New Peterborough Panthers number one Scott Nicholls is delighted to be back where it all began.
The seven-time British champion has been drafted in to spearhead the city side’s challenge for SGB Championship honours in 2018 – and it was confirmed earlier today (March 23) at the club’s Press & Practice event that Nicholls has been purchased a full asset.
Nicholls returns to the club where he made his debut in the sport almost a quarter-of-a-century ago in 1994. It’s also the first time he will have raced regularly in the second tier since that first campaign as well.
He finally got the green light to sign for Panthers last month after a winter saga in which he was initially blocked from SGB Championship action by the authorities, only for that decision to be overturned.
The 39 year-old said: “I’ve got a couple more years under the clock than when I started here at 16!
“But I’m delighted to be back at the club where I first raced professionally even though the formalities all took a bit longer than we expected.
“There were a few moments of doubt during the winter, but I was not going to let the situation beat me and I’m thankful to Peterborough for standing by me for as long as they did.
“I had some very good people in my corner. Unfortunately we had to go down a legal route, which is something no-one really wanted to do, but I felt I had to press that button to ensure I could be here riding for Peterborough today.
“When you’re challenged before the season even starts you tend to come out swinging, and hopefully we can channel it in a good way and use it to spur us on.
“But the main thing is enjoying my racing again and if that’s the case I’m confident I’ll be scoring plenty of points.
“It’s also exciting for me to race at a lot of tracks I’ve not been to for a very long time. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever done a meeting at Workington at all.”
Nicholls goes into the new campaign as the rider with the highest average in the division, although his 9.72 is described as ‘fictional’ by the man himself. The figure is calculated based on his SGB Premiership figure of last season (7.47) and then multiplied by the conversion rate for this league (x1.3).
He’d certainly like to remain top of the individual rankings, but he is also keen to lead Panthers to success whilst also passing on his 24 years of experience to other team members.
“It would be great to finish top of the averages in the team and in the league, but I just want to do the best I can,” continued Nicholls.
“First and foremost it is all about making the play-off and then knuckling down from there.
“I’m hopeful I can put my experience to good use. I’ve made mistakes along the way in my career and I’ll be pleased if I can help other riders not make the same ones.
“But I’m also sure that I will be learning from the younger guys as well. Things change and develop all the time in this sport.”
Nicholls races in a big individual meeting at Belle Vue tomorrow night (March 24) before taking part in Panthers season opener against Lakeside at the East of England Arena on Sunday (March 25, 7pm).
A new-look city team, which also features Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft, Nike Lunna, Emil Grondal, skipper Simon Lambert and Tom Bacon, take on the Hammers in a Championship Shield, Southern Group clash.