THE days are counting down to the start of the new speedway season with the Somerset Rebels staging their season-launching Press and Practice Day at the Oaktree Arena on Friday.

The club are going into the new season as the defending Premier League and KO Cup Champions, as well as Premier League Pairs champions, from their historic 2013 campaign.

The Rebels start the season with a new-look septet, retaining just one rider, Charles Wright, from last year’s double-winning side.

The team will be introduced to the media, club sponsors and season-ticket holders during the afternoon session of Friday’s Press and Practice Day – the riders then taking to the track for some practice laps in the evening.

Somerset promoter Debbie Hancock said: “It is going to be a tough ask to replicate our successes of last season but we will be giving it our best shot and won’t relinquish our titles lightly.

“We would have loved to retain our historic double-winning team of last season, but the speedway rule book meant this was never going to be the case, and so that, together with other factors, has meant we have virtually a new side with which to defend our titles.

“We have a relatively young side, but one I believe will give more than a good account of themselves as well as being an entertaining side to watch, so it augers well for another exciting season of speedway action at the Arena.”