The Somerset 'Mike Manning Audio' Rebels return to their usual Friday night action at the Oak Tree Arena this week (19th) with the visit of the Reading 'Ideal Video' Racers in the Premier League.

After a break from home action due to the team's Northern Tour, the riders will be looking to continue where they left off with their last home match against Rye House, which not only resulted in the Rebels claiming a well deserved victory over the recently crowned Premier Trophy Champions, but also provided the fans with one of the best matches seen this season.

Although currently languishing near the bottom of the Premier League, Reading will not an easy proposition, especially with the return of their skipper, Danny Bird, to the team after long term injury. The Racers pushed the 'Mike Manning Audio' Rebels all the way when the teams met at the Oak Tree Arena in the Premier Trophy back in April, the Rebels only coming out victorious by 3 points, 48-45. The two teams met last month at Reading's Smallmead Stadium in the first leg of this Premier League encounter, Somerset taking the meeting to a last heat decider, before going down by two points 46-44, thereby giving the Rebels a good chance of not only securing the match victory, but also claiming their 4th bonus point of the season.

Leading the Racers, and back from a serious leg injury is 24 year old Danny Bird (9.89). Bird suffered a bad break of his leg in a crash with Isle of Wight's Jason Bunyan in March and has only just returned to the saddle and his place in the Racers team. He showed, however, that the long lay off has done nothing to dampen his ability as he roared to a maximum on his return to the Reading team. An ex Moto-Cross rider (Bird won the 1997 Moto-Cross Champion of Champions Trophy), Bird was long associated with Isle of Wight, where he rode for 6 seasons before joining Reading on a full transfer in 2004. Bird is partnered at number 2 by 20 year old Czech, Zdenek Simota (5.92). Ironically, Simota was pencilled in for a team berth by the Racers at the start of the season, but his assessed average proved to be too high for his inclusion. Bird's injury then opened the door for Simota to belatedly take up his place as a Racer, and he has impressed the Reading Promotion to such an extent, that he has retained his place upon Bird's return to the team.

The number 3 berth is occupied by Andrew Appleton (6.76), a multi talented 'Racer' who not only excels on the speedway track, but is more than accomplished grass and long track rider. Appleton has always shown a liking for Somerset's Oak Tree Arena circuit, as his 12 points when the teams met at Somerset in the Premier Trophy in April. At number 4 Reading track their second Czech rider in the shape of Richard Wolff (5.74). Wolff was brought into the team when Simota had to be dropped from the original line up due his problems with averages, and although somewhat inconsistent, has made some useful contributions to the Racers cause this season. Was a member of the Trelawny team that lifted the Premier Trophy in 2002.

Reading track Slovenian, Matej Zagar (10.33), the leading rider in the Premier League, at number 5. A class rider who proved his undoubted ability by making the final in the Slovenian round of the current Grand Prix series, and an individual who would not be out of place in the Elite League. Originally came to the UK to ride for Trelawny, where he was an instant success, but with the demise of the Cornish outfit, moved on the Reading, where he has gone from strength to strength.

Reading round off their team with two guest riders at reserve, ex-Rebel Lee Smart lining up at number 6 in place of the injured Chris Johnson and Czech Tomas Suchanek at 7 for the unavailable Mathieu Tresarrieu.

Somerset 'Mike Manning Audio' Rebels will track Simon Walker in place of injured Trevor Harding, and will wait on a late fitness test on Chris Mills before making a final announcement on the team line up.

 

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