The stakes will be even higher in FIM Speedway Grand Prix finals after the SGP Commission confirmed changes to the scoring and qualification system from 2020.
Riders will be awarded championship points according to their finishing position in the SGP meetings, rather than how many points they score in each heat.
The system will see every rider who qualifies for the semi-final guaranteed at least nine championship points, with riders who fall short receiving eight or less on a sliding scale.
The winner of an SGP event will earn 20 championship points, with the runner-up 18, the third-placed rider 16 and the rider in fourth 14 points.
Director of the FIM Track Racing Commission (CCP) Armando Castagna explains the new system will add value to the championships by rewarding riders who reach finals and win rounds more regularly, ensuring an even more thrilling climax to SGP events.
He said: “The main thinking for us is to harmonise our championship scoring system with other big sports events so that the winner always comes away with the most points, which will help attract and retain a wider audience for our sport.”
SGP race director Phil Morris added: “We want to reward those riders who get into the finals. Riders in the semi-finals will be giving their absolute all to get through as there is the potential to score an extra eight championship points. That’s a big swing and ensures there’s everything to race for when we reach that stage of the night, all building to a huge crescendo.”
Points scored by riders in their five heats will still be used to determine the eight riders who reach the semi-finals. The third-placed riders in the semi-finals will then be ranked ahead of the riders who finish fourth.
Of the two third-placed semi-final riders, the one who finished highest after the heats will be ranked fifth and receive 12 championship points, while the other will be ranked sixth and earn 11 championship points – with the existing countback system used to resolve any ties if riders finished level.
Likewise, the fourth-placed semi-final rider who scores highest in the heats will be ranked seventh, receiving 10 championship points, and the other fourth finisher will finish eighth and earn nine.
Meanwhile those who fall short of the top eight will be ranked according to the points they scored over 20 heats, again with the existing countback system used to decide any ties if riders finish level on points. Their overall finishing position in the meeting will determine how many championship points they are allocated on a sliding scale, with the rider ranked ninth scoring eight championship points and the rider in 16th spot earning one.
In another change for 2020, only the top six riders in the SGP World Championship will be guaranteed a place in the following season’s series – down from the eight automatic qualification places allocated this year.
The top three from the GP Challenge will still qualify for the following season, while the winner of the Speedway European Championship series will also be guaranteed a spot in the SGP World Championship.
Castagna said: “In allowing the Speedway European Championship winner to qualify for the SGP series the following year, we will give a chance to new riders to enter the series via a different route, and this will also add value to this FIM continental championship.”
The line-up will be completed by five permanent wild cards, which will be selected by the SGP Commission.
FIM SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX QUALIFICATION PLACES
· Top six in SGP World Championship standings
· Top three at the GP Challenge
· Winner of the Speedway European Championship
· Five permanent wild cards selected by the SGP Commission
FIM SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS AWARDED