SHANE Parker is relishing the prospect of making his full Tigers debut tonight but admits he would have preferred an easier start.
The classy Australian will be out in the first race of tonight’s clash with Elite League giants Belle Vue Aces – and that means he’ll be up against British Grand Prix superstar Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris.
It’s a tall order for Parker in his first race for his new club but he inissts it’s all about blowing away the winter cobwebs. He said: “I must admit when I looked at our first meeting I thought it was a bit tough on us but I’m really looking forward to getting into action. I know it’s a hard start for us but at the same time Belle Vue will be as rusty as us because it’s their first meeting of the season too. It should be a cracking meeting for the fans and I’m sure we will see some good racing. Belle Vue will start as favourites because they’re bringing a full strength team; it will be a good workout for both teams.”
Parker always felt destined to ride for Sheffield before hanging up his racesuit, which he is doing at the end of this year. He said: “I’ve always enjoyed riding around the Sheffield track and always had a good relationship with management here, so I’m pleased to be doing my last year in Sheffield colours.
“I made a lot of guest appearances for them down the years so it’s kind of nice that I’m spending my last season riding for them every week!
“I think we can enjoy a good season and it would be good to start with a win against such a powerful side like Belle Vue. I’m excited about making my debut and all the guys are getting on well already after our practice session last week.”
Belle Vue are strongly fancied to make the Elite League play-offs – even with the return of Coventry and Peterborough which appears to have been agreed to make the top flight even stronger. The Aces are good value for a top four place if they can avoid injuries with the winter capture of Harris from reigning champions Coventry a massive coup for the Manchester men. But the key rider could be Danish international Charlie Gjedde who is back after missing last season with a knee injury sustained in a pre-season training accident. Admission prices are at normal levels for tonight’s meeting. A special souvenir programme will be available to purchase in addition.
TIGERS: Shane Parker, Hugh Skidmore, Ricky Ashworth, Emiliano Sanchez, Josh Auty, Ashley Birks, Simon Lambert.