The tapes rise tonight [Saturday] on the 2003 Sky Sports Elite League season when the Oxford Silver Machine make the short trip north to Coventry in an opening season challenge, the match gets underway at 7.30pm.

Following a hugely successful Launch and Practice day yesterday the team are in a fighting spirit and can not wait for the season to start. The team all received a warm welcome from the large gathering of fans who attended the Disco at the stadium in the evening with returning number one Todd Wiltshire delighted to be back at Oxford.

He said: "At one point I thought that I would be missing another year of British Speedway but I was delighted to receive a phone call from Nigel [Wagstaff] and to be back here at Oxford. In my opinion this team is every bit as strong as the one which won the Elite League a couple of years ago."

Oxford will be at full strength for the clash and will use Charlie Gjedde at number seven. Coventry have not had such a major change in the winter and have stuck with their heat leader trio of Billy Hamill, Andreas Jonsson and Lee Richardson. Ex-Oxford rider Jason Bunyan has joined their ranks at reserve.

Oxford race their first official fixture at the Isle of Wight on Tuesday, March 18th, 2003 in the British League Cup. The team has to be re-declared at 36 points and details of the team will be released as soon as possible.

Oxford's home season begins on Friday, March 21st, 2003 when they take on the Swedish touring team from Kaparna. Kaparna boasts two big guns in the shape of Peter Karlsson and Ryan Sullivan and they will be a stern test for the new Silver Machine.