got the answer he needed and we’re all pleased to have him back.

“It also means we are able to use three of our own assets in the team and that has been an important factor in our team-building.”

Bacon is owned by the club along with long-serving Ulrich Ostergaard and the returning Emil Grondal. He is also one of three members of the double-winning team of last season to return - Ostergaard and local man Simon Lambert are the others.

Grondal will be racing on a higher average than initially expected after his figure was reassessed by the authorities. The new figure of 5.04 reflects his scoring during a spell with Swindon in the SGB Premiership last season.

That pushes him up into the main body of a side completed by another returning Danish rider, Michael Palm Toft, and Finnish recruit Nike Lunna.

The new season begins with the high-profile Ben Fund Bonanza individual meeting on Sunday, March 18 which features Nicholls. A number of other Panthers men are also expected to take part.

The club’s first competitive outing follows on Sunday, March 25 when they entertain Lakeside Hammers in the group stage of the League Cup.