Wolverhampton defend an unbeaten start to the new season in the first big local derby of 2002 at Brandon this weekend.

All roads lead to Coventry International Motor Speedway on Saturday night as the Whale Toyota Bees stage the first leg of this season's unofficial championship of the Midlands.

Last year Bees beat Wolves 6-2 in their eight meetings - winning all four league matches between the two close rivals - and the fact the Monmore men have yet to taste defeat this year after six league and cup matches will only provide extra incentive for Colin Pratt's men.

Pratt said: "Wolverhampton have had a great start to the season but we will be trying to end their sequence on Saturday. We are up for it."

Wolves, who defeated Poole 57-33 on Monday night to move into the quarter-finals of the KO Cup on a 102-78 aggregate, have reunited the Swedish Karlsson brothers this season - Peter returning to the club after two years away to team up with Mikael - as well as signing David Howe from Peterborough.

Saturday's teams (7.30pm):

Nick Whale Toyota Coventry Bees: Billy Hamill (Capt), rider-replacement for Stuart Robson, Lee Richardson, Billy Janniro, Andreas Jonsson, Wayne Carter and Ryan Fisher. Team manager: Colin Pratt.

Wolverhampton Parrys International Wolves: Mikael Karlsson, David Howe, Jesper B. Jensen, Paul Hurry, Peter Karlsson, Daniel Nermark and Chris Neath. Team manager: Peter Adams.

Rocket Rico:

Lee Richardson bagged a brilliant 18-point haul as the Whale Toyota Bees clinched a dramatic 45-44 Elite League win at Eastbourne on Saturday.

Richardson was only denied a possible 21-point maximum by a last race fall as the Whale Toyota Bees came from 11 points down after six races to pip the much-fancied Sussex outfit in their own back yard.

Richardson, who rode in five races out of six at one stage, said: "It was tough having so many rides close together but I had to get on with it. I was really tired after my sixth ride, my arms were pumped up and I probably shouldn't have done heat 15. It would have been nice to have finished with a 21-point maximum as I have never had one before, but I was quite happy in the end with 18 points and a Coventry win.

"Everything seems to have clicked into place for me at the moment and touch wood it will continue to do so."

Fixture and results (Elite League unless stated):

Fri 15 Oxford Challenge A L43-47
Sat 16 OXFORD Challenge H L42-48
Sat 23 IPSWICH H L42-48
Fri 29 Belle Vue A W46-44
Sat 30 BELLE VUE H W49-40

Mon 1 Peterborough A L44-46
Sat 6 Eastbourne A W45-44
Wed 10 Poole A
Fri 19 Oxford A
Sat 20 POOLE H