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Ben Barker and Lewis Bridger added to Somerset Rebels Christmas Cracker

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: November 21, 2012

Ben Barker is the latest big-name addition to the Somerset Rebels Christmas Cracker speedway meeting on December 28

Ben Barker is the latest big-name addition to the Somerset Rebels Christmas Cracker speedway meeting on December 28

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Elite League stars Ben Barker and Lewis Bridger are among four riders added to the line-up for the Somerset Rebels Christmas Cracker speedway meeting next month.

The Rebels are hosting the Salt Express-sponsored meeting at the Oaktree Arena on Friday, December 28.

Ryan Fisher and Randy Oldenziel are the other two riders to commit this week alongside Barker and Bridger, and the quartet join existing entrants Ricky Ashworth, David Howe and Simon Lambert.

Sixteen riders will compete for the festive title over 20 heats and a grand final at the Highbridge circuit.

“With seven of the 16 riders now in place, the field already has a very competitive look about it,” said meeting co-ordinator Garry May.

“Barker, Fisher and Bridger are all renowned Oaktree Arena experts, while Oldenziel will be out to make an impression on what I believe will be his UK speedway debut.

“When deciding to run the meeting, we wanted to get as competitive field as possible, especially with it being the first staging of such an event at Somerset, and with the riders announced so far as taking part, together with the remainder who I believe will be confirming their participation, then I think we will have achieved that aim and that the fans will be treated to an excellent night’s racing.”

Barker has most recently ridden for Birmingham Brummies in the Elite League and Plymouth Devils in the Premier League.

He has just agreed to become Ipswich Witches' No.1 for the 2013 season, having topped the Premier League averages this year.

The 24-year-old always goes well at the Oaktree and will be among the favourites to take the Christmas Cracker title, although his former Devils team mate Fisher might say otherwise.

The American showed his liking for the Oaktree Arena by winning the 2011 Somerset Open Championship with a flawless 15-point maximum, and more recently scored paid 14 when guesting for Somerset in the home leg of the Premier League Cup Final against Ipswich.

Just a point behind Fisher in that Somerset Open Championship was Eastbourne’s Lewis Bridger, the 2009 British Under-21 Champion, that success following on from his 2006 victory in the Under-18 Championship.

The Sussex-born rider burst onto the speedway scene with Weymouth in 2005, and after just a year in the sport’s third tier of racing, moved directly into the Elite League, joining his local Eastbourne Eagles, where he has been ever since save for 2010 when he rode for Peterborough before moving on to Coventry, with whom he won the Elite League Championship that year.

The last of the quartet to confirm his participation is 19-year-old Dutchman Randy Oldenziel, a rider who is probably largely unknown amongst many British speedway fans, but is one who is starting to make a name for himself on the continent.

He is also an accomplished grasstrack rider, with a fifth place in the final of the recent Kings of Speed Grasstrack Meeting at Collier Street to his name.

His speedway pedigree includes a fourth place finish in the final of the Belgium Golden Helmet Championship, a meeting in which 2012 Rebel Kyle Newman took third place in the Grand Final.

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