SGB PREMIERSHIP TRIO CONFIRM RISING STARS

Three SGB Premiership sides have confirmed their Rising Stars for 2023 as Dan Gilkes heads to Sheffield, Jack Thomas joins Ipswich and Dan Thompson follows Leicester into the top flight. Each of the seven SGB Premiership sides is required to track at least one Rising Star – taken from a list of British riders bidding to establish themselves in the country’s top division. Tigers recruit Gilkes (pictured above) has been part of the Great Britain youth setup in recent times and comes to Owlerton highly recommended by Sheffield and joint GB boss Simon Stead, despite a season hampered by injury after he suffered broken ribs and a broken arm in 2022. Stead said: “I was absolutely delighted that Dan’s name was still on the list of riders available to us when it came around to our Rising Star selection. That’s because he was my No.1 target anyway and I was desperate to work with him. “I spoke in some depth with Dan towards the end of last season and told him I genuinely felt the time was right for him to step up and make the move into the Premiership - albeit on his limited bike time and Championship racing this year due to injury. “Dan is somebody I’ve been working with for quite some time now in the GB Academy and with the GB squad. He is somebody who never fails to impress me with his level of application and dedication to the sport. “He is the perfect fit for us and somebody I feel I work very, very well with and someone I think I can help continue to develop.” Norwich-born Thomas raced for his local club King’s Lynn in the SGB Premiership last season and is pleased to be staying relatively nearby with Ipswich. He hopes to build on a strong 2022 season, which saw him claim a surprise heat-leader role at SGB Championship club Oxford. He told the Witches website: “I spoke with a few clubs about spots for next year and I was told I could do another year as a Rising Star, so I thought I would put my name out there. “I had a chat with (Ipswich team manager) Ritchie (Hawkins) and just waited for the AGM. I was hoping for the offer as it is not too far from my house. It’s only an hour, so I was really hoping to get the opportunity with Ipswich. “This year to start with was the best season I have had yet. I trained a lot harder last winter and put a lot of time in with the bikes and prep. I started the season with Oxford thinking I would be riding at reserve and ended up as one of the heat leaders for the season. I put my average up to a six at one point nearly. “It was the same with King’s Lynn. I started as a Rising Star, and I was grateful to have the opportunity with a local club again and was really enjoying it. “Then halfway through the season I ended up having a crash, broke both of my wrists which knocked the season on the head for me. I am back to full fitness and have been back on the bike a couple of times since and am feeling back to myself.” Thompson is no stranger to Leicester fans having raced for the Lions in the SGB Championship and their Lion Cubs team at National League level. Leicester promoter Stewart Dickson hopes he can continue his progress in the top tier, and he backed him to show no regard for reputations. Dickson said: “We know the scalps Dan took last season, the likes of Josh Pickering, our own Chris Harris, and several others along the way, and we know he will get even better next season around his home track. “I don’t need to tell him he’ll need to work on his away form, and there could be some tracks that he’s not been to for a while, but the bottom line is that he’s deserving of his place. “This Rising Star system is for people like him, and he was the obvious choice for us. We’re delighted to offer him the position and glad that he’s accepted it. “Obviously it would have been ideal if he’d found a Championship team, but hopefully that door will open for him as the season progresses. “He has nothing to prove to me, but if he can show the form that I know he can then I’m sure he will be an option for any teams who don’t start as well as they are expecting.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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ZMARZLIK SETS SIGHTS ON NO.4 AFTER BEING HONOURED AT FIM AWARDS

Triple world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik admits being honoured among motorcycling’s icons only makes him hungrier to win Speedway GP title No.4 in 2023. The Polish hero picked up his third FIM gold medal in four years at the FIM Awards in Rimini, Italy on Saturday night – collecting the prize from FIM president Jorge Viegas as he was heralded as one of motorcycle racing's ultimate champions of 2022. He was honoured alongside all the FIM Speedway world champions of this year on the night Zmarzlik’s fellow triple world champion Jason Crump was deservedly inducted as an FIM legend. Zmarzlik dominated this year’s Speedway GP series, winning the opening round in Croatia, before sealing the title with back-to-back wins in Vojens and Malilla. The Lublin star clearly enjoys making his regular trips to the FIM Awards, and he hopes to be collecting another gold medal at the 2023 ceremony in Liverpool in 12 months’ time. He said: “I’m very happy and very proud to be here again with all the champions. It’s the best motivation before next season. I want to come back here many times. “I have the motivation. This gala is the best motivation, and I will do everything on the track to be here again.” Zmarzlik wasn’t the only Pole honoured as SGP2 world champion Mateusz Cierniak collected his gold medal for winning the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship series. He was also part of Poland’s side that triumphed in SON2 – the FIM Team Speedway Under-21 World Championship. Australian team manager Mark Lemon took to the stage as the Roos were honoured for an emotional FIM Speedway of Nations win at Vojens – their first world team title since they lifted the 2002 FIM Speedway World Cup. Denmark’s SGP3 winner Mikkel Andersen also picked up his gold medal after winning the revamped FIM Speedway Youth World Championship on a night of sensational 250cc racing in Wroclaw. Watch the highlights of the FIM Awards now on the @FIMLive Facebook page.

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REW SET FOR BRITISH DEBUT WITH IPSWICH

Australian Under-21 champion Keynan Rew admits Speedway GP rider Jason Doyle tempted him to Ipswich as he makes his British league debut in 2023. Rew has spent his entire European career in mainland Europe so far, forging a close connection with Polish giants Leszno, before making the move to First Division team Gdansk for next year. With former Bulls team mate Doyle leading the Ipswich side for a second straight season, Rew admits the 2017 world champion pointed him in the direction of Foxhall. He told the Witches website: “Me and Doyley are pretty good friends, we speak regularly, and he told me Ipswich is the place to be, that it is very professionally ran and there’s never a problem there. He helped me to make it happen and talked me into going. “My career so far has been based mainly in Europe. I haven’t done anything in the UK yet, so probably not a lot of people know me there. I have been racing in Poland for the last three years. I started in Rawicz, I went to Leszno and eventually ended up in Krosno last season in the First Division. Next season I will be racing in the First Division with Gdansk in Poland. “From what I have seen and heard, Ipswich is a very professional club and the management were great to deal with. When I started to speak to Chris (Louis), he made it very easy and simple to get a contract done, which made life simple and made me excited to join the team.” Rew hopes to hit the ground racing in the UK as he prepares for the Australian summer season. He said: “I will be doing a fair bit of racing in Australia and keep the bike time going whilst everyone else in Europe is struggling for bike time. That is an advantage for us. Other than that, I will chill out, go to work and enjoy my summer!” The 19-year-old appeared in the final round of this season’s SGP2 series – the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship – falling just short of the semi-finals at the FIM SGP2 of Poland – Torun on September 30. Polish-based Rew was a series reserve for this year’s competition, but he hopes to play a more regular role in SGP2 next season, as well as starring for his clubs. He added: “I would like to be scoring well in Poland and the UK. It is my first season in the UK, so I don’t have the biggest expectations, but I have goals and I want to be scoring well there and I have the personal goal to race in SGP2 and do well in that.”

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JUHL PEDERSEN BIDS TO BUILD ON TOP 2022 WITH GRINDSTED

Danish young gun Kevin Juhl Pedersen hopes build on a fine 2022 season and lift his Speedwayligaen form for Grinsted after signing for 2023. Juhl Pedersen qualified for SGP2 – the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship – finishing sixth overall after taking second place at the FIM SGP2 of Great Britain – Cardiff on August 14. Having starred for his clubs and on the world stage, Juhl Pedersen is keen to continue his progress in Grinsted colours next year, as he joins the likes of former Speedway GP rider Kenneth Bjerre and SGP2 rival Francis Gusts in the squad. He said: “2022 has been a really good year for me individually. I qualified for SGP2 with maximum points and had my second place in Cardiff, which was definitely the highlight of 2022. “In addition, I represented Denmark at the Speedway of Nations in Vojens and at the U23 European Championships in Tarnow. I also won silver at the Danish Under-21 Final in Grindsted. “At club level, I changed clubs in the Polish Second Division from Poznan to Lokomotiv (Daugavpils) in the middle of the season, where I got a permanent spot on the team that ended the play-offs in fourth place. “I made my debut in the best Swedish league with Rospiggarna, where we won a bronze medal. “The Speedwayligaen was more mixed for me. I had many good home races in Grindsted, but next season work needs to be done to improve my away-track results, and I hope we can get to the play-off finals with Grindsted. “I'm really looking forward to another season in Grindsted where the club has helped me with good sponsors and believed in me during every race.”

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REW ROARS TO AUSSIE U21 CROWN

Aussie international Keynan Rew blazed to a six-ride maximum to lift his first Australian Under-21 Championship at Gillman on Saturday. Rew stormed through his five heats unbeaten, before winning the A Final ahead of fellow Queensland racer Tate Zischke, who raced to 13 in the heats, before finishing second in the medal race. Birmingham Brummies star James Pearson was third in the A Final after making it through as B Final winner – finishing ahead of SON2 team mate Fraser Bowes in the last-chance race. Jacob Hook was fourth in the A Final after qualifying on 12 as three Queensland youngsters finished top of the heat scorechart. In the first Aussie Under-21 Final staged since Jaimon Lidsey triumphed in January 2020, Gdansk signing Rew underlined his position as Australia’s brightest under-21 star. The 19-year-old top-scored with 12 points for his country in SON2 – the FIM Team Speedway Under-21 World Championship – at Vojens on July 29, as well as narrowly missing out on the semi-finals at the FIM SGP2 of Poland – Torun on September 30. Rew clocked up an average of 1.742 points per race for Krosno as they won promotion to the PGE Ekstraliga at the end of last season. He also finished third in the PGE Ekstraliga Under-24 league average charts for Leszno on 2.463. He now goes for national senior glory in the 2022 Australian Championship, which also takes place at Gillman as a one-off meeting on December 10, featuring reigning champion and Speedway GP rider Max Fricke. AUSTRALIAN UNDER-21 CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS: 1. Keynan Rew 15, 2. Tate Zischke 13, 3. James Pearson 11, 4. Jacob Hook 12, 5. Fraser Bowes 11, 6. Maurice Brown 9, 7. Liam May 9, 8. Cordell Rogerson 9, 9. Michael West 8, 10. Jack McDiarmid 5, 11. Patrick Hamilton 5, 12. Lachlan Hayes 3, 13. Harrison Ryan 3, 14. Tom Dixon 3, 15. Jackson Milner 2, 16. Teagan Pedler 2.

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