DEFENDING champion Bjarne Pedersen will be looking to retain his title after signing up for the season-opening Bob Kilby Memorial Meeting on March 14.

The Dane beat Robins number one Hans Andersen, former Robin and new Belle Vue number one Matej Zagar and three-time world champion Nicki Pedersen in the final last year, but went on to have a difficult season for Birmingham Brummies.

Pedersen will be hoping for a better campaign having returned to the comfortable surroundings of Eastbourne Eagles, and Swindon co-owner Gary Patchett is pleased to have the reigning champion back to try to retain his title.

“It’s wrong if you don’t invite the defending champion back, and I’m sure Bjarne will be looking to try and win the meeting for a second year in a row,” he said.

“He is a good rider who always seems to do well around Blunsdon, and on one or two occasions he has come close to riding for the Robins.”

Patchett isn’t sure why Pedersen endured such a bad season with Birmingham in 2012, but is convinced he will be back to his best following his return to Eastbourne.

“Birmingham just didn’t seem to work for him, for whatever reason, and I’m not sure why,” he said.

“He wasn’t able to ride for Eastbourne last season because of commitments in the GP, but he doesn’t have those this year so I am sure it will help him to be back somewhere he knows well.”