FIM SPEEDWAY – A NEW ERA BEGINS

PAUL BURBIDGE

Discovery Sports Events is placing the power and viewing experience in the hands of fans as it takes the FIM Speedway World Championships into a new era.

The 2022 FIM Speedway Grand Prix season started in style as double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik won an epic FIM Speedway GP of Croatia – Donji Kraljevec in front of 6,500 fans at sold-out Speedway Stadion Milenium’s first SGP event since 2012.

It was the first round of Discovery Sports Events’ 10-year tenure as FIM Speedway global promoter as the group invests heavily in its vision to take the events and entertainment to the next level.

For the first time ever, Discovery has taken the entire production of a series in-house, as it puts new technology at the heart of the show. Telemetry devices will monitor rider heart rates ahead of each race – giving a unique insight into the stresses riders face in the pressure cooker of a Speedway GP. On top of that, the technology will spotlight riders’ reaction times at the start line, top speed and also race distance covered, as riders try every possible racing line to take the chequered flag.

LED screens will feature on the brand-new central stage and push-off areas, identifying riders as they take to the track; bringing fans results, and boosting the atmosphere throughout the night.

Discovery will also introduce innovative new camera positions to speedway, including cable cams at Speedway GP’s biggest events in Warsaw and Cardiff, plus jimmy jib cameras later this season. There are also cameras in every rider’s pit box, allowing viewers to closely follow their favourite stars behind the scenes, while also enjoying the racing.

Fans can choose how they follow the action with a mix of free-to-air and pay TV coverage, as well as enhanced OTT coverage on Discovery+ and the Eurosport App wherever these services are available. A new FIM Speedway app is also set to be launched offering live timing from qualifying practice, race results throughout each Speedway GP, and all the latest news and information.

Next up is the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw, with over 50,000 passionate fans set to pack into PGE Narodowy on Saturday, May 14.

Polish icon Zmarzlik can’t wait to return to Poland’s national stadium for the first time since 2019. He said: “I think it is good for the sport of speedway – it’s so nice to be back in Warsaw, and I am waiting for this.

“I think what is happening with Discovery and their plans for Speedway GP is more professional and more exciting for the people. I share the same ambition for the sport too.”

Rickardsson was delighted to see the action unfold from trackside throughout an epic weekend in Croatia. He said: “After so many months of hearing about Discovery’s plans, it was a real pleasure to see them come to life in Croatia. The pit bays really are something special and I had a great view of the push-off area from the TV studio, and I have to say that looks fantastic.

“It really was a great show all round and I look forward to seeing what else is in store as Discovery continues its first season as global FIM Speedway promoter.”

François Ribeiro, head of Discovery Sports Events, is pleased with how a new era for FIM Speedway has started.

He said: “It was incredibly rewarding to see the Speedway Stadion Milenium in Croatia packed to capacity and our vision for FIM Speedway finally coming to life after so many months of hard work.

“We are determined to put power in the hands of fans, in terms of how they follow the racing, with a huge array of camera angles, racing data and live information at their fingertips throughout race day and beyond.

“Whether they are watching at trackside or at home, we want this to be a truly immersive racing experience that will capture the imagination of FIM Speedway fans old and new.

“The whole team at Discovery Sports Events is now hugely excited to deliver Speedway GP on the incredible stage that is PGE Narodowy in Warsaw. We are looking forward to another full stadium and I am sure that from the fanzone in the afternoon to the champagne celebrations after the final, fans will be treated to a day they will never forget.”

Ahead of Poland’s biggest speedway event, here are some of the key numbers from the opening round of a new Speedway GP season in Croatia:

 

Speedway GP in numbers:

  • 15 permanent riders in Speedway GP
  • Six nations represented as the line-up features four riders from Poland, three each from Denmark, Australia and Great Britain, plus one from both Sweden and Slovakia
  • Three Speedway GP world champions with six world titles between them
  • 23 heats and 92 laps of racing in each Speedway GP
  • Each race completed in around 60 seconds

 

The bikes in numbers:

  • 500cc engines in Speedway GP
  • Bikes weigh a minimum of 77kg
  • Bikes accelerate from 0-100kph faster than an F1 car
  • Speeds up to 120kph
  • And absolutely NO BRAKES!!

 

The technical setup in numbers:

  • 14 trucks – transporting 50 tonnes and 800m3 of equipment
  • 129m2 of LED screens displayed on the brand-new central stage and push-off area
  • 145 operational staff delivered the opening event in Croatia
  • 40 cameras were used
  • 80 staff produced the international TV feed and programme, benefitting from pit cameras, HF and a drone.
  • Cable cams and crane/jimmy jib cameras are set to feature in coverage at certain stadiums this season.
  • Live studio led by Polish presenter Marcelina Rutkowska-Konikiewicz, with six-time world champion and FIM Speedway global ambassador Tony Rickardsson featuring in the studio and seven-time British champion Scott Nicholls reporting from the pits
  • Enhanced telemetry with rider heartbeat – a first in speedway. Reaction times, top speeds and distance covered also set to feature later in the season.
  • International distribution to 10 international broadcasters across five continents, with racing also live on Discovery+ and the Eurosport App

 

What’s new?

  • New brand identity
  • New pit boxes – complete with cameras, TV screens and personalised team branding for riders
  • New central stage with LED screens to entertain fans and bring them important updates, line-ups and results throughout the night
  • New push-off area with LED screens to inform fans who starts in which helmet colour, as riders get ready to take to the track
  • New fan zone – featuring an autograph session with all 16 riders and other interactive activities and photo opportunities
  • New app – with live results, qualifying practice lap times and all the latest news, plus enhanced telemetry with rider heartbeat, holeshot and race times

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