Latvian hero Andzejs Lebedevs hopes Riga racer Francis Gusts can emerge as the country’s next big star as he plots an FIM Speedway of Nations medal bid in the coming years.

Gusts leads Latvia’s under-21 side as they go for DeWalt FIM SON2 gold at Riga’s Bikernieki Speedway Stadium on Friday, taking on 15-time FIM Team Speedway Under-21 world champions Poland, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Denmark, Australia and Germany.

Lebedevs then flies the Latvian flag on Saturday when the OlyBet FIM Speedway GP of Latvia – Riga takes place at a sold-out Bikernieki, which stages the country’s first SGP event since 2017.

While Latvia does not have the talent pool enjoyed by nations like Poland, Denmark, Britain and Australia, Lebedevs has high hopes for Gusts, who is a member of the SGP2 series and topped the score chart on 22 points at the 2022 SON2 event in Vojens as Latvia finished fourth.

The pair teamed up to take Latvia to its first world team final at the 2021 FIM Speedway of Nations in Manchester, where they finished sixth.

With only two top riders needed for a country to push for FIM SON gold, Lebedevs hopes Gusts can be the partner he needs to make more history and improve on their 2021 result in the coming years.

He said: “Francis is one of the biggest talents from Latvia. I really keep my fingers crossed for him and his career. My dream is to have a teammate who can be better than me or at the same level, and then we can push each other to the front. Maybe then we can show something in the Speedway of Nations, for example. 

“I hope this time comes really soon and I have this teammate like Francis. Hopefully he shows what he can really do, and we can soon make a dream team for Latvia.”

Lebedevs may not be racing in Riga until Saturday night, but he’s planning to be trackside on Friday as he backs his young compatriots to go for DeWalt FIM SON2 glory.

He said: “I will support the guys from the pits on Friday. I will do whatever is possible for my colleagues from the national team.  

“Francis comes from Riga. This is his real home track, and he knows this track really well. I hope he leads from the front, takes his teammates with him and they push hard.

“If they make the final, anything can happen. Hopefully being on our home track will be the key for success and we can win an historic first medal for the Latvian team.”