ACES NO.1 FRICKE SETS HIS SIGHTS ON PREMIERSHIP TITLE

FIM Speedway Grand Prix star Max Fricke set his sights on ending Belle Vue’s league title drought after sealing a return to the Aces for 2022. The double Aussie champion is back in the SGB Premiership after his Polish club Zielona Gora were relegated from the PGE Ekstraliga. With Falubaz now in the First Division, Poland’s rules allow Fricke to race in two other leagues, and he will line up in Manchester, as well as competing for Swedish team Indianerna. Fricke became a huge favourite among Belle Vue fans during his previous five-season stint with the club from 2015 to 2019. The Victorian racer can’t wait for what’s set to be a busy 2022 season, and he would love to mark his Aces return by leading one of British speedway’s most famous clubs to their first league title since 1993. After being unveiled to the Belle Vue fans at the club’s Christmas Cracker event, Fricke said: “My schedule for next year, even with the Grand Prix series, has opened up to give me the opportunity to return to the UK. “My first thought was Belle Vue for many reasons and if the reaction of the fans at the Christmas Cracker is any indication, I think I’ve made the right choice. “It is amazing to be back in Manchester with the Aces again. I’m somebody who likes to keep busy and this fits in perfectly with my commitment for next year. “We’ve only confirmed two names so far, with myself and Charles [Wright] but there is an exciting vibe coming from the club already for 2022. “I’m really excited about the team that Mark [Lemon] is putting together and hopefully it can be this team who can take that final step to win Belle Vue the Premiership title.”

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MASTERS PENS NEW WOLVES DEAL

Former Aussie champion Sam Masters has extended his stay with Wolverhampton into 2022 and insisted “I wouldn’t want to ride for another club in the Premiership.” Masters joins forces with fellow Aussie star Ryan Douglas and British duo Drew Kemp and Leon Flint. The Newcastle-born racer’s return is one of the least surprising British signings of the winter as he continues his career with a club where he won the SGB Premiership title in his Wolves debut season in 2016. A delighted Masters said: “I’m really excited to be back at Wolves. I wouldn’t want to ride for another club in the Premiership. I love the club fans and track there. We agreed terms pretty quickly and I can’t wait to have another go at winning the league. “Everything about the place is so professional. The management treat you well and the fans always get behind the riders. “It’s another place that’s like home to us now and we are settled in the area, so I can’t see any reason to leave. “I had a good season personally and would like to build on that next season and hopefully help the club win the league again.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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SWEDISH SWITCH FOR SMOLINSKI

German racer Martin Smolinski is on the move in Sweden after signing for Bauhaus Elitserien side Vetlanda. The former FIM Speedway Grand Prix star makes the move from Masarna after spending the 2021 season in Avesta. Smolinski joins the likes of SGP newcomer Pawel Przedpelski, Tomasz Gapinski, Sergey Logachev and Filip Hjelmland at Vetlanda – a club which has seen double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik and his compatriot Dominik Kubera depart this winter. Bavarian ace Smolinski is looking forward to his new challenge. Posting on his official Facebook page, he wrote: “I had a very difficult decision for a very long time, because I had a very nice time in Masarna, but the move to Vetlanda was equally attractive and so I decided to change. “I want to say thanks very much to the club and also the fans in Masarna and I would like to come to Masarna again and again. “But for me, the new task in Vetlanda presents a new challenge and I am looking forward to the new season.” Smolinski will also compete in the Polish First Division for German club Landshut. The Bavarian team defied heavy Covid-19 restrictions, starting their 2021 season behind closed doors, to pull off an astonishing Second Division play-off win in their debut season in the Polish leagues. Landshut skipper Smolinski will team up with the likes of fellow German internationals Kai Huckenbeck and Erik Riss in 2022, with under-24 rider Mads Hansen an exciting edition to the side after winning FIM Speedway of Nations bronze with Denmark.

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NEW COMPETITIONS IN BRITAIN'S TOP FLIGHT

SGB Premiership clubs will contest two extra competitions, while Birmingham Brummies will race on in the SGB Championship in 2022. British Speedway Promoters Limited released a round-up of the decisions ratified at today’s annual meeting and confirmed six teams will contest Britain’s top flight – champions Peterborough, Belle Vue, Ipswich, King’s Lynn, Sheffield and Wolverhampton. The clubs have already started unveiling their riders, with teams built to a combined average limit of 39 points for six riders – plus one Rising Star, selected from a list of Brits. Each club will also name a young rider at No.8. As well as racing each other home and away twice for a total of 20 matches each, the top four teams will face off in the play-offs. SGB Premiership action will be televised regularly on Eurosport in the UK. The clubs will also enter a cup competition and stage an SGB Premiership Pairs series, which will see a round take place at every track. This is to increase the number of competitive fixtures for the clubs. The SGB Championship will feature 11 sides, including champions Poole, Berwick, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Oxford, Newcastle, Plymouth, Redcar and Scunthorpe. Oxford return to racing for the first time since 2007, while Birmingham’s survival has been confirmed after a consortium led by Nigel Tolley purchased the club from previous promoters David and Peter Mason. The Kent Kings are unable to come to the tapes following Len Silver’s retirement. The second-tier teams will race each other once home and away for a total of 20 matches apiece, with the top six entering the play-offs once again. The Knockout Cup will be staged along with “an extra summer tournament featuring a group system with the final to be staged at a neutral venue.” The SGB Championship team-building point limit has been set at a combined total of 42 points for all seven riders. The clubs in the second tier have dropped the Rising Star scheme launched for 2021. The SGB Championship Best Pairs is back for 2022 and will be staged at a venue to be confirmed on August 12 – the night before the British SGP at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on August 13. The British SGP 2 round, featuring the sport’s under-21 riders, takes place on August 14 to round off an epic weekend of action in the UK. The Championship Riders Championship is also set to be staged for the first time since 2019. British Speedway bosses are also expected to reveal further details about an expanded National Development League – the UK’s third tier – next week. Poole co-promoter Danny Ford has been elevated on to the BSPL’s board of directors, following in the footsteps of his father Matt, who previously served as BSPA vice-chairman. He joins chairman Rob Godfrey of Scunthorpe, current vice-chairman Damien Bates of Sheffield and fellow director Chris Louis of Ipswich. Godfrey paid tribute to everyone who has helped the sport overcome the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years. He said: “British Speedway has battled through some huge challenges over the last two years and as a group we are all very much looking forward to next year and beyond. “Despite everything thrown at the sport, there are some extremely positive aspects of it. “The Premiership has extremely stable clubs run by astute promoters and owners and the Championship product is enhanced by the presence of Birmingham and, of course, the return of Oxford which we are delighted about. “The new competitions in both leagues give everyone more speedway to enjoy and we hope they will be well supported. “Once again we would like to thank everyone who has remained so loyal to British Speedway through some particularly difficult times and we look forward to taking the sport forward in the coming years.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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PRZEDPELSKI'S TRAVEL TEST

Polish racer Pawel Przedpelski insists getting his travelling schedule right will be vital as he makes his full-time FIM Speedway Grand Prix debut in 2022. The Torun hero won the 2021 GP Challenge in Zarnovica, Slovakia to book his place in the SGP World Championship for the first time. While Przedpelski has made wild-card appearances in his home city Torun, racing a full season against the sport’s biggest stars is a much tougher challenge. It’s one Przedpelski appears ready to take on after a sensational 2021 season in Poland’s PGE Ekstraliga, and riders in the world’s biggest speedway league are already well equipped in terms of their back-up crews and machinery. But Przedpelski makes no secret of the fact he will have to plan the logistical side of 2022 well to ensure everything runs smoothly on and off the track. He told Przeglad Sportowy: “It's going to be a really demanding season, so I'm starting my preparations now. “There will be a lot of flights and long trips, so you have to plan it well in advance. There will be no time for this during the season. Logistics is the biggest challenge at the moment.” Przedpelski insists he’s happy with his preparations going into 2022. While he won’t be hiring an SGP manager, as some riders choose to do, he may recruit one additional mechanic. He said: “When it comes to physical and mental preparation, I do not expect any changes. “At the moment, I am also not planning to hire an additional advisor only for GP tournaments. “The possible strengthening of my mechanical team remains an open issue. The two existing mechanics will definitely stay, but maybe we will also think about bringing in someone additional to help.”

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