American racer Max Ruml booked his place in the 2023 FIM Speedway Grand Prix qualifiers after retaining the FIM North America Championship at Perris in California on Saturday.
The 2020 champion dropped just one point over five rides to top the podium on 14 in a meeting which decides the American entrants for the SGP World Championship qualifiers to be staged next summer.
He is joined in the international rounds by American FIM Speedway of Nations star Luke Becker, who scored 13 to take second place, while international colleague Broc Nicol took the third and final berth in the SGP qualifiers on 12.
But the night belonged to Ruml, who got the better of two riders that starred in Europe last summer.
The former Edinburgh man raced to three straight victories, before being beaten to the chequered flag by Nicol in heat 16. But Ruml hit back with a win over former Wolves rider Chris Kerr in heat 19 to secure top spot and follow up his AMA National title win earlier this year.
Becker will have started the night as favourite, having starred for the USA as they reached the Final Qualifier in Semi-Final 1 of this year’s SON. But Ruml got the better of him in his second outing, before USA under-21 rider Blake Borello defeated Greg Hancock’s protégée in their final ride.
Nicol was also forced to battle for his place in the SGP qualifiers. Despite winning his opener, a second behind Dillon Ruml in heat seven and a third behind Becker and Kerr in race 10 threatened to dash his hopes.
But Nicol responded with back-to-back wins, including his triumph over Max Ruml, to seal his shot at SGP qualification.
Aaron Fox took fourth place on 11 – a score matched by Kerr – while Max’s younger brother Dillon raced to 10 points and sixth spot.
Former Ipswich rider Gino Manzares notched nine and his qualification hopes ended in a heavy crash in heat 20, which saw him taken to hospital for checks. He was said to be feeling better the next day and was released after being kept in overnight for observation.
On a night he defeated Becker, Borello showed his potential as he accrued eight points along with Alex Martin.