Oxford's revival has been one of the biggest success stories in British Speedway and their move into the top league came as a huge surprise, with their promotion bravely opting to run at both Premiership and Championship level in 2024.
As fellow Premiership newcomers Birmingham have found out, building a top flight team as the new boys is not easy, but Oxford promoter Jamie Courtney has somehow managed to pull it off.
Finding a number 1 to lead the Spires into the new season was probably the biggest challenge, but tempting Polish star Maciej Janowski to return to UK racing could prove to be a masterstroke. The ex-GP rider is one of the world's best riders and a 'big name' signing such as this will have the Oxford Stadium terraces buzzing for the new season.
The Oxford faithful certainly won't be short of entertainment in 2024 either. Nicolai Klindt, Chris Harris and Charles Wright are all out-and-out racers and will form the engine room of the Spires team.
Klindt can be devastatingly quick and is able to beat anyone when he is in form. 2023 wasn't his best season and it finished with a nasty injury, but he is a classy rider and has the ability to increase his starting average of 6.89 if he takes a liking to the Oxford Stadium circuit.
'Bomber' Harris needs no introduction - he is a legend of British Speedway who has been there and done that. He is simply spectacular to watch and is a fierce competitor, but can be a little inconsistent at times. To get the best out of Bomber the Oxford track will need a good dirt line which will give him the opportunities he needs to pass the opposition.
In the same vein, Wright too will benefit from a good dirt line. The 2019 British Champion is a hard rider that never knows when he is beaten, and his surprise release from Belle Vue will have had Courtney running to his phone for his signature. He is a dependable performer home and away, but is returning from serious injuries sustained racing for Wroclaw at the end of 2023.
The Spires top 5 is completed by Rohan Tungate. The 2024 Australian Champion is a welcome addition to this year's Sports Insure Premiership and he is capable of fulfilling a heat leader spot comfortably, though consistency has been a problem in the past. He can be extremely quick and Oxford fans can be happy with his arrival.
Oxford's biggest trump card could be the signing of Lewis Kerr at reserve. The tattooed Brit spent 2023 with the Oxford Cheetahs, where he finished the season with an average of well over 8 points. Kerr is a quick trapper and will be very dangerous at reserve for the Spires!
Oxford's Rising Star berth is handed to young Brit Ashton Boughen, who represents both the Spires and Cheetahs for Oxford. The 16-year-old is rated by many to be the next big star of British Speedway, but he is still very inexperienced and only had his first ride on a speedway bike as recently as 2022! He is one to watch for sure, but may find the going tough in his first season at Premiership Level.
Oxford have built a very decent side and an entertaining one at that! They have a top 5 who are all capable of winning races regularly, but some can also be inconsistent at times. They lack some top end power, but they like King's Lynn have strength in depth and a very good reserve, so the Spires should be in the hunt for a play-off place in 2024.
SPIRES LINE UP FOR 2024:
Ashton Boughen (RS)