FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship
The quest for Speedway World Championship glory began at the weekend when three elimination rounds took place to establish qualification to the 2017 Grand Prix series. Meetings took place in Denmark, Italy and Great Britain with seven riders from each round progressing to the semi-finals later in the season.
At least ten federations will be represented in the next round. Sweden was the most successful nation with five qualifiers whilst Denmark and Poland both saw four of their riders progress.
At Slangerup, Denmark, World Under 21 champion Bartosz Zmarzlik took the top spot but a run off was needed to establish the other rostrum places with home star Mikkel Bech beating Finland’s Timo Lahti and Ukraine’s Andrey Karpov to resolve the tie. A major surprise at this meeting was the elimination of current Grand Prix rider Chris Harris of Great Britain.
The long Terenzano track in Italy saw Polish rider Piotr Pawlicki take gold with Swede Kim Nilsson and Michal Jepsen Jensen from Denmark joining him at the prizegiving. Local favourite Nicolas Covatti was another qualifier and Germany’s Kai Huckenback won a race off with Jurica Pavlic for the last qualifying spot.
The Adrian Flux stadium at Kings Lynn staged Britain’s round and saw a Swedish victory when a rejuvenated Fredrik Lindgren riding the latest GRM powered machine took the honours ahead of Poland’s Krzysztof Kasprzak and Dane Kenneth Bjerre. Fellow Swede and former Long Track champion Joonas Kylmakorpi also qualified despite a disqualification for a start infringement in his last race. Australian Team Manger Mark Lemon was on hand to see his two riders Sam Masters and Brady Kurtz progress into the next stage but another disappointment for the British fans was the failure of any of the home riders to qualify although Craig Cook will be a reserve for the semi final rounds.
The remaining quarter final round will be in Bavaria where the traditional holiday Monday meeting will be held at Abensberg on 16th May. All qualifiers will be joined by the nominated Wild Card riders for the semi finals in Gorican, Croatia on 28th May and Lonigo Italy on 2nd July.