The biggest speedway event ever staged at Sheffield's Owlerton Stadium takes place tonight with the launch of the 2002 Speedway World Cup.

Host nation Great Britain face holders Australia, the Czech Republic and Germany in a meeting which starts at 7.30pm.

Britain include current Sheffield skipper Sean Wilson along with ex-world champion Mark Loram and Chesterfield-born Joe Screen.

Ryan Sullivan, one of the contendors for this year's world crown, lines-up for Australia alongside the brilliant Jason Crump and Leigh Adams. And Robbie Kessler, a Sheffield asset currently on-loan to Hull, is included in the German side.

The Czech Republic are capable of threatening with the exciting Dryml brothers - Lukas a recent Grand Prix runner-up - spearheading their challenge together with Bo Brhel and Toni Svab both of who have Elite League experience.

A big crowd is expected with the back straight terracing open for the first time in over a decade. Advanced ticket sales have been encouraging but fans are reminded that cash turnstiles will be open tonight.

The top team from tonight's event will gain automatic qualification for the grand final next Sunday at Peterborough as will the winners of the other two qualification events - Poole on Monday and Eastbourne on Tuesday.

Second placed teams plus the two highest scoring third placed teams get a place in the "last chance saloon", also at Peterborough, on Thursday night with the top two finishers from that lining up in the final along with the automatic qualifers.