Matt Ford believes his sensational swoop for British legend Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris will propel the Volvo Cars Poole Pirates firmly into the SGB Premiership play-off shake-up.
Ford confirmed a deal had been put in place for Harris to replace Linus Sundstrom, after the Swede raised concerns with Ford over his current form.
Harris’s signature was up for grabs following the closure of his 2018 club Rye House, who were ejected from British speedway’s top-flight earlier this month due to mounting debts.
Ford said: “Chris phoned me after Rye House’s demise was confirmed and said that if an opportunity arose at Poole then he would jump at it.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking to make a change, but then Linus said he wanted to chat about things and said he was struggling for form. “He said he hadn’t found the form he had hoped for in the UK but also in Sweden and Poland and said he felt he was letting the club down.
“I didn’t feel that way at all – he did his best for the Pirates while perhaps not hitting the top form that I know he is capable of.
“I suggested that he took a month’s break and we would revisit the situation in mid-to-late August.
“He’s a great guy, but I felt he would be pushing for our number one slot and it hasn’t quite worked out how either of us had hoped.”
Cornishman Harris, a three-time British champion and winner of the 2007 British Grand Prix, picked up three Elite League titles during a decorated spell with the Coventry Bees between 2004 and 2010.
Hugely popular, he led the Bees to the 2010 title against the Pirates, scoring paid 15 in the Grand Final second leg at Wimborne Road.
Ford added: “Chris has been a thorn in our side for many a season and we have consistently been on the wrong end of his inspirational riding.
“He had come into my thinking on a few occasions but we had never been able to make things happen previously.
“But after I called him to discuss him coming on board in more detail, we had agreed terms in less than two minutes! He is a pleasure to deal with and will capture the imaginations of our supporters in a big way.”
Harris, who comes in on a 6.86 average, uses up most of the Pirates’ spare 0.75 team-building allocation with Sundstrom departing on 6.40.
The 35-year-old will make his Poole debut at King’s Lynn on July 23, before making his Wimborne Road bow against Leicester 48 hours later.
Ford said: “I hope that this team will do what I hope it can do. We’re only seven points off the top position and oddly enough in our 12 matches we’ve scored more race points than the leaders Somerset have!
“We’ve got seven home meetings and five away, so there is plenty to play for. I firmly believe this team can challenge for the play-offs.”
up to and including 27th September