Swedish Speedway GP legend Tony Rickardsson was delighted with the success of last Saturday’s SGP4 launch Malilla and looks forward to welcoming more nations into the FIM Speedway Youth World Cup.

As part of their vision to build a strong youth-development pyramid, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports tasked six-time world champion Rickardsson with designing a youth bike for riders taking their first steps into the sport.

Young riders aged 11-13 from 12 different countries and four different continents competed on the Daytona FS Anima 190cc-powered bike, taking part in two practice sessions, before racing in front of nearly 1,000 fans on the Malilla training track on Saturday afternoon.

Danish shooting star Elias Jamil took victory with a 15-point maximum, with Australia’s Cooper Antone second and Denmark’s Niklas Bager third after winning a run-off with Aussie racer Kobi Canning.

Youngsters were given free entry to the competition with the bikes supplied by Warner Bros. Discovery Sports – maintained by Rickardsson’s professional team, led by his former mechanic Tomasz Suskiewicz. Families were only required to cover travel costs as they journeyed from as far afield as Australia, the US and Argentina to take part. 

Rickardsson was elated with the progress made by the SGP4 class of 2023. 

He said: “We have to realise that even if we had a couple of practices, these guys had only been on those bikes for eight minutes on the Friday and four and a half minutes on the Saturday if you are looking at track time. “The shape of this training track makes it really difficult to ride and that put a lot of pressure on me and the riders. But if they can ride this track with its long straights and really tight corners, they can ride any track with this bike. “For them to have raced the bikes the way they did, wow! I am blown away. Well done to the riders and well done to their parents who make this all happen. “I have also never seen that many people at a mini speedway event. I think quite a few of the fans will have gone home pretty happy with what they saw. We saw some great racing and some huge courage from the young kids, passing each other inside and outside. “I was surprised how good they were. It was a lot of pressure for these young kids – not only riding new bikes but also having the cameras on them and being at the GP circuit. I am really impressed with the whole weekend.”
Tapes up for SGP4 in Malilla. PHOTO: Jarek PabijanTapes up for SGP4 in Malilla. PHOTO: Jarek Pabijan

FIM Track Racing Commission (CCP) director Armando Castagna is pleased to have added the new SGP4 class to the sport’s pyramid.

He said: “Together with Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, we have been working very hard to implement this new class. I have been working very closely with Tony to develop a class that will be similar to junior MotoGP. We are following what has been happening in other disciplines.

“Some 10-plus years ago, it was one of my missions to develop the 250cc class, which has become a world championship and now it is SGP3. SGP4 is the next step for the younger kids.

“For me, this is a fantastic way to have kids start at 11 and go to the GPs. These things didn’t even exist in the past. I remember when I started, I had to start on a 500cc bike. Everybody did. Our new system is something exceptional. You give a kid the chance to jump on a speedway bike that’s not a monster 500cc.

“I am very happy with the support of many federations. In these youth projects, we need to be united. We are talking about kids here. We need to support the youth programmes as much as we can. I hope that next year we will be able to send riders from other speedway countries.”

SGP4 winner Elias Jamil on the way to a 15-point maximum. PHOTO: Jarek PabijanSGP4 winner Elias Jamil on the way to a 15-point maximum. PHOTO: Jarek Pabijan

Castagna also hopes the SGP4 bike will lower costs for riders and families as only minimal maintenance can be carried out on the bikes, with engine tuning banned to ensure a level playing field.

He said: “We have been testing the machines and the main reason we chose this bike was because we wanted to stop the tuning of these engines and cut the costs for the families. 

“The decision taken by the FIM and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports is to keep the bike and the engine standard to save money for the people who are involved in the sport. You can maintain the bike, but you can’t tune it.”

Rickardsson worked with a number of riders to develop the SGP4 bike, including Poland’s SGP3 FIM Speedway Youth World Championship silver medallist Maksymilian Pawelczak.

TR echoed Castagna’s desire to expand the project to more speedway nations. He said: “Everybody is welcome into this project. But this is not a class that should take over different countries’ national classes. They should keep the classes they have. But this class gives youngsters the chance to come together and race on equal terms.

“This will be an extra option and I hope this will continue for many years to come, make the youngsters happy and give them a nice stepping stone on to the next size bike.”

SGP4 top three Elias Jamil (centre), Cooper Antone (left) and Niklas Bager (right) with Tony Rickardsson. PHOTO: Jarek PabijanSGP4 top three Elias Jamil (centre), Cooper Antone (left) and Niklas Bager (right) with Tony Rickardsson. PHOTO: Jarek Pabijan

As part of the SGP4 weekend, riders took part in an exercise celebrating the value of sport, what it can offer and what can be learned from racing, with each of the competitors writing down a word they associate with sport in English and their own language.

These values included fair play, respect, discipline, team spirit and friendship – skills that can help the young riders in their daily lives, not just on the track as SGP4 marked the United Nations’ World Youth Skills Day on July 15. 

FIM Speedway championships director Laura Manciet was also pleased with the success of the inaugural SGP4 event and riders’ response to the chance to be part of the Holmgrens Bil FIM Speedway GP of Sweden – Malilla weekend.

She said: “It was an absolute pleasure to witness the smiles on the young riders’ faces as they came back into the pits after riding the SGP4 bike and we look forward to giving this opportunity to another talented group of young riders from around the world in 2024.

“The crowd for a youth speedway event is something we have never witnessed before, and the young riders also enjoyed the opportunity to ride out with their Speedway GP heroes on the main Malilla racetrack in the evening.

“I know many of the Speedway GP riders watched them race in the afternoon and I am sure rubbing shoulders with the world’s best riders will have only inspired them to reach the next level.

“We thank Tony Rickardsson and his team for all their hard work and also our partners at the FIM, and we look forward to seeing the SGP4 bikes back on track next year.”

The SGP4 bike is now available to order. For more information or to make a purchase, please visit www.minispeedway.pl

Tony Rickardsson leads the SGP4 class of 2023 into action. PHOTO: Jarek PabijanTony Rickardsson leads the SGP4 class of 2023 into action. PHOTO: Jarek Pabijan