Friday February 23, 2018
PETERBOROUGH are delighted to finally confirm the capture of seven-times British Champion Scott Nicholls to spearhead their line-up for the new season.

And the T.Balfe Construction Panthers have also moved to hand club asset Tom Bacon a return to the side at reserve after a promising debut campaign in 2017.

Nicholls, 39, arrives at the East of England Arena with a magnificent domestic record achieved over more than two decades at the top level of the sport.

Ironically his first team place came with the Panthers at the age of 16 in the old Premier League back in 1994, and a glittering club career followed as he was twice part of Treble-winning Elite League line-ups, first with Ipswich in 1998 and then with Coventry as skipper in 2007.

Aside from his national title triumphs, he has also captained Great Britain in the World Cup and competed in 82 GPs.

Nicholls will also be racing in the SGB Premiership for Rye House this season, and his team place with the Panthers comes after he had initially been an unintended victim of a regulation designed to control ‘doubling-up’ between the leagues.

That regulation has now been relaxed to the benefit of home-grown riders, and all parties are now able to plan ahead for the 2018 campaign.

Panthers chief Ged Rathbone said: “I’m relieved that matters have now reached a satisfactory conclusion and we can all concentrate on the season ahead.

“The main thing to focus on is that we have signed an outstanding servant to British Speedway to race at No.1 for us, and we should all be very excited about that.

“Scott’s record in the sport speaks for itself with his British titles, his lengthy career in the Grand Prix, and the contribution he has made to each and every one of his clubs.

“He is still a hugely competitive force, which I’m sure he’ll be showing throughout the season. There certainly won’t be any holding back from him, and I know that’s what the supporters like.

“Scott is also a very much-respected figure off the track and there will be plenty of matters that he will be able to have a positive input into as we go forward.

“It’s great news for us, and I would also say it’s good news for the Championship as a whole, as there will be a number of tracks now that Scott will be visiting for the first time in many years, which should generate a lot of interest.”

Meanwhile Bacon, who turns 25 this weekend, becomes the third member of last season’s septet to return alongside Ulrich Ostergaard and Simon Lambert.

He has made rapid strides at National League level with Birmingham over the past two years, and achieved a number of creditable scores when he stepped up to the SGB Championship for the first time with the Panthers.

Rathbone said: “Tom was always in our minds for a return, but obviously we had to wait to be sure of the make-up of the rest of the side before we were able to confirm it.

“It’s been tough on him to have to wait, but thankfully we’ve got the answer he needed and we’re all pleased to have him back.

“Having worked with him last year it’s good that we have the opportunity to take that forward, and the experience he gained will undoubtedly stand him in good stead to make further progress this season.

“It also means with Tom, Ulrich and Emil (Grondal) we are using our own assets, and that’s been another important factor in the team-building.

“It’s not been the easiest of winters for all sorts of reasons, but with the full team in place now and the new season just around the corner, we’re all positive about what’s to come.

“I’d like to thank our fans for their patience when we weren’t able to tell them what was going on, I hope they understand what we’ve been working towards, and we very much look forward to getting back to racing next month.”

Nicholls is included in the line-up for the high-profile Ben Fund Bonanza at the East of England Arena which kicks off the domestic season on Sunday March 18 (2pm).

That meeting also features a host of former Panthers favourites including Hans Andersen, Kenneth Bjerre, Niels-Kristian Iversen, Danny King and Chris Harris.

And Panthers go into action for the first time in 2018 when they host league newcomers Lakeside in a Championship Shield clash one week later on Sunday March 25 (7pm).

T.BALFE CONSTRUCTION PANTHERS 2018: Scott Nicholls, Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft, Nike Lunna, Emil Grondal, Simon Lambert, Tom Bacon.

Share This:   Facebook Twitter