LAMBERT OUT TO EXTEND SPEEDWAY GP STAY

Great Britain racer Robert Lambert believes securing an FIM Speedway Grand Prix return for 2023 is “a very realistic goal” as he prepares for the season opener in Croatia on April 30. Lambert achieved a creditable 10th spot in his full-time Speedway GP debut season in 2021 – reaching three straight semi-finals in the last three rounds of the season and five in total from a possible 11. He also cemented his status in British speedway folklore, when he led the Lions to world-title gold in the FIM Speedway of Nations Final in Manchester last October, securing a 5-4 victory over Poland in the Grand Final alongside team mate Dan Bewley. Lambert hopes to bring those heroics on to the Speedway GP stage this season. Asked his goals for the year, he replied: “It’s pretty standard and the same as last year – it’s just to qualify for next season. That’s the first goal. This can change throughout the season, but I think that’s a very realistic goal to set myself.” Lambert recently trained at Donji Kraljevec’s Speedway Stadion Milenium ahead of the new season and has previously visited Croatia for the FIM GP Challenge – the final round of the Speedway GP qualifiers. It’s a track few riders race on regularly, which ensures a level playing field. So Lambert is determined to find an edge over the competition. He said: “We have a fair bit of experience here, but it all comes down to how things are on the day. The draw is always important but everyone is in Speedway GP for a reason – this is the top level and it will all be close. It doesn’t matter what track it is on. You need to perform and be at your best. “The track is a leveller, but if there are some advantages that we can find in my team, we will work to make the most of those.” Another goal for Lambert in 2022 is retaining the FIM SON world title with Great Britain. This season’s competition takes place over four days in Esbjerg from July 27-30. While the Lions were seeded into the Final as host nation last season, they must secure a top-three finish in one of the semis this time around to qualify. This gives the Brits another meeting to negotiate, but Lambert is up for the challenge. He said: “We need to do it twice in a row! That’s definitely a goal but it’s a new story this year. Firstly, we need to focus on qualification for the Final. That will be the first goal, and then we will jump to the next goal, which is winning it again.”

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PEDERSEN’S LUCKY ESCAPE

Danish icon Nicki Pedersen insists he had a lucky escape after a heavy crash in Vojens last night. The triple world champion, who was riding for Holsted in the Superligaen contest, fell hard after catching Danish shooting star Ben Basso’s rear wheel in heat seven. Pedersen took no further part in the meeting, which Holsted won 44-40, but he took to social media after the match to insist he has no major injury concerns. Posting on Facebook, he wrote: “To those who showed their concerns after my crash last night, I have escaped cheaply. “I got a nice big skin scrape on one buttock and then I got a little twist to the neck, which caused my neck collar to be damaged. “I'm a little sore in the neck this morning, but there’s nothing more in it. “In the afternoon I have to put on my running shoes and jog 5km before I go to the airport later this afternoon to head to Poland. “Thank you for the support yesterday, I'm glad the Holsted boys fought on and secured us a victory in Vojens.” Photo: John Bo Jensen

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SWEDEN GEARED UP FOR BIGGEST SPEEDWAY SEASON ON KANAL 9 AND DISCOVERY+

New Speedway Grand Prix season to reach more fans in Sweden with every race on discovery+ and Eurosport and free-to-air coverage of key races on Kanal 9 Season begins on 30 April with localised on-site coverage and studio shows planned for key events including season-defining race in Målilla in September With six world individual titles, one of the greatest speedway riders of all time Tony Rickardsson will take the sport to the next level in his role as global ambassador  Fans in Sweden have less than two weeks to wait until an era-defining season of speedway is screened through a unique broadcast arrangement between discovery+, Eurosport and Kanal 9. Discovery Sports Events, the global FIM Speedway Grand Prix promoter, is bringing every race of the 2022 FIM Speedway GP season to viewers in Sweden however they choose to watch with live and on-demand coverage offered across streaming, pay TV and free-to-air channels and platforms. Alongside one of the largest libraries of real-life entertainment content, discovery+ becomes the new streaming home of the Speedway GP in Sweden with instant live racing available while stories of the riders are told through additional localised content throughout the season. In addition, real-time insights such as rider heartbeat, reaction time and trajectory analysis, and added views from 16 pit boxes will be presented for digital viewers so they can customise their viewing experience. Free-to-air coverage of three of the biggest Speedway GPs at Warsaw (14 May), Cardiff (13 August) and Målilla (17 September) will be available on Kanal 9 with highlights and added editorial content on Eurosport and live streaming through discovery+. The analysis and insights from the best local experts and former riders will complement the live action for fans throughout the season. There will be even more local interest for Swedish viewers with speedway ace Fredrik Lindgren one of 15 riders battling for glory throughout the season including at the highly-anticipated round in Målilla on 17 September. One of the sport’s all-time greats, six-time world champion for Sweden, Tony Rickardsson, will also take on the role of global ambassador for speedway to drive it to new heights. He will be focused on developing a new generation of riders as part of a new grassroots SGP4 series that will be coming to the screens of viewers in Sweden from the 2023 season.  François Ribeiro, Head of Discovery Sports Events, said: “Sweden has a proud speedway heritage and has produced some of the biggest legends of the sport, including our very own Tony Rickardsson, who will work to develop the sport for a new generation of riders in his role as global ambassador. “As well as a dedicated round in Målilla on 17 September, Swedish fans have more ways to enjoy the sport they love than ever before with the broadest access offered across all platforms including free-to-air race coverage on Kanal 9, additional highlights content through Eurosport and the best digital experience through discovery+ to ensure the 2022 season reaches the widest possible audience.” Tony Rickardsson, FIM Speedway global ambassador and six-time world champion, said: “To continue being heavily involved in speedway and to give viewers the chance to get as close as possible to the action feels fantastic. I am passionate about speedway after living it for my whole life and I believe that the sport can grow even further with the attention it deserves through the new partnership with Discovery Sports Events.  “I look forward to working with Discovery Sports Events to give something back to the sport I love and am excited to bring my experience of the track to a new generation of viewers everywhere.”   In 2022, all speedway categories will be unified under the new SGP brand and offered for localised coverage in Sweden including the SGP series (FIM Speedway Grand Prix), SGP2 (FIM Speedway U21 World Championship) and SGP3 (FIM Speedway U16 World Championship), with a new international entry-level SGP4 set to launch in the coming years. After the reformatted FIM Speedway of Nations (SON) takes place in 2022, next year will see the eagerly anticipated comeback of the FIM Speedway World Cup (SWC), returning to the international calendar for the first time since 2017. The 2022 FIM Speedway season, the first of ten seasons under new global promoter Discovery Sports Events, begins on 30 April with the FIM Speedway GP of Croatia.

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BERNTZON HANDED SPEEDWAY GP QUALIFIER SPOT

Swedish star Oliver Berntzon has been handed the chance to secure an FIM Speedway Grand Prix return for 2023. The 2021 Speedway GP rider has been granted one of national team manager Morgan Andersson’s nominations for the international qualifiers and will line up at Hungarian track Nagyhalasz on June 11. Last year’s FIM Speedway of Nations starters Jacob Thorssell and Pontus Aspgren will also compete at Slovak circuit Zarnovica on the same date, with Kim Nilsson heading to German venue Abensberg and Tomas H Jonasson racing in Debrecen, Hungary on June 6. The top three or four riders in each of these rounds will earn a place in the FIM GP Challenge at British track Glasgow on August 20, where the first three riders will secure their places in the 2023 Speedway GP series. Meanwhile, Berntzon will also head to Nagyhalasz on May 21 to race for a spot in the Speedway European Championship. Thorssell will do battle in the Debrecen SEC qualifier on May 7, while Aspgren and Filip Hjelmland compete in Stralsund, Germany on April 30. The top riders in these rounds earn a place in the SEC Challenge in Krsko, Slovenia on June 18.

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GOLDEN HELMET HAT-TRICK FOR ZMARZLIK

Double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik stormed to a 15-point maximum to win his third straight Golden Helmet title in Opole on Easter Monday. The prestigious event has previously been used as a qualifying competition for the FIM Speedway Grand Prix international qualifiers, but world title contender Zmarzlik is very unlikely to need a place in these. He stepped up his stellar start to 2022 by demolishing the competition, and he also claimed the Opole track record when he won heat nine in a rapid time of 59.39 seconds. Posting on Facebook, a delighted Zmarzlik wrote: “The third victory in a row in the Golden Helmet and also a track record! It was a very successful competition, and I thank my whole team for the work they did.” Zmarzlik triumphed ahead of Polish national team colleague Dominik Kubera, who boosted his Speedway GP qualification hopes for 2023 by finishing second on 13 points. Returning Speedway GP star Patryk Dudek was also on fine form, finishing third on 13. World No.4 Maciej Janowski fell just short of the podium with 10 points – a figure matched by former World Under-21 champion Bartosz Smektala. Gorzow’s former Polish champion Szymon Wozniak notched nine, while former Speedway GP rider Piotr Pawlicki and Gleb Chugunov raced to eight points apiece. Former FIM Czech Speedway GP winner Janusz Kolodziej scored seven, with Jaroslaw Hampel, Tobiasz Musielak and Kacper Woryna all recording six. Przemyslaw Pawlicki picked up four, Wiktor Lampart recorded three and World Under-21 champion Jakub Miskowiak managed only two. It was a tough day for FIM GP Challenge winner Pawel Przedpelski, who scored just one point. He will hope for better fortunes when he begins his World Championship campaign in the FIM Speedway GP of Croatia – Gorican on April 30 as a new era of FIM Speedway gets started.

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