The curtain rises on the Under 21 championships with the first round of the individual series taking place in Latvia this week. The three round series starts in Daugavpils on Friday 29th June with the remaining meetings in Leszno in July and Pardubice in September.
Qualifying rounds have taken place in Sweden, Czech Republic and Poland and the full list of qualifiers and Wild Card riders is:
|505||Robert Lambert||Great Britain|
|99||Dan Bewley||Great Britain|
|114||Andreas Lyager Hansen||Denmark|
|33||Filip Hjelmland - Wild Card||Sweden|
|165||Filip Hajek - Wild Card||Czech Republic|
|15||Davis Kurmis - Wild Card||Latvia|
Predicting the winner of this year’s title is as difficult as ever with current champion Maksym Drabik confident of retaining his top spot ahead of silver medallist Bartosz Smektala. Both can expect a stiff challenge from the rest of the field with Patrick Hansen who won the Liberec qualifier together with Andreas Lyager Hansen and Fredrik Jakobsen leading the challenge for Denmark’s first Under 21 gold medal since 2012.
Britain’s Robert Lambert is in the best form of his life and scored a maximum to take first place in the Rybnik qualifier. Encouraged by his fighting performance in the Speedway of Nations recently he will be determined to improve on his previous results in this competition. He will be joined by the fast improving Dan Bewley giving the Young Lions their best chance of a gold medal since Lee Richardson won in 1999.
Russia’s Gleb Chugunov took the top place in Vetlanda ahead of Bewley and could be expected to mount a strong challenge but he is reported as having broken his ankle in a crash at the European competition in Czech Republic last weekend and he’ll be replaced by Swedish Joel Kling, who was named as first substitute for 2018 series.
Disappointingly for Australia they have no riders present this year but Poland with five qualifiers have the strongest national representation with Kubera, Chmiel and Kaczmarek all likely to be in contention and Nick Skorja will hope to add to the two bronze medals that Slovenia have achieved in this competition.
The first round in Daugavpils will be an opportunity for local hope Davis Kurmis to shine and he will have huge support from the Latvian fans. Oleg Mikhailovs will be the wild card for this stage, with Artjoms Trofimovs and Ernests Matjushonoks as Track Reserves.
Racing starts at 19.15 local time and the FIM Jury President will be Pavel Ondrasik from Czech Republic with Guiseppe Grandi from Italy as Referee.