NEW DANISH DEAL FOR MICHELSEN

Danish racer Mikkel Michelsen will lead Slangerup’s Metal Speedway League title quest after being confirmed as club captain for 2022. Michelsen has spent his entire Danish career with his boyhood team and helped Slangerup to third place in the Super Final last year. He will also compete in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series in 2022 after winning his second Speedway European Championship in July to seal automatic SGP qualification. Aside from his Danish league commitments, Michelsen will also represent Polish side Lublin after leading them to second place in the 2021 PGE Ekstraliga – the joint-best performance in the club’s history. Michelsen teams up with the likes of former SGP star Michael Jepsen Jensen, who will serve as Slangerup’s second category A rider. Andreas Lyager, Jonas Seifert-Salk, Kenneth Hansen, Silas Hoegh, William Drejer and Finnish young gun Timi Salonen are also in the squad. Slangerup team leader Kenni Hansen said: “We are extremely happy to have made deals with the same squad as last season, and to be able to continue with Danish A riders is absolutely ideal. “We've followed Mikkel all the way, and it's great to see what his fighting spirit, will and perseverance have led to so far. “We are super happy that he will continue in Slangerup, and look forward to another season with Mikkel as part of the squad. With Mikkel and the remaining riders for next year's squad, we believe we stand in good stead in relation to the club and the riders’ goals.”

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RUML ROARS TO SECOND STRAIGHT FIM NORTH AMERICA TITLE

American racer Max Ruml booked his place in the 2023 FIM Speedway Grand Prix qualifiers after retaining the FIM North America Championship at Perris in California on Saturday. The 2020 champion dropped just one point over five rides to top the podium on 14 in a meeting which decides the American entrants for the SGP World Championship qualifiers to be staged next summer. He is joined in the international rounds by American FIM Speedway of Nations star Luke Becker, who scored 13 to take second place, while international colleague Broc Nicol took the third and final berth in the SGP qualifiers on 12. But the night belonged to Ruml, who got the better of two riders that starred in Europe last summer. The former Edinburgh man raced to three straight victories, before being beaten to the chequered flag by Nicol in heat 16. But Ruml hit back with a win over former Wolves rider Chris Kerr in heat 19 to secure top spot and follow up his AMA National title win earlier this year. Becker will have started the night as favourite, having starred for the USA as they reached the Final Qualifier in Semi-Final 1 of this year’s SON. But Ruml got the better of him in his second outing, before USA under-21 rider Blake Borello defeated Greg Hancock’s protégée in their final ride. Nicol was also forced to battle for his place in the SGP qualifiers. Despite winning his opener, a second behind Dillon Ruml in heat seven and a third behind Becker and Kerr in race 10 threatened to dash his hopes. But Nicol responded with back-to-back wins, including his triumph over Max Ruml, to seal his shot at SGP qualification. Aaron Fox took fourth place on 11 – a score matched by Kerr – while Max’s younger brother Dillon raced to 10 points and sixth spot. Former Ipswich rider Gino Manzares notched nine and his qualification hopes ended in a heavy crash in heat 20, which saw him taken to hospital for checks. He was said to be feeling better the next day and was released after being kept in overnight for observation. On a night he defeated Becker, Borello showed his potential as he accrued eight points along with Alex Martin.

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BRENNAN BAGS BELLE VUE DEAL

FIM Speedway of Nations winner Tom Brennan returns to Manchester after securing a second season with Belle Vue in 2022. The 20-year-old played a key role in Great Britain landing their first world team title since 1989, when he served as their under-21 rider at the SON Final in October, scoring seven points and going unbeaten by an opponent on the National Speedway Stadium shale. Brennan was signed by the Aces as their rising star for 2021 and, after learning his trade on the tight and technical Eastbourne track, he was pleased to adapt to the fast and furious Manchester circuit. Now he’s targeting a place in the Aces top five next year. He said: “I’m very happy to have the opportunity to come back to Belle Vue for the 2022 season. I learned so much from my time with the club last year. Everyone from the management to the lads I was on track with gave me a lot of help and encouragement. “I was, admittedly, a little nervous about the National Speedway Stadium because it was so different to what I’m used to, but towards the end of the year things really stated to click. “It’s amazing to see all the supporters commenting on Facebook that they wanted to see me back at the club and that is a big relief for me, to be honest. “The Belle Vue fans have been very welcoming to me. It’s always nice to get along with the fans and to have their backing is very important. “I want to prove that the faith everyone has in me hasn’t been misplaced, and I would love to prove myself capable by moving out of reserve and into the main body of the team next season. I made a lot of progress in 2021. I want to be a more well-rounded rider and I feel I’m ready to challenge for one of the spots in the main one-to-five.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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MORRIS CROWNED QUEENSLAND CHAMPION

Aussie star Nick Morris clinched the Queensland State Championship at North Brisbane on Saturday. In a meeting promoted by former FIM Speedway Grand Prix favourite Darcy Ward, former FIM Speedway World Cup finalist Morris got the better of 2021 Wolves team mate Ryan Douglas on the first turn to triumph in the A Final after both men scored 12 points in their heats. Scunthorpe racer Zaine Kennedy dropped just one point to finish the heats on 14, but he was forced to fight off B Final winner Dave Watt for third place in the opening stages. Despite pushing hard on the run to the line, he was unable to relieve Douglas of second place. Watt retired from professional racing after the 2017 Australian SGP in Melbourne, but he rolled back the years, scoring 10 points in his heats. He then won the B Final ahead of former Plymouth rider Zane Keleher, Jacob Hook and Declan Kennedy. Keleher scored 11 points in the heats, falling just short of A Final qualification. This year’s Aussie state championships have added significance with the Australian Solo Championships and the FIM Oceania Championship cancelled due to the pandemic-related travel restrictions. State championship meetings offer riders the chance to secure UK visas by finishing in the top four. But with Morris a British passport holder, Douglas and Kennedy already certain of 2022 team places and Watt no longer competing in Europe, this year’s result will not offer any new stars their chance to race full-time in the UK. Photo: Taylor Lanning

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VACULIK ADDS BJARNE PEDERSEN TO SGP TEAM

Slovak star Martin Vaculik hailed double FIM Speedway World Cup winner Bjarne Pedersen a "world legend of speedway” after adding him to his FIM Speedway Grand Prix crew for 2022. Pedersen is no stranger to the SGP series, having won the 2004 European SGP in Wroclaw and raced full-time in the competition from 2003 to 2008, peaking at sixth place in the World Championship in 2005, before qualifying for one final season in 2012. The Dane also won two SWC gold medals with his country at Reading in 2006 and Vojens in 2008. He brought the curtain down on his racing career this year by playing a pivotal role in British club Peterborough’s charge to the SGB Premiership league title, as part of their iconic Dad’s Army team. Pedersen hinted at possible new roles in and out of the sport, and it appears Vaculik has won the race to recruit a man widely regarded as one of speedway’s ultimate professionals. Posting on Facebook, a delighted Vaculik confirmed: “I’m pleased to announce that my team is joined by the world legend of speedway, Bjarne Pedersen, who has finished his adventure with speedway, but will help me in the 2022 season. I’m very happy for this cooperation.” Pedersen is pleased to be teaming up with Gorzow star Vaculik, a former world No.5 who is bidding to bounce back from an injury-interrupted season in 2021. He said: “I can announce that I will be a part of Vaculik Racing Team in 2022. I am looking forward to getting started and sharing my experience and knowledge in the team. “Martin has had a strong team around him in 2021 and I look forward to making it even stronger around him in 2022.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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