QUALIFICATION is the name of the game for the riders preparing to compete in the Grand Prix Qualifier at Shielfield on Saturday.
There are limited places up for grabs, which means competition from the 16 riders on show will be tough.
Pre-meeting favourite will be Chris Harris. The Coventry skipper is a Grand Prix regular over the past few years and also competes regularly for Great Britain on the international front. ‘Bomber’ is a former Shielfield track record holder, and although he is not having his best of seasons to date, he will still be a hard man to beat.
Main competition was likely to come from Tai Woffinden, but he broke a bone in his hand a few weeks ago and only recently underwent an operation. Last week he was forced with withdraw from the meeting and his place will go to Danny King, brother of Berwick rider Jason.
Davey Watt, who rides for Poole, is likely to emerge as one of the main challengers. He rode in the Fence Fund Meeting at Shielfield earlier in the season, so should know his way around the track.
The same goes for American Ryan Fisher, a popular visitor to Shielfield during his days with Edinburgh. If he gets out in front he is a very hard man to pass.
But don’t rule out the likes of Sam Masters. He had a very good year with Somerset in the Premier League last season, winning the PL Riders’ Championship, and is now mixing it with the best in the Elite League with Poole.
Krzysztof Buczkowski from Poland will be making his first visit, but he could be a dark horse, as could Matej Kus from the Czech Republic, who has had some good meetings at Shielfield in the past.
Of the rest Tero Aarnio (a former Bandit) and Emiliano Sanchez both have plenty of Shielfield experience and they will be keen to impress, as will American Kenny Ingalls, who stars with Workington in the Premier League.
Christian Heffenbrock, Kenneth Hansen and Linus Sundstrom all have Elite League experience and should be amongst the points.
Italy’s Gino Franchetti, Facundo Albin from Argentina and Henry van der Steen of the Netherlands may not have the same quality about them, but fans will be eager to see how they perform against the more established riders.
All in all it’s a very interesting mix. As speedway followers know, anything can happen on the night.
HOW THEY LINE UP
1.Sam Masters (Aus)
2.Emiliano Sanchez (Arg)
3.Krzysztof Buczkowski (Pol)
4.Chris Harris (GB)
5.Gugielmo Franchetti (Ita)
6.Christian Hefenbrock (Ger)
7.Henry van der Steen (Ned)
8.Kenneth Hansen (Den)
9.Ryan Fisher (USA)
10.Matej Kus (Cze)
11.Tero Aarnio (Fin)
12.Davey Watt (Aus)
13. Danny King (GB)
14.Linus Sundstrom (Swe)
15.Facundo Leonel Albin (Arg)
16.Kenny Ingalls (USA)
17.Lee Complin (GB) - Reserve
18.Ricky Ashworth (GB) - Reserve