NEWPORT Wasps have added their third signing for the 2003 season with the news that Carl Wilkinson is coming back to Hayley Stadium for a second term.

Wilkinson joins Aussie duo Craig Watson and Frank Smart in the Wasps side for next season and the former Great Britain Under-21 international is the sort of rider promoter Tim Stone wants at Hayley Stadium.

"Carl is a gutsy rider, who doesn't give you 100%, he gives you 110%," said Stone.

"He was the first signing I made for the 2001 season and I'm delighted that he is coming back again.

"He did very well for us last season and he has raised his average by nearly a point."

Wilkinson's main problem last season was he was occasionally let down by his equipment and Stone has revealed that supporter John Mallett, of Mallett Transport, is trying to arrange some sponsorship for Wilkinson next season to provide him with a spare bike.

But with Lee Dicken announcing that he is set to return north to his home town Hull and ride for the Humberside club, Stone now has some spaces in his side and fans can expect to see some new faces at Hayley Stadium next season.

Newport fans will have an early chance to see Wilkinson in action on Sunday January 5 (1pm) when he rides in the New Year Classic, Stone has finalised all-but-one of the 12 places and the line-up also includes defending champion Michael Coles, Chris Neath, Lee Lanham, Sean Tacey, David Howe, Roger Lobb, Les Collins, Brent Werner, Rob Kesler, Paul Clews.

Stone added: "Now I have nearly put the New Year Classic to bed, I can concentrate fully on completing the Wasps line-up for next year.

"I have been talking to someone who could come in as a third-heat leader, but he hasn't been able to commit yet and I'm hoping things will move along soon."

* Michael Coles will defend his New Year Classic title at Newport on Sunday, January 5. The Exeter rider was one of the first to agree to take his place in the line-up and he has now been joined by Arena Essex star Leigh Lanham and Brent Werner from Rye House. Promoter Tim Stone said: "We're pleased to have Michael back and I'm sure it will be a good meeting."

* Somerset have been given another week to reach an agreement over a new lease at the Oak Tree Arena.

A meeting scheduled for Monday was postponed for a second successive week and it could now take place on Thursday.

Rebels promoter Andy Hewlett said: "Whenever solicitors get involved it can become a long, drawn-out affair and I can understand the supporters becoming frustrated."