LAMBERT'S SWEDISH SWITCH

Great Britain racer Robert Lambert hopes a switch to Swedish side Smederna can help him roar into top form in the Bauhaus Elitserien this year. Lambert makes the move from Lejonen, where he topped the league’s average charts during the shortened 2020 season. But this term he will be lining up for last year’s beaten play-off finalists Smederna, who roared to three straight Elitserien titles between 2017 and 2019. The FIM Speedway of Nations winner joins up with Great Britain team mate Dan Bewley, who partnered him to gold in Manchester last October. And Lambert hopes the move from Gislaved to Eskilstuna will bring the best out of him in 2022. He said: “I have switched clubs in Sweden. It’s a change that I think was needed. Things started to get a little bit stagnant in Lejonen, even though I was getting great results. “It was time for a change. Eskilstuna is always a track I have liked. It’s pretty grippy and it’s a great shape as well. That suits my style. “I think we are going to do well there too. They have a nice team there and we have Dan Bewley. If they get me and him team riding together, we will get plenty of 5-1s.” Lambert and Bewley link up with the likes of Swedish star Pontus Aspgren, Michael Jepsen Jensen, Kacper Woryna, Grzegorz Zengota and Matic Ivacic. It’s a squad Lambert is delighted to be part of, and he hints his new Swedish deal has been a long time in the making. He said: “They know what it takes and they know how to build a team. I have been speaking to them for the last five years about riding for the club, but we never cracked a deal. But after the season I had, maybe it persuaded them to get the deal done, and here I am.”

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SLOVENIA'S IVACIC HANDED SMEDERNA SPOT

Two-time Slovenian champion Matic Ivacic has been handed a golden opportunity in Sweden’s Bauhaus Elitserien with Smederna for 2022. Ivacic has raced in Sweden at Allsvenskan League level, but will now step into the top division with the Eskilstuna outfit. While Ivacic will initially serve as a back-up rider, his place in the squad comes as a huge boost to Slovenian speedway. Ivacic and FIM Speedway of Nations team mates Nick Skorja and Anze Grmek are all bidding to follow national icon Matej Zagar in establishing themselves in Europe’s top leagues. The Smederna deal sees Ivacic team up with the likes of FIM Speedway Grand Prix star Robert Lambert and his FIM SON gold medal-winning team mate Dan Bewley, plus Pontus Aspgren, Michael Jepsen Jensen, Kacper Woryna and Grzegorz Zengota. Team boss Jerker Eriksson said: “We have had several talks with established riders but unfortunately have not agreed financially. “There is also uncertainty about Russian riders due to what is going on in Europe. With this in mind, we have chosen to sign Matic as a backup to our squad and we will wait until the season starts.” Elsewhere, Swedish youngster Aleks Lundquist has extended his stay with 2020 Bauhaus Elitserien champions Masarna. He links up with the likes of Swedish FIM SON hero Philip Hellstrom-Bangs, Przemyslaw Pawlicki, Rohan Tungate, Krzysztof Buczkowski, Francis Gusts, Adrian Gala and Max Dilger.

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WOFFINDEN JOINS PETER CRAVEN MEMORIAL LINE-UP

Triple world champion Tai Woffinden will warm up for the 2022 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series with a trip to Manchester for the Peter Craven Memorial meeting on March 21. Woffinden was part of the Great Britain side that ended Lions’ wait for a first world team title since 1989, and he is joined at the National Speedway Stadium by gold medal-winning colleagues Robert Lambert, Dan Bewley and Tom Brennan for Belle Vue’s opening night. The Aces have also confirmed that their 2022 No.1 Max Fricke will also take part, along with his Speedway GP rival Jason Doyle. The likes of former world No.3 Niels-Kristian Iversen, ex-Belle Vue hero Matej Zagar and British champion Adam Ellis also come to the tapes, plus Brady Kurtz, Nicolai Klindt, Tobiasz Musielak, Chris Harris, Charles Wright and Norick Blodorn. Woffinden is delighted to be making a rare appearance in front of the British fans. He said: “I’m really excited to be able to get back on a bike in Manchester. It’s a place I really love to race and I’ve never taken part in this event before. “This meeting means a lot to Belle Vue and for me it’s all about going out and wanting to give something back to all the British fans who have been so supportive. “These last two years have been very hard for everyone with Covid, and apart from the British GP this will be the only time British supporters will be able to see me race. “Looking at the field that has been put together, I think it will be a fantastic meeting and we look forward to an enjoyable night of racing.” Aside from his Speedway GP commitments, Woffinden will line up for Polish champions Wroclaw, as well as FIM SON host club Esbjerg in Denmark.

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GODFREY HITS BACK AT BEWLEY SIGNING CLAIMS

British Speedway chairman Rob Godfrey hit back at suggestions from Dan Bewley that he was blocked from returning to Belle Vue. Ahead of the 2021 season, Polish PGE Ekstraliga clubs limited its riders to racing in just one other league, while First and Second Division stars could enter up to two other leagues. Manchester club Belle Vue is the only top-flight UK team yet to declare a full one-to-seven for 2022 and Bewley posted that a bid to bring him into the Aces side was halted by rival clubs. The Cumbrian made the comments – which appear to have been deleted – in response to a fan on Instagram, who was unhappy with his decision to race in Poland and Sweden. Speaking about competing in the UK, he replied: “I actually wanted to and could have, but three clubs in the UK ruled against it. It’s a shame, not just for me but for the other clubs in the Premiership. Thinking too much about their own success and not for the sport.” It is unclear whether the Polish restrictions have been or will be relaxed, or whether the Aces sought special dispensation for Bewley to race in Manchester from the Ekstraliga authorities. The BSPL released a statement this evening, refuting claims that they "blocked any rider signing for a club because the rule has been changed", without naming a rider or team. But Godfrey confirmed he is keen to re-open talks with other national federations to increase the availability of riders for 2023. He said: “I think it’s important to clarify where we are at with the situation after some incorrect claims I have seen on social media – some of which have been prompted by a rider. “Over several months, representatives of the various federations have been in dialogue regarding the ruling and agreement has been reached to restart these discussions from the summer onwards with 2023 in mind. “I sincerely hope positive discussions can continue which result in more riders becoming available to Premiership clubs in British Speedway next year. “Anyone who suggests Premiership clubs have blocked any rider signing for a club because the rule has been changed is completely incorrect. “That said, I’m hoping things will work out for all parties concerned, and I believe they can, for 2023 and the Premiership can see more riders returning.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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FREDDIE FIGHTS BACK AFTER LONG COVID BATTLE

Swedish star Freddie Lindgren says his lungs have recovered following his protracted battle with long Covid that ended his 2021 season early. The Orebro-born man picked up a coronavirus infection in the early stages of the pandemic in March 2020 and admits the disease took its toll on him. Despite that, he still picked up FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship bronze in 2020 – only missing out on silver after a run-off with Tai Woffinden when they tied on points. He then finished fifth in 2021. But Lindgren was forced to end last season prematurely as the effects of his battle with long Covid got the better of him, forcing him to withdraw from the FIM Speedway of Nations Final in Manchester last October. Speaking to Polish club Czestochowa’s official website, Lindgren confirmed his condition has improved. He said: “Everything is fine now. Few people know that I have been struggling with health problems for a long time. “In March 2020, I fell very seriously ill for the first time and suffered lung damage as a result. “A few months ago, I had a health check up and tests showed that my lungs finally healed. “The blood results were still not the best. I was advised to consume special supplements that helped me recover. I've been training hard again for some time. I have scheduled another appointment with my doctor before the season starts to make sure everything is going in the right direction.” Lindgren’s recovery comes as a timely boost to his country with Fast Freddie serving as the only Swedish rider in the 2022 Speedway GP series. He will also be lining up for Czestochowa in Poland’s PGE Ekstraliga, where he joins forces with Speedway GP rival Leon Madsen. And he will ride for Bauhaus Elitserien outfit Vastervik in his homeland, after being tempted back to Sweden in 2021 by team manager Morgan Andersson, who also serves as national boss.

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