SOMERSET Rebels star Sam Masters will start his quest to win the Australian Speedway Championship this weekend.

The 20-year-old, who was born in New South Wales, first has to negotiate a qualifying round held on Friday evening.

Despite being the current British Premier League Riders’ Champion, a title that Masters won last September at Sheffield’s Owlerton Stadium, he has to pre-qualify for his national championship - a legacy of his last place in the New South Wales State Championship.

Rebels’ spokesman Ian Belcher said: “Unfortunately Sam had a disappointing home State Championship and as a consequence he has to compete in the pre-championship qualifying meeting, along with 15 other hopefuls.

“The top seven from that meeting will join the nine seeded riders to battle it out for the 2012 Australian title.”

The Championship will be decided over three rounds, taking place over consecutive weekends, starting with Queensland’s North Brisbane round this weekend.