PIRATES chief Matt Ford backed Brady Kurtz to launch a serious bid to reach the Grand Prix series and insisted: "He is capable of holding his own at any level."

Wimborne Road spearhead Kurtz is one of speedway's most exciting young talents and he is this year set to have a second crack at earning a full-time berth in the world championship.

The 21-year-old's second-place finish in the Australian Senior Solo Championship earlier this month meant he secured a spot in qualifying.

And Kurtz is due to begin his bid to race at speedway's top table in May when he competes in a semi-final at either Danish track Slangerup, Italian circuit Lonigo or German venue Abensberg.

The New South Wales charger reached the GP challenge in 2016 but finished 13th in a fearsome line-up at Swedish track Vetlanda, missing out on one of three prized spots.

However, Ford is confident Kurtz has the talent to make the final push this time round, following in the footsteps of the likes of Poole duo Chris Holder and Darcy Ward, the former a global champion in 2012.

Ford told the Daily Echo: "I did feel a couple of years ago that it was too soon for Brady and it certainly was. But now I put nothing beyond him. I feel he is capable of holding his own at any level.

"Getting there is going to be tough. It is really tough for anyone to qualify but he has as much chance as anyone else.

"This year, with him riding in England, Sweden and Poland, he's going to be riding against the best week in, week out and it will do him the world of good."

Kurtz was handed a wild card for the 2016 Australian GP, managing two points at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

He raised eyebrows in last year's event when riding as a track reserve, beating Maciej Janowski, Holder and Antonio Lindback in heat one before a tapes offence saw him excluded from his next outing.

Although he was second best to Rohan Tungate in this month's Aussie title race, Kurtz won 18 of the 24 races in which he competed. And in races in which he crossed the finish line, the Poole asset won 18 out of 21.

Ford added: "You can see how much Brady is improving as a rider.

"Of course it could be argued the Australian Championship is not as competitive as it was when the likes of Craig Boyce, Leigh Adams, Chris Holder and Darcy Ward were racing.

"But Brady's form in it was scintillating. Apart from breakdowns and falls, he almost went through the championship undefeated.

"He is clearly on the verge of moving forward and we can only benefit from that."

Meanwhile, Pirates' full SGB Premiership fixture list is due to be released tomorrow morning.

Ford is planning to stage a home fixture on Good Friday, March 30 (11am), with opposition to be confirmed.

The first racing of the year at Wimborne Road will be the club's 70th anniversary meeting on Friday, March 23.

Press and practice is inked in for the Wednesday of that week and a gala dinner at Vitality Stadium is set to take place on the Saturday.