OXFORD Cheetahs have signed former top-flight winner Paul Starke to replace Kyle Newman.

The 31-year-old was riding for Newcastle Diamonds until the northeast club announced their closure last week, while he also races for Ipswich Witches in the SGB Premiership.

Starke comes in for Newman, who has been managing a shoulder injury sustained earlier in the season and parted ways by mutual consent.

It is a disappointing end to the Dorset-based rider's Cheetahs career, but his replacement is excited to experience Sandy Lane for the first time in tomorrow evening’s clash with SGB Championship leaders Leicester Lions.

“It’s unfortunate how this move has come about given Newcastle’s sad closure,” said Starke.

“Like everyone connected to the sport, I hope the club can find a solution to return to racing as soon as possible.

“The Championship is a seriously competitive league packed with top class riders and clubs with outstanding history.

“Oxford is no exception to this and to be part of the club’s regeneration is exciting for me.

“I’ve seen pictures of the packed terraces and heard good things about the feel-good atmosphere on race nights.

“Hopefully these elements combined with a collective push to reach the end-of-season play-offs can inspire a good second half of the season for me personally and the Cheetahs.”

Starke secured 38 points from 25 rides for struggling Newcastle, while he averages 1.21 for Ipswich in the Premiership.

His former clubs include Poole Pirates, where he won the Elite League in 2015.

Newman accumulated 56 points from 52 rides for Cheetahs, including five heat wins, and was proud to play a part in the team's first season back.

He said: “I’ve been struggling with my shoulder this season and haven’t been completely happy with my riding at times.

“I’m still receiving treatment now and there are no hard feelings between myself and the club after reaching this decision mutually.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of the Cheetahs’ re-launch in Oxford and I wish Paul and the rest of the team every success for the rest of the season.”