WYE Valley speedway rider Paul Starke has rejoined the Plymouth Gladiators for the upcoming 2023 season, 13 years on.
The Glewstone-based 32-year-old, who rode for the Ipswich Witches in the Premiership and the Oxford Cheetahs in the Championship in 2022, rode for the then Devils at the start of his career from 2008-10.
The arrival of the popular Starke, who has achieved a multitude of League, Cup, Shield and 4 Team Tournament successes with a variety of clubs in all three tiers of UK League racing is a massive boost for the West Coast club.
He will be linking back up with Gladiators boss Garry May having worked with him with success in the Premiership and Championship at Somerset.
Starke said his links and conversations with May were one of the “main reasons” for him signing with the Gladiators. He also said having ridden before for second-tier Plymouth, and knowing lots of the fans were a big reason for making the move.
Many riders compete for different teams in both the Premiership and Championship, with Starke considering whether to add the commitment for a Premiership ride to the journey down to Plymouth.
“Travelling can be a killer,” he admitted, having journeyed as far as Newcastle and Ipswich last season.
A Gladiators spokesperson said: “Paul is known as a highly entertaining racer and joins a team packed with some of the best thrill-makers in British Speedway in Kyle Howarth and Ben Barker, and in Richie Worrall, one of the most consistent and reliable accumulator of points and one of the most exciting rising stars in Dan Gilkes.”
Starke achieved Title and Cup- winning success early on at Plymouth before more success at Dudley/Cradley, Somerset, Peterborough and Poole.
Promoter Mark Phillips said: “Paul is probably the best value rider in British Speedway at the moment on his current average.
“He could easily challenge the top three in our side, in Richie, Kyle and Ben, who many acknowledge to be the best heat leader trio so far named.
“Paul has had an unlucky spell with injuries in the past few seasons but will start fully fit and raring to go. He is renowned as a team player and a team man and together with his father Tony will be a great asset on and off the track and an excellent mentor to our younger riders Dan Gilkes and reserve Ben Trigger in his first Championship season.
“I have every expectation that Paul will boost his average. His ability to score as many, possibly more points, away from The Coliseum as he does at home will also be a massive asset for us.
“Paul will add massive experience and points-scoring potential in the engine room of the team and we should certainly be ultra-entertaining both at home and away in 2023 with a team packed with full throttle racers.”