The team line-ups for the brand new Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations next month have been revealed as 15 countries bid for world title glory in the ultimate test of team riding.
History is made when the first-ever Monster Energy SON event takes places at German track Teterow on Saturday, June 2, as Germany, Denmark, Russia, Latvia, USA, Slovenia and the Ukraine compete in Race Off 1.
Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium then stages Race Off 2 on Tuesday, June 5 as hosts Great Britain meet Australia, Sweden, Czech Republic, France, Italy and Finland.
Three teams from each Race Off reach the Monster Energy SON Finals in Wroclaw on June 8 and 9, with the top two scorers qualifying automatically and the third to fifth-placed teams playing off for the final spot.
Host nation Poland complete the Final field with boss Marek Cieslak picking hometown hero Maciej Janowski and world No.2 Patryk Dudek for the Olympic Stadium showdown. Wroclaw’s World Under-21 champion Maksym Drabik is named as their reserve.
Race Off 1 sees Germany track 2014 New Zealand SGP winner Martin Smolinski and rising star Kai Huckenbeck, with young gun Michael Hartel filling their under-21 reserve spot as they bid for their first appearance of the 21st century in a world team championship final.
Russia head to Teterow with both of their FIM Speedway Grand Prix stars, Emil Sayfutdinov and Artem Laguta, as they chase a first ever world team title. Gleb Chugunov – one of the surprise packages of last summer’s Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup – is their junior star.
Danish team manager Hans Nielsen has picked former FIM Speedway World Cup winners Kenneth Bjerre and Michael Jepsen Jensen as his duo, with Frederik Jakobsen named as their under-21.
The USA’s chances have been given a huge shot in the arm after four-time world champion and team-riding specialist Greg Hancock accepted the call to return to international duty.
Grin – part of the last team to win a world pairs event when he triumphed in the 1998 World Team Cup at Vojens with Billy Hamill – joins forces with his protégée Luke Becker, who impressed with a race win at last year’s Monster Energy SWC Race Off in Leszno. American boss Lance King has elected not to select an under-21 reserve.
Slovenia are spearheaded by their SGP icon Matej Zagar, who is joined by Matic Ivacic. Nick Skorja is named as their under-21 rider.
Latvian hero Andzejs Lebedevs, who masterminded Denmark’s shock exit from last season’s Monster Energy SWC at Vastervik, leads his country’s challenge alongside Jevgenijs Kostigovs. Olegs Mihailovs is their under-21.
And the Ukraine select Andriy Karpov and Aleksandr Loktaev as they bid to make the most of a late call-up to replace Slovakia, who withdrew following an injury crisis. No under-21 rider is selected.
Great Britain go into Race Off 2 with both of their SGP heroes as double world champion Tai Woffinden returns to the national side after a year’s absence to partner Craig Cook, who competes on his British home track in Manchester. Fast-rising star Robert Lambert is their under-21.
Sweden track in-form World Championship leader Fredrik Lindgren and former SGP star Antonio Lindback. The former SWC winners are joined by under-21 reserve Joel Kling, who rides for Dackarna.
Australian boss Mark Lemon calls on world champion Jason Doyle, with Manchester and Wroclaw track specialist Max Fricke named as his partner. Aussie Under-21 champion Jaimon Lidsey, who rides for Rawicz in the Polish Second Division, is their junior.
The Czech Republic are led into action by SGP second reserve Vaclav Milik – this weekend’s ANLAS Czech SGP wild card. He teams up with the fast-trapping Josef Franc, with Jan Kvech their under-21 reserve.
France make their first World Championship appearance of the 21st century, led by Swindon rider David Bellego, who qualified for the GP Challenge in Lonigo on Saturday. He joins forces with former FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship finalist Dimitri Berge, with Gaetan Stella their under-21.
Italy select former Italian SGP wild card Nicolas Covatti as well as Paco Castagna – son of the nation’s greatest ever speedway star Armando Castagna. No under-21 rider has been nominated by the Italians.
Finland complete the line-up for Race Off 2, with former Finnish SGP wild card Timo Lahti and Newcastle rider Tero Aarnio teaming up. They opt against naming an under-21.
MONSTER ENERGY FIM SPEEDWAY OF NATIONS TEAM LINE-UPS
RACE OFF 1, TETEROW, GERMANY, JUNE 2
USA: 1 Greg Hancock, 2 Luke Becker. Team Manager: Lance King.
UKRAINE: 1 Andriy Karpov, 2 Aleksandr Loktaev. Team Manager: Sergiy Lyatosinskyy.
RUSSIA: 1 Artem Laguta, 2 Emil Sayfutdinov, 3 Gleb Chugunov. Team Manager: Andrei Savin.
SLOVENIA: 1 Matej Zagar, 2 Matic Ivacic, 3 Nick Skorja. Team Manager: Franci Kalin.
GERMANY: 1 Kai Huckenbeck, 2 Martin Smolinski, 3 Michael Hartel. Team Manager: Herbert Rudolph.
LATVIA: 1 Andzejs Lebedevs, 2 Jevgenijs Kostigovs, 3 Olegs Mihailovs. Team Manager: Vladimirs Ribnikovs.
DENMARK: 1 Michael Jepsen Jensen, 2 Kenneth Bjerre, 3 Frederik Jakobsen. Team Manager: Hans Nielsen.
RACE OFF 2, MANCHESTER, GREAT BRITAIN, JUNE 5
CZECH REPUBLIC: 1 Vaclav Milik, 2 Josef Franc, 3 Jan Kvech. Team Manager: Milan Spinka.
FINLAND: 1 Timo Lahti, 2 Tero Aarnio. Team Manager: Jyri Palomaki.
GREAT BRITAIN: 1 Tai Woffinden, 2 Craig Cook, 3 Robert Lambert. Team Manager: Alun Rossiter.
FRANCE: 1 David Bellego, 2 Dimitri Berge, 3 Gaetan Stella. Team Manager: Laurent Sambarrey.
SWEDEN: 1 Fredrik Lindgren, 2 Antonio Lindback, 3 Joel Kling. Team Manager: Morgan Andersson.
ITALY: 1 Nicolas Covatti, 2 Paco Castagna. Team Manager: Alessandro Dalla Valle.
AUSTRALIA: 1 Jason Doyle, 2 Max Fricke, 3 Jaimon Lidsey. Team Manager: Mark Lemon.
FINALS, WROCLAW, POLAND, JUNE 8 & 9
POLAND: 1 Maciej Janowski, 2 Patryk Dudek, 3 Maksym Drabik. Team Manager: Marek Cieslak.
THREE TEAMS FROM RACE OFF 1
THREE TEAMS FROM RACE OFF 2
Speedway of Nations