GUSTS: TIME ON MY SIDE IN SGP2

Latvian shooting star Francis Gusts insists he has time on his side in his quest to land the SGP2 title after going fastest in Prague FIM SGP2 of Czech Republic practice this afternoon. Gusts qualified for SGP2 – the revamped FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship – by winning his qualifier at Slovenian track Krsko on 14 points on May 7. And he brought that momentum to Marketa Stadium this afternoon as he clocked the fastest lap time, 15.078 seconds. His nearest rival was Poland’s Wiktor Przyjemski on 15.259 seconds, while flying Finn Timi Salonen registered 15.271 seconds and defending champion Jakub Miskowiak’s best time was 15.272 seconds as he took fourth place. Czech racer Jan Kvech was fifth on 15.280 seconds. For some of the SGP2 class of 2022, it is their last chance to lift the trophy as they will be too old to compete in the series next year. But with Gusts not celebrating his 21st birthday until February 1, 2024, he insisted: “I have some time. I am 19 years old, so in this competition I can do two more years.” Asked his goals for SGP2 this season, Gusts replied: “I hope I will finish without any crashes. Then we will see. “I will not be very sad if I lose, but of course everyone comes here to win and do their best. And I will try to do my best.” The FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship has been taken under the SGP banner by new FIM Speedway global promoter Discovery Sports Events, and rebranded as SGP2. With the under-21 stars sharing the same stage the Speedway GP riders will grace on Saturday night, Gusts is excited to be part of the action. “It’s completely different,” he said. “I have never been in an event like this. I am pretty happy that I qualified to be here and I am enjoying this event. We will have some interesting racing tonight.” Gusts is no stranger to racing in top events, having served as Latvia’s reserve rider in the FIM Speedway of Nations Final in Manchester last season. It was the country’s first-ever world final, but the youngster admits flying the Latvian flag alone in an individual event is a different challenge to being the standby man in a team meeting. “I had one heat,” he smiled. “For me, this is a tougher challenge – I am racing alone.”   PRAGUE FIM SGP2 OF CZECH REPUBLIC PRACTICE TIMES: Francis Gusts (Latvia) 15.078 Wiktor Przyjemski (Poland) 15.259 Timi Salonen (Finland) 15.271 Jakub Miskowiak (Poland) 15.272 Jan Kvech (Czech Republic) 15.280 Mateusz Cierniak (Poland) 15.339 Wiktor Lampart (Poland) 15.375 Mateusz Swidnicki (Poland) 15.376 Benjamin Basso (Denmark) 15.431 Daniel Klima (Czech Republic) 15.486 Gustav Grahn (Sweden) 15.575 Kevin Juhl Pedersen (Denmark) 15.601 Casper Henriksson (Sweden) 15.613 Petr Chlupac (Czech Republic) 15.616 Jonas Knudsen (Denmark) 15.821 Celina Liebmann (Germany) 15.916 Matous Kamenik (Czech Republic) 16.088 Bruno Belan (Czech Republic) 16.265

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GERMAN RACER LIEBMANN SET TO BECOME FIM SPEEDWAY’S FIRST FEMALE STAR

German history-maker Celina Liebmann says she relishes the challenge of competing in a male-dominated sport as she becomes the first female rider to race in an FIM Speedway final series. Liebmann, 20, has been handed the wild card for the Prague FIM SGP2 of Czech Republic at Marketa Stadium this Friday and cannot wait to take on the sport’s brightest young stars in the newly-revamped FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship. In a new era of FIM Speedway under new global promoter Discovery Sports Events, the championship has been rebranded as SGP2 and takes place on the same stage as the Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic on Saturday. If staging the first-ever SGP2 round was not historic enough for the Prague club, they were also keen to give Liebmann the biggest chance of her career to date, inviting her to serve as their wild card. The Bavarian, who hails from Albaching – 50km east of Munich, scored a very solid six points at her SGP2 qualifier in Daugavpils, Latvia on May 7, beating a host of riders who race in Europe’s top leagues. Liebmann also competed in the Polish Second Division with Wittstock last season and races regularly in Germany’s many competitions. She no fears about testing herself against the SGP2 stars in the Czech capital. “I know all these guys and I have raced against all of them on the 250cc bikes,” she said. “I am really motivated for Prague. I am really looking forward to it. “When I heard the news about my call-up, I was shocked. I was completely over the moon. I never thought I would get the wild card. “My mum had bought tickets for a concert for me and her that weekend, but now I am going to Prague instead and it’s the biggest chance I have ever had.” Speedway lacks high-profile female-only events, but that hasn’t deterred Liebmann from mixing it with the sport’s male stars. “Maybe a women’s race sometimes would be nice,” she said. “But I want to race against boys. I can improve myself much more.” No female stars have reached such heights in the sport and a big performance in Prague will further cement Liebmann’s status as the First Lady of world speedway. “I have always wanted to be the No.1 girl in the world,” she said. “I see myself as the No.1 girl – I don’t know any others who have achieved the success I have. At the moment, I want to go as high as I can reach and do my best.” Despite her ambition, Liebmann is determined to enjoy the experience of racing in such illustrious company this Friday and pledged not to let the occasion get the better of her. She said: “I am always relaxed on the track and also on World Championship days. I am excited now, but on the day I will be relaxed. I will just listen to my favourite music and have fun with my friends. I want to have fun on the track. If I have fun, I score points.” Celina is the daughter of former German ice speedway international Jurgen Liebmann, who won FIM Team Ice Speedway World Championship bronze medals in 2001 and 2003. While she was only two years old when he retired from the ice, Celina admits it was her father who guided her on to the speedway stage as she took her first laps at Bavarian club Olching. She said: “My dad said ‘come, we will go to Olching and you can see the juniors’, and they said I could ride. I got on a bike and rode. I did it and my dad has since said ‘I never thought you’d ride for so long and be so successful.’ He is really proud.” François Ribeiro, head of Discovery Sports Events, is delighted to see Liebmann handed the chance of a lifetime as the group works to raise the profile of the sport’s young stars and give them more opportunities to shine on some of speedway’s biggest stages. He said: “We were already hugely excited for the first-ever SGP2 round and our excitement has only grown with the news that Celina will be racing in Prague. “With a fine performance in the qualifying rounds and in her league competitions, this opportunity is well deserved and we all look forward to seeing her race at one of the sport’s most iconic venues. “I wish Celina and her SGP2 rivals the very best of luck this Friday and we cannot wait to see the next generation of Speedway GP riders on track. “This season sees Discovery take the FIM Speedway Under-21 and Under-16 World Championships under the SGP umbrella for the very first time as SGP2 and SGP3. We also look forward to the launch of SGP4 in 2023 as six-time world champion and SGP global ambassador Tony Rickardsson develops a new bike and category to introduce our youngest riders to the sport.”

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SGP2 FIM SPEEDWAY UNDER-21 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP LINE-UP CONFIRMED

The full SGP2 line-up has been revealed as 15 riders go for world-title glory over three rounds in the revamped FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship series. As part of its 10-year vision for FIM Speedway, new global promoter Discovery Sports Events has taken the sport’s junior championships under its umbrella, with SGP2 events for under-21 riders and SGP3 for under-16s staged on the same weekend as FIM Speedway Grand Prix rounds – putting the sport’s brightest young stars on the same stage as the world’s best riders. The opening round of SGP2 takes place at Prague’s Marketa Stadium on Friday, May 27 – the night before the FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic. Round two is the FIM SGP2 of Great Britain, which will be staged at Cardiff’s iconic Principality Stadium on Sunday, August 14 – the day after the FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain. The series then concludes with the FIM SGP2 of Poland at Torun’s Marian Rose Motoarena on September 30 – the night before the FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Torun. The 15-rider SGP2 line-up for 2022 features under-21s from Poland (5), Czech Republic (3), Denmark (3), Sweden (2), Latvia (1) and Finland (1). Twelve riders booked their places in SGP2 at the qualifying rounds staged across Europe last Saturday. Jan Kvech (Czech Republic), Casper Henriksson (Sweden), Jakub Miskowiak (Poland) and Wiktor Przyjemski (Poland) all made it through the event at Swedish track Gislaved. Kevin Juhl Pedersen (Denmark), Daniel Klima (Czech Republic), Mateusz Cierniak (Poland) and Wiktor Lampart (Poland) all qualified from the round at Latvian venue Daugavpils. And Francis Gusts (Latvia), Mateusz Swidnicki (Poland), Jonas Knudsen (Denmark) and Petr Chlupac (Czech Republic) all booked their places at former Slovenian SGP venue Krsko. The series line up is completed by three permanent wild cards – Timi Salonen (Finland), Benjamin Basso (Denmark) and Gustav Grahn (Sweden). Great Britain racer Tom Brennan heads the list of SGP2 substitute riders and he is joined by Keynan Rew (Australia), Norick Blodorn (Germany), Ernest Matjusonoks (Latvia) and Carlos Eber Ampugnani (Argentina).   SGP2 LINE-UP (WITH RIDER NUMBERS): 196 Kevin Juhl Pedersen (Denmark) 2 Francis Gusts (Latvia) 201 Jan Kvěch (Czech Republic) 717 Daniel Klíma (Czech Republic) 43 Casper Henriksson (Sweden) 108 Mateusz Swidnicki (Poland) 842 Mateusz Cierniak (Poland) 515 Jakub Miśkowiak (Poland) 408 Jonas Knudsen (Denmark) 47 Wiktor Lampart (Poland) 505 Wiktor Przyjemski (Poland) 44 Petr Chlupac (Czech Republic) 281 Timi Salonen (Finland) 92 Benjamin Basso (Denmark) 118 Gustav Grahn (Sweden)   SGP2 SUBSTITUTE RIDERS: 27 Tom Brennan (Great Britain) 127 Keynan Rew (Australia) 33 Nörick Blödorn (Germany) 38 Ernest Matjusonoks (Latvia) 111 Carlos Eber Ampugnani (Argentina)   SGP2 CALENDAR: Friday, May 27: FIM SGP2 of Czech Republic – Prague Sunday, August 14: FIM SGP2 of Great Britain – Cardiff Friday, September 30: FIM SGP2 of Poland – Torun

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FIRST 12 SGP2 QUALIFIERS CONFIRMED

Reigning FIM Speedway Under-21 world champion Jakub Miskowiak booked his place in the brand-new SGP2 series as Czech racer Jan Kvech pipped him to victory in the Gislaved qualifier on Saturday. Riders were competing for a spot in the three-round SGP2 series – the newly-revamped FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship. As part of Discovery Sports Events’ drive to put the sport’s young stars at the heart of the action, SGP2 is set to share a stage with Speedway GP events this year, with Prague’s Marketa Stadium staging the opening round on Friday, May 27 – the night before the FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic. The second round takes place at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Sunday, August 14 – the day after the FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain, before the action concludes in Torun on September 30 – the night before the FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Torun. Qualifiers for SGP2 took place at Swedish track Gislaved, Latvian venue Daugavpils and Slovenian circuit Krsko on Saturday. And Miskowiak ensured his place among the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship title contenders by finishing third in the Gislaved round. Four riders tied on 12 points, forcing a run-off for the rostrum. Kvech triumphed with Sweden’s Casper Henriksson second, Miskowiak third and Poland’s Wiktor Przyjemski taking the fourth and final spot. In a star-studded field, Danish racer Benjamin Basso fell just short on 11, while Great Britain’s Tom Brennan and Australia’s Keynan Rew both missed out on 10 points. Swedish hopeful Philip Hellstrom-Bangs exited on nine. Danish racer Kevin Juhl Pedersen cruised to a 15-point maximum to win the Daugavpils round, with in-form Czech star Daniel Klima qualifying in second place on 14. Polish young gun Mateusz Cierniak made it through on 13, with his compatriot Wiktor Lampart securing the final spot on 12. Finnish rider Timi Salonen fell just a point short of qualification on 11. Latvian star Francis Gusts didn’t line up in his home event in Daugavpils and was forced to travel to chase qualification. He was rewarded with victory in the Krsko round on 14 points. Polish rider Mateusz Swidnicki, Denmark’s Jonas Knudsen and Czech youngster Petr Chlupac all made the cut on 12. Sweden’s Gustav Grahn fell a point short on 11. But the riders who missed out could yet be handed a reprieve as three permanent wild cards for the SGP2 series are still up for grabs, along with a wild card for each individual round. SGP2 QUALIFIERS SO FAR: Jan Kvech (Czech Republic), Casper Henriksson (Sweden), Jakub Miskowiak (Poland), Wiktor Przyjemski (Poland), Kevin Juhl Pedersen (Denmark), Daniel Klima (Czech Republic), Mateusz Cierniak (Poland), Wiktor Lampart (Poland), Francis Gusts (Latvia), Mateusz Swidnicki (Poland), Jonas Knudsen (Denmark), Petr Chlupac (Czech Republic) – plus three permanent wild cards TBC. GISLAVED SCORES: 1 Jan Kvech 12+3, 2 Casper Henriksson 12+2, 3 Jakub Miskowiak 12+1, 4 Wiktor Przyjemski 12+0, 5 Benjamin Basso 11, 6 Tom Brennan 10, 7 Keynan Rew 10, 8 Philip Hellstrom-Bangs 9, 9 Steven Goret 8, 10 Marius Nielsen 7, 11 Jordan Palin 5, 12 Mathias Tressarieu 4, 13 Drew Kemp 4, 14 James Pearson 3, 15 Espen Sola 1, 16 Timo Wachs 0, 17 Hugo Lundahl DNR. DAUGAVPILS SCORES: 1 Kevin Juhl Pedersen 15, 2 Daniel Klima 14, 3 Mateusz Cierniak 13, 4 Wiktor Lampart 12, 5 Timi Salonen 11, 6 Ernest Matjuszonok 9, 7 Jesper Knudsen 9, 8 Ricards Ansviesulis 8, 9 Celina Liebmann 6, 10 Maximilian Belsing 5, 11 Artiom Juhno 5, 12 Erik Bachhuber 4, 13 Noel Wahlqvist 4, 14 Sam Hagon 3, 15 Markus Maximus Lill 1, 16 Nikita Kaulins 0. KRSKO SCORES: 1 Francis Gusts 14, 2 Mateusz Swidnicki 12, 3 Jonas Knudsen 12, 4 Petr Chlupac 12, 5 Gustav Grahn 11, 6 Eber Ampugnani 9, 7 Norick Blodorn 9, 8 Fraser Bowes 9, 9 Dennis Fazekas 8, 10 Anze Grmek 8, 11 Miran Praznik 5, 12 Mario Niedermeier 4, 13 Bruno Belan 3, 14 Michele Menani 3, 15 Sebastian Kossler 1, 16 Damian Boyero 0, 17 Michal Bastecky 0, 18 Jakub Exler 0.

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SGP2 QUALIFICATION RACE IS ON!

The race for a place in the first-ever SGP2 line-up gets underway as Krsko, Daugavpils and Gislaved all stage qualifying rounds for the newly-revamped FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship on Saturday. For the first time ever, the championship will be staged as part of FIM Speedway Grand Prix weekends, with the opening round taking place in Prague on May 27 – the night before the FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic. The sport’s brightest young stars then take centre stage in Cardiff for the FIM SGP2 of Great Britain on Sunday, August 14 – the day after the FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain returns to the iconic Principality Stadium. The three-round series then concludes at Torun’s Marian Rose Motoarena on September 30 – the night before the FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Torun on October 1. But the journey starts at one of three qualifiers across Europe. Defending champion and Speedway GP substitute Jakub Miskowiak starts his title defence in the qualifier at Swedish track Gislaved, home of Bauhaus Elitserien giants Lejonen. Swedish FIM Speedway of Nations sensation Philip Hellstrom-Bangs will also be among the favourites to make it through a star-studded round along with Great Britain racers Tom Brennan and Drew Kemp, Danish hotshot Benjamin Basso, Czech star Jan Kvech, Aussie prospect Keynan Rew and French international Steven Goret. Polish title hopefuls Wiktor Lampart and Mateusz Cierniak line up at the qualifier in Daugavpils, Latvia, where they come up against the likes of Czech prospect Daniel Klima, Sweden’s Noel Wahlqvist and local stars Ricards Ansviesulis and Ernest Matjusonoks. The Krsko qualifier in Slovenia features Polish racer Mateusz Swidnicki and German shooting star Norick Blodorn. Latvian racer Francis Gusts, Czech star Petr Chlupac, Sweden’s Gustav Grahn and Slovenia’s own Anze Grmek are also among the qualification hopefuls. The top four riders from each qualifier will make it through to the SGP2 series, with three permanent wild cards set to join them. GISLAVED LINE-UP: 1 Tom Brennan (Great Britain), 2 Marius Nielsen (Denmark), 3 Philip Hellström-Bängs (Sweden), 4 Keynan Rew (Australia), 5 Jakub Miskowiak (Poland), 6 James Pearson (Australia), 7 Drew Kemp (Great Britain), 8 Wiktor Przyjemski (Poland, 9 Benjamin Basso (Denmark), 10 Espen Sola (Norway), 11 Timo Wachs (Germany), 12 Jan Kvech (Czech Republic), 13 Casper Henriksson (Sweden), 14 Mathias Tresarrieu (France), 15 Steven Goret (France), 16 Jordan Palin (Great Britain). RESERVES: 17 Hugo Lundahl (Sweden), 18 Aleks Lundquist (Sweden). KRSKO LINE-UP: 1 Anze Grmek (Slovenia), 2 Michele Menani (Italy), 3 Fraser Bowes (Australia), 4 Miran Praznik (Slovenia), 5 Francis Gusts (Latvia), 6 Jonas Knudsen (Denmark), 7 Jan Jeníček (Czech Republic), 8 Damian Boyero (Argentina), 9 Dennis Fazekas (Hungary), 10 Mateusz Swidnicki (Poland), 11 Mario Niedermeier (Germany), 12 Nörick Blödorn (Germany), 13 Petr Chlupac (Czech Republic), 14 Gustav Grahn (Sweden), 15 Carlos Eber Ampugnani (Argentina), 16 Sebastian Kössler (Austria). RESERVES: 17 Bruno Belan (Czech Republic), 18 Michal Baštecký (Czech Republic). DAUGAVPILS LINE-UP: 1 Markus Maximus Lill (Estonia), 2 Erik Bachhuber (Germany), 3 Artjoms Juhno (Latvia), 4 Wiktor Lampart (Poland), 5 Jesper Knudsen (Denmark), 6 Maximilian Belsing (Sweden), 7 Ricards Ansviesulis (Latvia), 8 Mateusz Cierniak (Poland), 9 Timi Salonen (Finland), 10 Noel Wahlqvist (Sweden), 11 Nikita Kaulins (Latvia), 12 Ernest Matjusonoks (Latvia), 13 Celina Liebmann (Germany), 14 Sam Hagon (Great Britain), 15 Daniel Klima (Czech Republic), 16 Kevin Juhl Pedersen (Denmark).

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