BERWICK Bandits will be up against the top rider in the Premier League tonight when the Plymouth Devils take to the Borders shale.
Cornishman Ben Barker, 23, who has twice represented the UK in the World Team Cup in a career which started in youth grass-track racing at the age of seven, is back in the Premier League after helping Coventry Bees win the Elite League last term and carrying all before him.
Berwick’s co-owner John Anderson said: “His scoring has been frightening this season.
“Ben is the only rider in the entire league with an average score of more than ten points a match (currently 10.14).
“He went on an amazing run of being unbeaten for 31 consecutive races – a record he finally surrendered when our two Swedish stars Seb Alden and Ludvig Lindgren beat him into third place when Berwick raced at Plymouth last month.”
Also in Plymouth’s line-up will be Guglielmo ‘Gino’ Franchetti, a Bandit in 2009-10.
Franchetti was Italian champion in 2009 and the previous year he contested his nation's Grand Prix at Lonigo’s Santa Marino stadium.
This evening will be his first racing visit to the Shielfield Park since being released by the club in the latter part of the 2009 season.
Berwick team boss Ian Rae is sweating on the fitness of New Zealander Jade Mudgway, who suffered an injury to his right foot during last Saturday’s defeat of Workington Comets. Rae said: “Jade says he will be fit. I truly hope so as he is a vital part of the team at home.”
Newcastle Diamonds welcome Ipswich Witches to Brough Park tomorrow evening, with their major concern again centring on the fitness of one of their riders.
In a season all-too-frequently punctuated by injury problems, reserve Kyle Newman became the latest casualty when he crashed to the track for his National League side Dudley at the Isle of Wight.
Newman was transported to hospital where, after lengthy treatment and X-rays, he was released with no broken bones.
The youngster returned to his Weymouth home.
His father Keith said: “It looks as though he has been in 20 rounds with Mike Tyson, but thankfully there are no breaks.”
Newcastle team manager George English said: “We are delighted to hear there are no breaks, but Kyle must be a major doubt for our match against Ipswich.
“When he has rested up, I will speak to him and discover the exact situation.”
Popular Australian Shane Parker, in his retirement year, will be taking the guest booking for the injured Mark Lemon.
Parker scorched to a brilliant 14 points for his own club Sheffield last Sunday against the Diamonds, but agreed soon after that meeting to come back and hopefully do it all again for the home side tomorrow.
Ipswich include former Elite League star Morten Risager, while youngster Lasse Bjerre is a highly-rated prospect with a good family background as he is the brother of King’s Lynn’s Danish Grand Prix star Kenneth, who starred for Newcastle some years ago.
The Witches also include former Sheffield man Chris Mills at reserve alongside impressive British youngster Jerran Hart.
BERWICK A & J SCOTT BANDITS: 1 Sebastian Alden, 2 Ludvig Lindgren, 3 Kozza Smith, 4 Josef Franc, 5 Lee Complin (captain), 6 Mitch Davey, 7 Jade Mudgway.
PLYMOUTH DEVILS: 1 Ben Barker (captain), 2 Lee Smart (rider replacement), 3 Jesper Kristiansen, 4 Justin Sedgmen, 5 Ricky Wells, 6 Guglielmo Franchetti, 7 Jamie Courtney (guest).
NEWCASTLE SAPPHIRE ENGINEERING DIAMONDS: 1 Shane Parker (guest), 2 Derek Sneddon (captain), 3 Joe Haines, 4 Rene Bach, 5 Claes Nedermark, 6 Kyle Newman – subject to fitness, 7 Richie Worrall.
IPSWICH WITCHES: 1 Kevin Doolan (captain), 2 Taylor Poole, 3 Matt Tresarrieu, 4 Morten Risager, 5 Lasse Bjerre, 6 Jerran Hart, 7 Chris Mills.