AUSSIE CHAMP HOLDER READY TO DEFY SPEEDWAY GP DOUBTERS

23/01/2023

AUSSIE CHAMP HOLDER READY TO DEFY SPEEDWAY GP DOUBTERS
New Aussie champion Jack Holder insists he’s determined to prove his Speedway GP doubters wrong after starting 2023 by lifting his first national championship.

Despite his Speedway GP rival Jason Doyle winning the opening three rounds of the Australian Championship series, Holder triumphed in the title decider at North Brisbane on January 11 to deny the 2017 Speedway GP world champion gold by two points.

It’s a major addition to Holder’s growing CV, which includes the FIM Speedway of Nations gold medal he won with Australia in Vojens last summer. He also finished third at the FIM GP Challenge in Glasgow last August to book his place in this season’s Speedway GP series.

Having only taken his spot in the 2022 field when Russian duo Artem Laguta and Emil Sayfutdinov were suspended due to the war in Ukraine, last year’s first reserve Holder is pleased to have punched his own SGP ticket for 2023.

The Aussie finished 12th, but he’s determined to capitalise on his Speedway GP experience in his second season on the sport’s biggest stage.

“I had a bit of a taste of Speedway GP last year,” Holder said. “My expectations were probably a bit too high for myself, but it was all a learning curve. I qualified on my own merit for 2023 and I am really looking forward to proving everyone wrong again. I think it will be a lot better, so I can’t wait.”

Having qualified via the FIM GP Challenge for 2023, without the aid of a wild-card pick or reserve place, it’s fair to ask who Holder feels he needs to prove wrong this time around.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Dan Bewley and I were the reserves for the Grand Prix and then all the Russian stuff happened. Their riders got suspended. We both got lucky. It wasn’t our plan to get in like that, but it happened, and Dan and I were just in the right place at the right time.

“I know a lot of people weren’t really happy about that, but that’s the way it goes. It always feels good to qualify on your own terms and earn the spot to be in there.”

While every rider dreams of being crowned world champion, Holder admits ensuring he’s back for 2023 by securing a top-six finish is his top priority. He said: “Of course I want to go in and win it. You have to have a lot of luck to do that, but I just want to improve on last year. That’s the main goal.

“You have to get in the top six and that’s pretty cutthroat – you have 15 of the best riders in the world. I definitely want a couple of podiums hopefully and a couple of finals. I’ll aim for that top six hopefully.”

Whatever happens, Holder already has an Aussie title in his trophy cabinet, having defeated one of the strongest fields the championship has boasted for a decade, including Doyle, triple Aussie champion Max Fricke, former champions Rohan Tungate and Brady Kurtz, and of course Holder’s 2012 Speedway GP world title-winning brother Chris.

“I still can’t really believe it,” he said. “I have worked so hard for this, so to have finally got it with such a strong field is surreal. I know I only won one round and Doyley won three, but I’ve got the trophy at home, I was the most consistent and I am the champ, so I am very happy.”

Chris lifted five Aussie titles between 2008 and 2014, with Jack watching all the action from trackside. It was big brother’s turn to lead the celebrations this time.

“Chris was over the moon for me,” he said. “Everyone was. It was such a cool feeling. Chris has five of them and I am pretty sure I was there for all five. I am very proud of him, and he was there for me too, jumping over the fence when I won my first one.

“My Mum, Dad and girlfriend Jess were all there and my brother Jimbo was watching at home. He couldn’t make it, but when we got home, we definitely made up for it all. I still really can’t believe it.”