Current world champion to race at the Oak Tree Arena

SPEEDWAY - JASON Crump, the current world speedway champion, has confirmed that he will be amongst the 16 riders lining up for Somerset Speedway's 10 Year anniversary meeting on March 19.

JASON Crump, the current world speedway champion, has confirmed that he will be amongst the 16 riders lining up for Somerset Speedway's 10 Year anniversary meeting on March 19.

That's the exciting news the Rebels management had been hoping for, with Crump's confirmation made all the more of a coup by virtue of the fact that the world number 1 is not planning to ride on a regular basis in the UK this year, so his appearance at Somerset's celebration meeting will be one of the few opportunities that British fans will get to see him racing here.

Crump's victory in last year's World Championship Grand Prix series was the third time that he has lifted speedway's ultimate prize, his other titles coming in 2004 and 2006. Additionally Crump can count a World under 21 crown as well as twice being a winner of the Australian National Championship amongst his impressive list of major titles that he can list on his speedway CV.

For Crump, riding in Somerset's anniversary meeting is almost akin to him returning to his roots as the 34-year-old was actually born in Bristol, as his father Phil, a third place finisher himself in the 1976 world final, was one of the sport's top riders of the 70s and 80s riding as he did for Newport, Bristol and Swindon.

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"To say that we are over the moon that Jason has confirmed his place in the line- up would be an understatement," said a delighted Debbie Hancock. "The field already had a star studded ring to it, but to have the current world champion is really something special.

"I know that Jason was very disappointed that he had to pull out of Mark Lemon's testimonial towards the end of last season due to his well documented arm injury, but he did say at the time that if fit and other commitments permitting, he would come and ride in our anniversary meeting, and true to his word he confirmed his participation following his return to the UK from Australia.

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"In keeping with last season, three-time world champion Crump is not planning to be competing full time in the British Elite League this year as he looks to retain his world crown, and so his appearance at the Oak Tree Arena could well be one of the few opportunities for fans to see him riding in the UK in 2010. We are very honoured that he has chosen to make one of those rare appearances at the Oak Tree Arena."

NEWS that Somerset's Jay Herne has suffered a knee injury while competing in the recent Australian long track championship has thrown the proverbial spanner in the Rebels plans for the start of the 2010 season, which is now just four weeks away.

Initial thoughts that Herne would recover sufficiently to take his place in the Somerset septet receded with the news that the 25-year-old required a skin graft on the damaged knee, but as club promoter Debbie Hancock explains the Rebels have options available to them:

"While we hope that Jay will be fit for the start of the season, skin grafts can take a time to 'bed in' and we do not want him to rush back if he is not 100 per cent fit. With this in mind we have made contingency plans to bring in a rider for the short term, should needs dictate, to cover for Jay's absence.

"We received a reduction in Steve Boxall's initial starting average to 6.88 from the BSPA management committee, which was double his 2009 Elite League average with Poole, and gives us 5.84 to play with should we need to bring in any short term replacement for Jay."

Eleven down, five to go, that's how the line-up for Somerset's 10 year anniversary meeting stands with the news of two more confirmed starters, Lewis Bridger and Lubos Tomicek.

After spending just a single season in the Conference League with Weymouth in 2005, Bridger's potential was such that he made the jump directly into the Elite League as he joined Eastbourne, with whom he has spent the past four years, although 2010 will see the 20-year-old Bridger lining up in new team colours, having joined Peterborough for the forthcoming campaign.

The current British Under-21 Champion and a finalist in last year's World Under-21 Championship, Bridger also won the British Under-18 title back in 2006 and was a member of the Great British side that competed in last year's Speedway World Cup.

Tomicek first came to the UK to ride for Oxford in 2003, but moved into the Premier League the following year, joining Newcastle in the process. Further spells with Oxford followed until the Cheetahs demise in 2007, when he moved on to Lakeside.

Injury curtailed his 2008 campaign, and the 23-year-old Czech appeared lost to British speedway until he was signed by Belle Vue in August last year in a raft of changes that also saw Jason Crump join the Aces.

Unfortunately, though, his time with the Manchester club was to only last four matches, a broken collar-bone coming as a result of a fall involving team-mate Kevin Doolan forced Tomicek to sit out the rest of the season, but now fully fit he is looking to resurrect his British career in 2010.

Further rider confirmations for Somerset's prestigious celebration meeting are planned for the coming week, and it is hoped that at least two, if not three, of the outstanding five places will be filled by Grand Prix calibre riders who will not be riding on a regular basis in the UK this season.

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