THE new Speedway season gets under way on Friday at the Oaktree Arena, as the Somerset Rebels take on the Plymouth Devils in the first leg of the Air-Fence’ Challenge matches.

The Rebels welcome their local rivals to Highbridge, before travelling for the return leg the following night.

Both sides have made a number of changes to the line-ups from the end of last season, with Plymouth welcoming Ben Barker back to their ranks to lead the side, after the Great Britain International spent last season with Ipswich.

Unfortunately Barker’s Elite League duties with Birmingham mean that he will not be riding in Friday’s match, but Plymouth have made an astute choice of guest replacement, in 2013 Rebel, Josh Grajczonek, who was one half of the duo (along with Jason Doyle) who won the Premier League Pairs Championship for Somerset.

There should be two other familiar faces to Somerset fans in the Plymouth side, with Kyle Newman and Alex Davies now lining up for the Devils - but visa issues have delayed Davies’ return to the UK and temporary Plymouth signing, Zdenek Simota, the 2004 Czech Under-21 Champion, will be riding in Davies’ place.

Rebels team manager Garry May said: “I know this might only be billed as a challenge match, but we will not be taking things lightly, I want the team to get into the winning habit right from the off and to install that same winning mentality that took us to the League and Cup double last year.”

# THE Somerset Rebels have made a late change to their team line-up for the new 2014 speedway season, with Nick Morris coming back into the starting septet in place of Ty Proctor.

Morris was a member of last season’s Somerset team which completed the Premier League and Cup double, and was originally announced as being retained by the Somerset promotion for 2014, only to be subsequently released in December when the club were advised that Brady Kurtz would have to start on a 5.00 average rather than the anticipated 3.00 figure.