LEMON CALLS FOR SON SELECTION HEADACHE

Australian team manager Mark Lemon is calling on his riders to give him a selection headache as he picks three senior stars for the FIM Speedway of Nations in Esbjerg from July 27-30. Countries previously had to name two seniors and one under-21 reserve rider in their FIM SON starting line-ups. The junior was also required to feature in at least one of their team’s races. But the under-21s now line up in their own event, SON2 – the revamped FIM Team Speedway Under-21 World Championship, which also takes place in Esbjerg on Friday, July 29. As a result of these changes, Lemon and fellow national bosses can now pick an extra senior star. The No.3 reserve rider no longer has to take a ride, but they could play a key role in their country’s title hopes if called into action. With the chance to pick his strongest trio guaranteed, Lemon is urging his riders to make his team selection as tough as possible. He said: “They have dropped the under-21 rule for the SON. I was never really keen on that. “I appreciate the benefits the young kids got from being in the competition. But when it’s a world championship, you should be able to choose your top three. I am really looking forward to that concept. “Esbjerg is a great race track. It’s going to be a pretty tough meeting – it is a world championship. I hope I have a really tough decision to choose my top three because you want your boys on form, and it’s all about timing.” Lemon is delighted to be taking both the Aussie seniors and juniors with him to Esbjerg. He added: “I think it’s quite exciting, especially with SON2 on the Friday night. We will have the whole team there and the young kids can gain experience.” It’s 20 years since the Roos last lifted a world team title, topping the podium at the 2002 FIM Speedway World Cup Final in Peterborough. It’s a wait Lemon would love to end in Denmark. He said: “We are certainly long overdue success in that event and I don’t see any reason why our boys can’t lift the world championship. “They have the talent, the pedigree and as long as they adapt and apply themselves and show commitment and heart, there’s no reason why we can’t become world champions. “I want to thank CBS Bins for their support of Team Australia. They have been with us for five years I think now. They are a very valued sponsor for us.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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LAMBERT: STEPPING UP

Great Britain ace Robert Lambert admits the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series is “definitely a step up” from Poland’s PGE Ekstraliga. Lambert earned his full-time Speedway GP debut last year as winner of the 2020 Speedway European Championship. The Norfolk-born racer claimed 10th place in the final 2021 Speedway GP standings, reaching five semi-finals along the way, before crowning the campaign by leading GB to FIM Speedway of Nations gold in Manchester. Lambert is determined to build on that historic season in what will be his second full term in the Speedway GP World Championship, added to the 2019 season when he served as series first reserve. The Torun racer has been competing with the best riders in the world regularly for several years now, and has ridden in the PGE Ekstraliga since 2019 – previously representing Lublin and Rybnik. While racing in the world’s biggest speedway league in Poland will have certainly helped to prepare Lambert for Speedway GP life, he admits lining up on the sport’s top stage is another level entirely. He said: “I thought the Ekstraliga was high-pressure. But the Grand Prix is definitely a step up from that. “When you are so focused and involved with it as much as I want to be with the drive and determination I have, the intensity is double that of the Ekstraliga. You go to Poland the day after and it is a breeze by comparison. “Last year was a learning year. It was something different to just being the reserve and just coming in and doing a few meetings. Being a fully-fledged rider in the GPs was a different feeling. But I learned a lot of stuff last season that I can put into this coming season.” Lambert will also race in Sweden’s Bauhaus Elitserien, where he will compete for Eskilstuna club Smederna, joining forces with his FIM SON-winning team mate Dan Bewley.

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MADSEN: KNEE INJURY WON'T SLOW ME DOWN

Danish racer Leon Madsen insists a niggling knee injury won’t slow his preparations for the 2022 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series. The Czestochowa and Brovst star finished seventh in the 2021 Speedway GP World Championship in a season that was badly hampered by stretched knee ligaments, suffered in a crash at the Speedway European Championship round in Bydgoszcz in June. Madsen ended the year on a high by bagging 38 points over two days of the FIM Speedway of Nations Final in Manchester – a score matched only by Poland’s Bartosz Zmarzlik. The former world No.2 admits he took some time off after winning bronze with his country at the National Speedway Stadium. While he admits he can still feel the knee injury, Madsen won’t allow it to get in the way of his 2022 build-up. He said: “I relaxed for some time after Manchester because I had been flat-out for a few years since I won the European Championship in 2018. I really needed to take a break and charge the batteries. That was nice. “But now I am back at full speed, training every day and feeling good. I feel back in shape and I will soon be ready for the new season. “To be honest, I am still struggling with the knee. It takes some time to get over the injury and I know I am going to feel the injury this year also. “It is slowly getting better and better. I am just not over it yet though; it is really annoying. There is not much I can do; I have to train and get ready for the new season. The injury takes the time it needs unfortunately. “The thing is, at this stage, I have to push hard and do a lot of training. It is not ideal for the knee. But I have to do it to get ready for the season. It will prolong the recovery of the knee, but that’s something I just have to accept.” Madsen admits it’s not a problem that can be fixed by surgery. He explained: “It’s just the ligaments inside the knee. They are a little bit stretched, so it’s not really something you can operate on. I also have a little bit of fluid on the knee. “It is very painful at some moments and at others it hurts a bit less. It goes up and down. I think it should be okay as long as I don’t have any new twists on it or any bad crashes.”

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FINAL CHARGE FOR LAMBERT?

Great Britain racer Robert Lambert believes he is “definitely capable” of reaching his first FIM Speedway Grand Prix final in 2022. The Norfolk ace enjoyed a season to remember in 2021 as he inspired his country to FIM Speedway of Nations gold – GB’s first world team title since they lifted the World Team Cup at Bradford in 1989. He also made his full-time Speedway GP debut, reaching five semi-finals from a possible 11 and finishing 10th in the standings. Despite ending last year with three straight semi-final appearances, Lambert is still awaiting his first Speedway GP final outing. Asked if he feels it will come this year, he said: “I am definitely capable of doing it. It should have happened last season, but we made a few mistakes.  That’s how you learn. We are going to put that experience and knowledge into this season. “As people will have seen in the last three GPs, my performance was much better and as long as we start how we finished, it should be a good season.” Despite having an FIM SON gold medal to celebrate, Lambert kicked his 2022 plans into top gear as soon as last term ended. And he’s determined to be even more prepared for his second Speedway GP season. He said: “As soon as last season was finished – and even before – we were getting things moving and trying to go one up on last year’s preparations. Everything is definitely on track and it’s further forwards than it was last year. “In myself, I feel much better and much more confident going into this season. I am just waiting for the weather to break to get on track because everything is ready to go. “I proved my worth in the GPs last year, so now it’s time to show the reasons why I’m there and show that I was worthy of the wild card.”

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WARSAW | 2022 SPEEDWAY GP GUIDE

As the countdown continues to the 2022 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series, FIMSpeeedway.com looks ahead to the action – next up, we feature the FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw. The iconic PGE Narodowy makes a blockbuster return to the Speedway GP calendar on May 14 as over 50,000 fans from across the globe reunite at Poland’s national stadium to celebrate one of the country’s favourite sports. PGE Narodowy was built for the UEFA Euro 2012 football championships, but Speedway GP takes the decibel level to whole new level, with the action protected from the weather by the stadium’s famous roof. Triple world champion Tai Woffinden has been the most successful rider in Warsaw, topping the podium there twice in 2016 and 2018, with Sweden’s Fredrik Lindgren (2017) and Slovenian star Matej Zagar (2015) also triumphant. Danish ace Leon Madsen won the last FIM Warsaw Speedway GP on May 18, 2019. Despite not taking victory in any of his first six heats on what was his full-time World Championship debut, Madsen won the race that mattered most. He took the chequered flag in the final ahead of Lindgren, Patryk Dudek and Niels-Kristian Iversen to launch his charge towards Speedway GP silver in the final standings. Aside from the action on the track, there is always plenty of entertainment in the PGE Narodowy fanzone as we build up to the evening’s racing. And don’t forget to take in Poland’s lively capital city! No visit to Warsaw is complete without a wander through the old town and Castle Square. The Palace of Culture and Science is a must-see, featuring a viewing deck on the 30th floor, which offers panoramic views of Warsaw and is the city’s most visited tourist attraction. Łazienki Królewskie is a stunning palace and park – a popular spot for the locals and a great place to spend the Sunday afternoon as you wind down after the racing. Alternatively, enjoy Warsaw’s huge array of shops, bars and restaurants before and after the ultimate night of Speedway GP at PGE Narodowy. Tickets for the FIM Warsaw Speedway GP are not currently on sale, with many tickets rolled over from the cancelled 2020 and 2021 events. But visit FIMSpeedway.com and @SpeedwayGP social media for news on any further ticket sales as the event approaches. For more details about the FIM Warsaw Speedway GP, click here: https://bit.ly/3sOsksC

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