FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD CHAMPIONS HONOURED WITH MOTORCYCLING ELITE AT FIM AWARDS IN LIVERPOOL
FIM Speedway’s 2023 world champions received their gold medals alongside a galaxy of motorcycle stars at the FIM Awards in Liverpool on Saturday.
Speedway GP icon Bartosz Zmarzlik took to the stage to collect his fourth Speedway GP World Championship gold medal in five years as 58 world titles from the FIM's many motorcycle disciplines, also including the Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe-promoted FIM Endurance World Championship, were presented in front of 700 guests from around the world.
Zmarzlik was honoured as part of the FIM's Ultimate Champions group for 2023, also featuring Toni Bou (TrialGP), Steve Holcombe (EnduroGP), Luciano Benavides (W2RC), Jorge Prado (MXGP), Alvaro Bautista (Superbike) and Francesco Bagnaia (MotoGP), with the Pole receiving his medal from FIM president Jorge Viegas.
New Zealand’s four-time world champion Barry Briggs was inducted into an elite club of FIM track racing legends in the sport’s centenary year, before presenting this year’s champions with their medals alongside FIM Track Racing Commission (CCP) director Armando Castagna.
During its General Assembly, the FIM also paid a special tribute to two-time FIM Speedway world champion Peter Craven, honouring the legendary Liverpool rider who died while racing aged 29.
Zmarzlik sealed the sport’s biggest prize in an epic final showdown with Swedish star Fredrik Lindgren, winning the DeWalt FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Torun on September 30 to clinch the crown and match Australian legend Jason Crump’s record of 23 Speedway GP wins in the process.
A delighted Zmarzlik said: “I am really happy I came back to my home country at the stadium in Torun and won, and it meant I could be here again with all the champions.”
His Lublin teammate Mateusz Cierniak picked up a second straight FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship gold medal after winning the opening two rounds in Czech capital Prague and Polish city Gorzow, before defying a dramatic semi-final disqualification at the final round in Vojens, Denmark to hold on to his crown on September 15.
Swedish youngster Rasmus Karlsson received his FIM Speedway Youth World Championship gold medal after a popular SGP3 victory on home shale in Malilla on July 14.
The delighted Karlsson, who makes his Bauhaus Elitserien debut with boyhood club Indianerna in 2024, was pleased his sensational title triumph earned him a place among the stars in Liverpool.
He said: “It was really special to win SGP3 because it was in Sweden. I am very honoured to be here in Liverpool, and I just want to congratulate all the champions.”
The Polish national team was honoured for its epic victory in the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final in Wroclaw on July 29, which saw Maciej Janowski see off Great Britain’s Robert Lambert in a dramatic last-heat decider as the sport’s original team competition delivered a Final for the ages in speedway’s 100th anniversary season.
Poland also clinched victory in the DeWalt FIM Speedway of Nations – SON2 event in Riga on August 11 as they secured their 10th straight title in the FIM Team Speedway Under-21 World Championship.
Former Speedway GP winner Martin Smolinski picked up his gold medal for clinching his second FIM Long Track World Championship.
It was a special night for Briggs, who travelled in from California to take his place among the FIM’s track racing legends.
He said: “I don’t live in the past, but it’s exciting for me to be here. I am honoured to be here, and for my sport of speedway especially.”
Following the Liverpool ceremony, FIM president Jorge Viegas remarked: “The FIM Awards are always a very special occasion, and Liverpool has joined the great editions of this event with the support of the ACU.
"Again, it is so unique to have so many of our FIM champions together in one place and at one time, and it is something that has been warmly appreciated by all those who have been present.
"I would like to thank every single person who has contributed in any way to making the 2023 season such a huge success. Saturday's event was the perfect way to celebrate it and bring it to a close. Already we are planning and preparing to make 2024 even better.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, Motorsport Series Leader at Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, commented: “It was a pleasure to see our 2023 FIM Speedway and FIM EWC champions recognised and celebrated alongside so many greats of the motorcycling world in Liverpool.
“I am sure it was a night our champions will never forget, and it will only make them hungrier for further success in 2024.
“We look forward to seeing who comes out on top in the FIM Speedway and FIM EWC events next year as WBD Sports Europe continues its preparations for another great season of action.”