HOLDER CLAIMS NSW STATE TITLE

FIM Speedway Grand Prix first reserve Jack Holder kicked off 2022 in fine style after lifting the New South Wales State Championship on Sunday. The Torun favourite topped the podium at Kurri Kurri, defeating Sam Masters, Josh Pickering and Ben Cook in the A Final. Holder raced to 12 points in the heats – a tally bettered by former Aussie champion Masters on 14 and Pickering on 13. All three riders earned automatic qualification for the A Final, with Ben Cook defeating Maurice Brown, Matthew Gilmore and Zach Cook in the B Final to complete the A Final line-up. Holder then got the verdict in his biggest meeting of an Aussie summer, which has seen the Australian Championship and FIM Oceania Championship cancelled due to Covid-19 travel restrictions Down Under. He could be in for a much busier European summer this year as he lines up for Torun in Poland and Sheffield in the SGB Premiership. He is also first in line for a SpeedwayGP call-up if any of the series regulars are forced out of a round due to injury, illness or other reasons. Holder’s triumph in the NSW Championship follows back-to-back title wins for Justin Sedgmen in the Victorian and South Australian State Championships in December. Sedgmen topped the SA podium in Gillman on December 28, beating Fraser Bowes, Brayden McGuinness and Zane Keleher in the A Final. This followed his Victorian title triumph on home track Mildura ahead of Jordan Stewart, James Pearson and Fraser Bowes on December 18. A top-four finish in an Australian state championship ensures riders qualify for a UK visa, if they do not have one already, although an increasing number of Aussie riders are now seeking team places in the Polish leagues. Photo: Taylor Lanning

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HANCOCK BACKS HARD-WORKING BECKER TO PROGRESS

Four-time world champion Greg Hancock believes his American protégée Luke Becker has the “work ethic” needed to succeed in the sport. Becker burst on to the scene at the 2016 FIM Speedway World Cup, when Hancock stepped down from the side to hand him his chance at the Race Off in Manchester, and Grin has followed his progress ever since. Becker has built himself a club career across Europe. He starred for Swedish side Dackarna during their Bauhaus Elitserien title-winning season in 2021, as well as helping Wolverhampton reach the SGB Premiership play-offs and scoring solidly for Polish First Division side Lodz. Becker also led the USA into the Final Qualifier in Semi-Final 1 of the FIM Speedway of Nations, scoring an impressive 21 points. With Hancock now retired from the shale, Becker is being tipped as the next American capable of making it on to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix stage. Hancock – a 21-time SpeedwayGP winner – certainly believes Becker’s work rate will take him far in the sport. He said: “Some riders materialise quicker than others, but Luke is a guy who is making steady progress. Knock on wood, he’s not getting injured, which is the name of the game. You have to be at every event you say you are going to be at. “He’s the kind of guy who is there and he works really, really hard. We have spent a lot of time with him. He wants it really badly. “Things don’t happen overnight; he is talented to a certain level, but his work ethic is even more than his talent. He works harder to be better and I think that’s going to pay dividends for him in the future.”

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LIDSEY EYES AUSSIE SON RETURN

Former World Under-21 champion Jaimon Lidsey is determined to fight his way back into Australian national side as a senior rider after experiencing the FIM Speedway of Nations as a junior. The Leszno and Vastervik star represented the Roos as their under-21 rider from 2018 until 2020, helping them win bronze at the 2019 SON Final in Togliatti. Lidsey was too old to occupy the junior spot in 2021. But with countries no longer required to select an under-21 and three senior spots up for grabs from 2022 onwards, Lidsey is hopeful of racing his way back into the side. He said: “Hopefully if I have a good year in 2022, I will be in one of those positions and racing for Australia again. I have raced for Australia for many years now as an under-21, but now I want to do it in a senior position.” Lidsey enjoyed a sensational 2020 season, winning the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship in Pardubice and helping Leszno to the PGE Ekstraliga championship. He admits he was unable to match that success in 2021. He said: “I struggled last year compared to 2020. I did very well that year and did better than everyone expected. Coming into last year, there was so much expectation and I had so much change in my personal life. It was so different. “But now I know what to expect and how to prepare for the years to come. Hopefully that was one of my worse years and we can only go up from here.” While Lidsey was making his mark in Europe in 2020, his partner Darcie was at home in Australia, where she gave birth to their son Eddie. The young family travelled to Poland together for 2021 and Darcie and Eddie even joined him at the FIM Awards in Monaco as the Victorian racer collected his 2020 World Under-21 gold medal and rubbed shoulders with a galaxy of motorcycling stars. Lidsey was delighted to have them by his side throughout 2022. He said: “That’s how it will be for many years to come. “It was tough in 2020, but we’re together now and they are with me every step of the way. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world; we are all together and that’s all that matters now. It makes life a bit easier.” Lidsey admits living on the other side of the world from their Aussie family and friends isn’t easy at times, so he hopes Covid-19 travel restrictions will ease as 2022 progresses and allow them to welcome more visitors from Down Under. He said: “It is difficult at times because we don’t have as many friends in Poland and there’s the language barrier and stuff like that. “It’s tough and no-one could travel over here last year because of Covid. My family and friends couldn’t come and visit. Hopefully this year my family can come and it would make the months go past so much quicker.”

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GET READY FOR SPEEDWAYGP 2022! PRAGUE, TETEROW & VOJENS TICKETS ON SALE NOW

Get 2022 started in style by securing your tickets for the FIM Speedway Grand Prix events in Prague, Teterow and Vojens now. Be part of a new era of racing when the FIM SpeedwayGP of the Czech Republic – Prague hits Marketa Stadium on Saturday, May 28. This year’s event is even bigger as the Czech capital will also stage FIM SGP2 of the Czech Republic – Prague, the first round of the newly-revamped World Under-21 Championship on Friday, May 27. Watch the sport’s stars of today and tomorrow over two nights of epic action at Marketa Stadium – tickets are available here now: https://bit.ly/3pDRuKa Germany welcomes the SpeedwayGP stars back a week later as the FIM SpeedwayGP of Germany – Teterow heads to the Bergring Arena on June 4. For the first time since 2019, Germany’s biggest speedway event is back as SpeedwayGP takes centre stage at a venue famous for its daredevil grasstrack. Teterow tickets are available online here now: https://bit.ly/3Jy2WyG Later in the year, the SpeedwayGP series returns to the legendary Vojens Speedway Center as it hosts the FIM SpeedwayGP of Denmark – Vojens on September 10. Be part of Denmark’s biggest night of speedway as the world title race approaches its climax and home heroes Leon Madsen, Anders Thomsen and Mikkel Michelsen fly the Danish flag. Vojens tickets are on sale here now: https://bit.ly/3qGmk40 Ticket news for the other SpeedwayGP rounds will be released in due course over the weeks and months ahead. Follow FIMSpeedway.com and the @SpeedwayGP accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all the latest ticket news. All of the SpeedwayGP events are scheduled to get underway at 19:00 local time, with the exception of the FIM Speedway of Great Britain – Cardiff on August 13, which starts at 17:00 UK time. Qualifying practice for the Principality Stadium event will be staged on Friday, August 12 at a time to be confirmed. Qualifying Practice for the other SpeedwayGP rounds is currently scheduled to take place at 13:00 local time on race day (Saturday). We look forward to seeing our fans at the 2022 FIM Speedway events and wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful and successful new year.

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ZMARZLIK'S SILVER LINING

Double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik insists he is more than happy with his FIM Speedway Grand Prix record, despite falling just short of making more history in 2021. The Gorzow star won an incredible five SpeedwayGP rounds this year, but this total was matched by Artem Laguta, who pipped him to the World Championship by three points. Despite being forced to make do with silver, Zmarzlik is rightly happy with his incredible start to life as a full-time SpeedwayGP rider, having won two gold medals, two silvers and one bronze since his first season in 2015. He said: “I am 26 years old and I have five World Championship medals. That’s really good. I have only been in the series for six years. I am very proud about this and this is my plan for the future in the GPs – to hopefully win more. “I am very happy about last season. That’s four years in the top two, so I think that is a good result for me. My results have not been up and down and this is important. Yes, I just lost out to Artem this season, but only by three points.” Zmarzlik admits missing out on the finals at the Prague double-header and at the penultimate round in Torun cost him dearly. He added: “Maybe one mistake less, maybe on the Friday in Torun or at the first two rounds in Prague, and I would have got there. But I am looking good ahead of next season – I am not thinking about what happened in 2021. It was still a good result.” Zmarzlik piled up an astonishing haul of 189 SpeedwayGP World Championship points – the fourth highest points tally in the series’ history. The record is held jointly by Swedish legend Tony Rickardsson and Danish icon Nicki Pedersen, who registered 196 in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Laguta’s 192 total this year puts him third on the list. In all but three of the past 27 SpeedwayGP seasons, Zmarzlik’s points total would have been enough to crown him world champion. He said: “This is good info for me because I didn’t know that before. I am really happy about what I am doing on the track.” SpeedwayGP favourite Zmarzlik has been nominated for the prestigious Przeglad Sportowy Polish Athlete of 2021 prize – and he needs your votes to take the prize! To vote for Zmarzlik, visit https://plebiscyt.przegladsportowy.pl/ – voting closes at 12:00 CET (11am UK) on December 31.

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