Grand Prix riders being lined up for BEN meeting at Berwick

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AS Berwick gear up for the start of the 2013 season, the club has confirmed that some of the sport’s top stars are set to ride at Shielfield in March.

Club spokesman Dennis McCleary has revealed, that following a meeting with organisers of the BEN Fundraiser, which is to be held on March 9, six riders with Grand Prix experience have already been identified for the line-up.

“At this moment in time we have been asked not to name names,” said McCleary, who is a co-promoter with the Bandits.

“But we can confirm that six of the riders who have been presented to us so far have either raced in the Grand Prix series last season, or will be doing so next year.”

One of the reasons the Berwick meeting is able to attract such big names is the fact that it is Swede Freddie Lindgren’s testimonial at Wolverhampton the following day (March 10) and a lot of the riders will be in the country.

The BEN Fund meeting, which is the traditional curtain-raiser to the season in Britain, has been awarded to Berwick after the Border club emerged as the top money-raising track in the country for the past three successive years.

In recognition of this promoter John Anderson was presented with a special plaque by BSPA chairman Alex Harkness at a recent club function.

“It is a tremendous honour to be staging this event,” said Anderson, “and to have riders of the calibre who have been identified to us just goes to show how much the meeting means to the riders themselves.”

The BEN (Benevolent) Fund is designed to provide money to former or injured speedway riders who have fallen on hard times.

Meanwhile, Argentinian Facundo Albin, who initially looked all set to join Berwick for his Premier League debut season, has joined Sheffield after the Bandits were forced to break their pre-contract agreement.

“Faco was very much in our plans,” said team manager Ian Rae, “but when Seb (Alden) decided to go full-time in the Elite League it left us with a problem. There were more experienced riders out there on similar averages (like Matthew Wethers) and so we decided to let him go.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, and we might very well end up with egg on our face if he does well, but I’m just pleased he has managed to get himself fixed up with another club.”

Meanwhile, Berwick fans are still awaiting news on whether or not the club has managed to attract a major team sponsor for 2013. Bandits were previously sponsored by A&J Scott (sawmills) of Wooperton near Wooler, but their three year deal came to an end at the end of last season.

Berwick have made no secret of the fact that they need to attract a major backer to ease the financial pressure of running the sport on Tweedside and only last week, at a fans’ forum, it was revealed by the promotion that the club were in talks with two potential sponsors.

Promoter John Anderson told supporters he hoped to be in a position to announce some good news in the coming weeks.