World champions Tai Woffinden and Jason Doyle lead a stellar field for Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Race Off 2 in Manchester on May 11 as the squads and starting line-ups are confirmed.
Reigning world No.1 Woffinden captains the Lions on home shale in his first racing appearance in the UK since becoming the first Brit to win three world titles last October. Meanwhile, 2017 FIM Speedway Grand Prix winner Doyle leads the Australian challenge.
The Brits and Aussies are up against Denmark, USA, Latvia, France and Finland with three places up for grabs in the Monster Energy SON Finals at Russian race track Togliatti on July 20 and 21.
Every nation had the chance to name a squad of up to five riders – three seniors and two under-21s, with two seniors and a junior starting in Manchester. Each under-21 must take at least one ride.
Woffinden leads the Lions challenge as they bid to build on the silver medal they won in Wroclaw last summer. He is joined in the side by former Belle Vue racer Craig Cook, who knows the National Speedway Stadium circuit inside out.
British senior and junior champion Robert Lambert serves as their under-21 rider after playing a key role last summer. Former SGP rider Chris Harris is the standby senior for the Lions, with Daniel Bewley their reserve junior.
Doyle teams up with Belle Vue skipper Max Fricke, who gets the nod ahead of 2012 world champion Chris Holder to race on his SGB Premiership home track. Aussie Under-21 champion Jaimon Lidsey serves as their junior rider, with Redcar rider Jordan Stewart the reserve under-21.
National champion Niels-Kristian Iversen and SGP newcomer Leon Madsen join forces for Denmark, with Frederik Jakobsen named as their under-21 by team manager Hans Nielsen. Former SGP winner Michael Jepsen Jensen and junior Patrick Hansen are also in the squad.
Belle Vue rider Dimitri Berge lines up on his British home track for France and he’s joined by David Bellego – winner of a Speedway European Championship qualifier last weekend. Gaetan Stella is their under-21 team mate, with no further riders selected.
The Finns track the same senior pair that raced in Manchester last year, as Timo Lahti and Tero Aarnio join forces. Timi Salonen is their under-21, with Jesse Mustonen and junior Niklas Sayrio also in their squad.
Latvia line up with Andzejs Lebedevs and Jevgenijs Kostigovs, plus under-21 rider Olegs Mihailovs. They do not name any reserve riders.
And the USA complete the field for Manchester with a young squad led by skipper Luke Becker, who has enjoyed a strong debut season in the SGB Premiership with Wolverhampton this year. He teams up with Austin Novratil and Broc Nicol, who is named in their under-21 position. Ricky Wells serves as their standby senior with no reserve junior rider listed.
The top two teams in Manchester join hosts and defending champions Russia at the Finals in Togliatti, with the teams placed third to fifth racing off for the last place.
The Finals field will also feature three nations who advance from Race Off 1 in Landshut, Germany on May 4, which sees Germany, Poland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Ukraine and Italy compete.
RACE OFF 2 SQUADS AND LINE-UPS (IN DRAW ORDER):
AUSTRALIA: 1 Jason Doyle (captain), 2 Max Fricke, U21 Jaimon Lidsey. Also in squad: Chris Holder, Jordan Stewart (U21).
FINLAND: 1 Timo Lahti (captain), 2 Tero Aarnio, U21 Timi Salonen. Also in squad: Jesse Mustonen, Niklas Sayrio (U21).
LATVIA: 1 Andzejs Lebedevs (captain), 2 Jevgenijs Kostigovs, U21 Olegs Mihailovs.
DENMARK: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen (captain), 2 Leon Madsen, U21 Frederik Jakobsen. Also in squad: Michael Jepsen Jensen, Patrick Hansen (U21).
GREAT BRITAIN: 1 Tai Woffinden (captain), 2 Craig Cook, U21 Robert Lambert. Also in squad: Chris Harris, Daniel Bewley (U21).
FRANCE: 1 David Bellego (captain), 2 Dimitri Berge, U21 Gaetan Stella.
USA: 1 Austin Novratil, 2 Luke Becker (captain), U21 Broc Nicol. Also in squad: Ricky Wells.
FIM Speedway of Nations