SGP QUALIFIERS | DOYLE & HOLDER HEAD FOR FIM GP CHALLENGE

Aussie duo Jason Doyle and Jack Holder are five good rides away from securing their spots in the 2024 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series after qualifying for the FIM GP Challenge in Gislaved on August 19.Doyle topped the podium on 13 points in today’s qualifier at German track Abensberg, while Holder won the round at Hungarian venue Debrecen, also on 13. They progress to the Challenge, where the top three riders are certain of places in next season’s Speedway GP series.Doyle is joined in making it through the Abensberg round by Poland’s former Speedway GP rider Przemyslaw Pawlicki, who claimed second place after winning a run-off with French star Dimitri Berge and German ace Martin Smolinski. All three riders tied on 12 points and qualify. Pawlicki, who last raced in the Speedway GP series in 2018, will face off with younger brother Piotr, who qualified at Saturday’s round in Lonigo, Italy.Smolinski’s qualification for the Challenge is particularly remarkable as he was only due to be a track reserve initially, before replacing Austria’s representative Sébastian Kössler at the last minute.Danish racer Mads Hansen missed the cut on 11 points, with 2022 FIM GP Challenge winner Kim Nilsson of Sweden also out of the qualification running after scoring 10 points.Holder raced to victory in Debrecen, winning a run-off with Latvia’s Speedway GP first reserve Andzejs Lebedevs and former Danish Speedway GP regular Michael Jepsen Jensen after the trio tied on 13. All three riders reach the Challenge.The line-up is completed by double Swedish champion Jacob Thorssell, who was fourth on 12. Had that position been claimed by a rider from another nation, only the top three would have progressed from Debrecen, with a Swedish wild card selected to represent the host nation in Gislaved. Thorssell’s qualification ensures a wild card is not necessary and he will fly the Swedish flag in one of world speedway’s toughest meetings.Former British champion Adam Ellis just missed out on 11 points, with Poland’s Janusz Kolodziej and Germany’s Kai Huckenbeck eliminated on nine apiece.Today’s eight qualifiers are joined in the Challenge by the eight riders who qualified in Zarnovica and Lonigo on Saturday – Slovak star Martin Vaculik, former Polish champion Szymon Wozniak, American racer Luke Becker, Denmark’s Frederik Jakobsen, Poland’s Piotr Pawlicki, Czech star Jan Kvech and Italian duo Nicolas Covatti and Paco Castagna.FIM GP CHALLENGE LINE-UP (in no particular order): Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), Szymon Wozniak (Poland), Luke Becker (USA), Frederik Jakobsen (Denmark), Piotr Pawlicki (Poland), Nicolas Covatti (Italy), Jan Kvech (Czech Republic), Paco Castagna (Italy), Jason Doyle (Australia), Przemyslaw Pawlicki (Poland), Dimitri Berge (France), Martin Smolinski (Germany), Jack Holder (Australia), Andzejs Lebedevs (Latvia), Michael Jepsen Jensen (Denmark), Jacob Thorssell (Sweden).ABENSBERG SCORES: 1. Jason Doyle 13, 2. Przemyslaw Pawlicki 12+3, 3. Dimitri Berge 12+2, 4. Martin Smolinski 12+1, 5. Mads Hansen 11, 6. Kim Nilsson 10, 7. Norick Blodorn 9, 8. Kevin Wolbert 8, 9. Eduard Krcmar 7, 10. Jevgenijs Kostigovs 7, 11. Rohan Tungate 7, 12. Chris Harris 5, 13. Mika Meijer 3, 14. Glenn Moi 2, 15. Valentin Grobauer 1, 16. Gino Manzares 1, 17. Nicolo Percotti 0.DEBRECEN SCORES: 1. Jack Holder 13+3, 2. Andzejs Lebedevs 13+2, 3. Michael Jepsen Jensen 13+1, 4. Jacob Thorssell 12, 5. Adam Ellis 11, 6. Janusz Kolodziej 9, 7. Kai Huckenbeck 9, 8. Antti Vuolas 8, 9. Petr Chlupac 8, 10. Andreas Lyager 6, 11. Marko Levishyn 6, 12. Norbert Magosi 5, 13. Timi Salonen 4, 14. Roland Kovacs 2, 15. Andrei Popa 1, 16. Mark Barany 0, 17. Richard Fuzesi 0.

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EKSTRALIGA | DANISH DUO INSPIRE LIONS VICTORY

Danish racer Mikkel Michelsen led the Czestochowa charge on 14 points as the Lions triumphed 49-41 at home to Torun in the PGE Ekstraliga on Sunday.Michelsen dropped just one point over five rides and was well supported by his fellow two-time Speedway European Championship winner Leon Madsen, who piled up 11 paid 13, while Poland’s Kacper Woryna tallied 10.Former world No.3 Emil Sayfutdinov scored 12 for Torun, with Speedway GP star Robert Lambert adding 11 and Patryk Dudek picking up 10.Elsewhere, Slovak star Martin Vaculik warmed up for the Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic this Saturday by bagging 13 points for Gorzow as they won 57-33 at home to Leszno.His fellow FIM GP Challenge qualifier Szymon Wozniak bettered his total on 13 paid 14, while Danish star Anders Thomsen accrued 12 and Oskar Fajfer added eight paid 12.Former Polish champion Janusz Kolodziej led the Leszno score chart on 11 paid 12 points, with SGP2 qualifier Damian Ratajczak notching nine.Meanwhile, in the Polish First Division, Swedish star Kim Nilsson notched nine points as German club Landshut won 50-40 at home to Rybnik.For full details of Sunday’s PGE Ekstraliga results, scorers and the latest league table, click here: https://speedwayekstraliga.pl/en/ 

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SGP QUALIFIERS | VACULIK BOOKS FIM GP CHALLENGE SPOT WITH ZARNOVICA WIN

Slovak star Martin Vaculik took a giant stride closer towards sealing a 2024 FIM Speedway Grand Prix spot by booking his place at the FIM GP Challenge.Vaculik topped the podium on 14 points at the qualifying round in his home city Zarnovica on Saturday to secure his passage to the FIM GP Challenge at Swedish track Gislaved on August 19.The top three riders in the Challenge will be the first riders to qualify for the 2024 Speedway GP series, meaning Vaculik is just five good rides away from securing a return ticket for next season’s World Championship.He’s joined in Gislaved by former Polish champion Szymon Wozniak, who was second on 13 points.A run-off took place to decide the final two qualifiers after Speedway GP rider Robert Lambert tied on 12 points with Denmark’s Frederik Jakobsen and American racer Luke Becker.In one of the shocks of the round, both Becker and Jakobsen overhauled Lambert in the run-off to knock the world No.5 out of the qualifiers. But another top-six finish in this season’s Speedway GP series will also guarantee Lambert’s place in the 2024 SGP line-up.Triple Australian champion Max Fricke was also a surprise casualty in Zarnovica, exiting on 11 points, while former World Under-21 champion Bartosz Smektala fell short on nine. Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic wild card Vaclav Milik missed the cut on five.In the day’s other qualifier, former world No.6 Piotr Pawlicki edged closer to securing a Speedway GP return by winning his qualifier at Italian track Lonigo.The Wroclaw man won the meeting on 13 points on what turned out to be a special day for Italian speedway.Both home heroes Nicolas Covatti and Paco Castagna blazed through to the FIM GP Challenge on 12 points apiece, along with Czech shooting star Jan Kvech. The trio took part in a run-off for second place on the day, with Covatti taking victory ahead of Kvech and Castagna.Sweden’s Oliver Berntzon just missed out on 11 points, falling just short of taking his place at the FIM GP Challenge on his home track in Gislaved. But if no Swedish riders make it through the qualifiers at German track Abensberg or Hungarian circuit Debrecen on Monday, Berntzon could yet receive a wild card for the Challenge as the host nation is guaranteed a representative in the event.Former world No.3 Niels-Kristian Iversen also missed the cut in Lonigo on 10 points, while Finnish international Timo Lahti and former World Under-21 champion Jaimon Lidsey exited on nine and Great Britain star Tom Brennan fell short on eight.Three more Speedway GP riders bid for FIM GP Challenge places at the remaining qualifiers, with Jason Doyle and Kim Nilsson contesting the Abensberg round and Jack Holder heading to Debrecen.ZARNOVICA SCORES: 1 Martin Vaculik 14, 2 Szymon Wozniak 13, 3 Luke Becker 12+3, 4 Frederik Jakobsen 12+2, 5 Robert Lambert 12+1, 6 Max Fricke 11, 7 Bartosz Smektala 9, 8 Filip Hjelmland 8, 9 Nick Skorja 7, 10 Vaclav Milik 5, 11 Victor Palovaara 5, 12 Daniel Klima 4, 13 Nicolas Vicentin 3, 14 Lukas Fienhage 2, 15 Max Ruml 2, 16 Vitalii Lysak 1, 17 Jakub Valkovic 0.LONIGO SCORES: 1 Piotr Pawlicki 13, 2 Nicolas Covatti 12+3, 3 Jan Kvech 12+2, 4 Paco Castagna 12+1, 5 Oliver Berntzon 11, 6 Niels-Kristian Iversen 10, 7 Timo Lahti 9, 8 Jaimon Lidsey 9, 9 Tom Brennan 8, 10 Matic Ivacic 6, 11 Marius Hillebrand 5, 12 Mathias Tressarieu 4, 13 Carlos Eber Ampugnani 3, 14 Andrea Battaglia 2, 15 Facundo Cuello 2, 16 Denis Stojs 2, 17 Matteo Boncinelli DNR.ABENSBERG LINE-UP: 1 Gino Manzares (USA), 2 Mika Meijer (Netherlands), 3 Rohan Tungate (Australia), 4 Eduard Krcmar (Czech Republic), 5 Norick Blödorn (Germany), 6 Przemysław Pawlicki (Poland), 7 Mads Hansen (Denmark), 8 Dimitri Bergé (France), 9 Martin Smolinski (Germany), 10 Jason Doyle (Australia), 11 Kevin Wölbert (Germany), 12 Kim Nilsson (Sweden), 13 Glenn Moi (Norway), 14 Chris Harris (Great Britain), 15 Nicolo Percotti (Italy), 16 Jevgenijs Kostigovs (Latvia). RESERVE: 17 Valentin Grobauer (Germany).DEBRECEN LINE-UP: 1 Michael Jepsen Jensen (Denmark), 2 Andrei Popa (Romania), 3 Mark Barany (Hungary), 4 Norbert Magosi (Hungary), 5 Marko Levishyn (Ukraine), 6 Petr Chlupac (Czech Republic), 7 Andzejs Lebedevs (Latvia), 8 Kai Huckenbeck (Germany), 9 Janusz Kołodziej (Poland), 10 Andreas Lyager (Denmark), 11 Jack Holder (Australia), 12 Adam Ellis (Great Britain), 13 Jacob Thorssell (Sweden), 14 Roland Kovacs (Hungary), 15 Timi Salonen (Finland), 16 Antti Vuolas (Finland). RESERVE: 17 Richard Füzesi (Hungary). 

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SGP QUALIFIERS | LAMBERT CHASING SPEEDWAY GP MEDAL ALONGSIDE CHALLENGE BID

Great Britain racer Robert Lambert insists racing in the Speedway GP qualifiers won’t make him any less hungry for a World Championship medal as he lines up in Zarnovica on Saturday.The former European champion faces off with the likes of hometown hero Martin Vaculik and triple Australian champion Max Fricke at the Slovak circuit, where the top four riders earn places at the FIM GP Challenge on Lambert’s old home track Gislaved in Sweden on August 19.Lambert started his Speedway GP season with a second place and 18 championship points at the opening round in Croatia, before scoring five at the last round in Warsaw.He’s still fifth in the standings on 23 points – just 13 short of top two Bartosz Zmarzlik and Freddie Lindgren – and a top-six finish would be enough to qualify the world No.5 for the 2024 Speedway GP series automatically.While Lambert is chasing more than a top-six finish in this season’s Speedway GP series, he also sees the qualification rounds as another way to secure his spot for next year.He said: “The whole point of doing these qualification rounds is to take the pressure off the GPs. Last year I qualified on my own merit and finished fifth in the championship and that’s how I want to do it again this year.“But at the same time, the qualifiers are a bit of a back-up. If we go there and get the result, that’s great. If not, we can focus on the GPs.“The goal of the year is to get a medal and that’s still what I want to do. That doesn’t change by me racing these qualification rounds.”Lambert spent two seasons with Swedish side Lejonen – host club for the FIM GP Challenge. With only the top three riders in Gislaved booking their places in the 2024 Speedway GP series, the Norfolk star hopes his track knowledge will come in handy if he makes the qualification cut in Zarnovica.The Smederna star said: “I kind of know Gislaved pretty well. I knew in the middle of last season that the Challenge was going to be there. My old boss at Lejonen came up after the meeting when I was there with Smederna and told me. I don’t know if that was a ploy to try and get me back racing in Gislaved, but it didn’t work!“I have some good knowledge of the Gislaved track and in many kinds of conditions as well. That’s good to have and we will see after this weekend whether I need to use that knowledge or not.”Lambert, Vaculik and Fricke are joined in the Zarnovica qualifier by the likes of Czech charger Vaclav Milik, former World Under-21 champion Bartosz Smektala, former Polish champion Szymon Wozniak, Denmark’s Frederik Jakobsen and American international Luke Becker.Another qualifier also takes place at Italian club Lonigo on Saturday, where former Speedway GP stars Niels-Kristian Iversen, Piotr Pawlicki and Oliver Berntzon are bidding for Challenge places, along with the likes of former World Under-21 champion Jaimon Lidsey, GB star Tom Brennan, Finnish racer Timo Lahti, Czech international Jan Kvech and Italy’s Paco Castagna.There are two further Speedway GP qualification rounds at German track Abensberg and Hungarian circuit Debrecen on Monday.Former world champion Jason Doyle is among the contenders in Abensberg, along with Swedish Speedway GP rival Kim Nilsson. Former SGP stars Chris Harris and Przemyslaw Pawlicki also race in Bavaria, along with the likes of Aussie racer Rohan Tungate, Denmark’s Mads Hansen, French star Dimitri Berge and German SGP2 shooting star Norick Blodorn.Australian champion Jack Holder races in the Debrecen qualifier. He takes on the likes of Speedway GP first reserve Andzejs Lebedevs, German ace Kai Huckenbeck, Poland’s Janusz Kolodziej, Denmark’s Michael Jepsen Jensen, French racer David Bellego, double Swedish champion Jacob Thorssell, former British champion Adam Ellis, Finland’s Timi Salonen, Ukrainian star Marko Levishyn and Czech SGP2 rider Petr Chlupac.Four riders from each round qualify for the FIM GP Challenge, provided at least one rider from Sweden makes the cut. If not, only three riders progress from the Debrecen round and one Swedish wild card will be nominated for the Challenge.ZARNOVICA LINE-UP: 1 Lukas Fienhage (Germany), 2 Vitalii Lysak (Ukraine), 3 Daniel Klima (Czech Republic), 4 Bartosz Smektala (Poland), 5 Nick Skorja (Slovenia), 6 Filip Hjelmland (Sweden), 7 Luke Becker (USA), 8 Nicolas Vicentin (Italy), 9 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 10 Max Ruml (USA), 11 Victor Palovaara (Sweden), 12 Szymon Woźniak (Poland), 13 Robert Lambert (Great Britain), 14 Max Fricke (Australia), 15 Vaclav Milik (Czech Republic), 16 Frederik Jakobsen (Denmark). RESERVES: 17 Jakub Valkovic (Slovakia), 18 Adam Carada (Slovakia).LONIGO LINE-UP: 1 Matic Ivacic (Slovenia), 2 Michele Castagna (Italy), 3 Niels Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 4 Denis Stojs (Slovenia), 5 Oliver Berntzon (Sweden), 6 Tom Brennan (Great Britain), 7 Timo Lahti (Finland), 8 Piotr Pawlicki (Poland), 9 Marius Hillebrand (Germany), 10 Facundo Martin Cuello (Argentina), 11 Mathias Trésarrieu (France), 12 Nicolas Covatti (Italy), 13 Andrea Battaglia (Italy), 14 Jan Kvech (Czech Republic), 15 Jaimon Lidsey (Australia), 16 Eber Ampugnani (Argentina). RESERVE: 17 Matteo Boncinelli (Italy).ABENSBERG LINE-UP: 1 Gino Manzares (USA), 2 Mika Meijer (Netherlands), 3 Rohan Tungate (Australia), 4 Eduard Krcmar (Czech Republic), 5 Norick Blödorn (Germany), 6 Przemysław Pawlicki (Poland), 7 Mads Hansen (Denmark), 8 Dimitri Bergé (France), 9 Sébastian Kössler (Austria), 10 Jason Doyle (Australia), 11 Kevin Wölbert (Germany), 12 Kim Nilsson (Sweden), 13 Glenn Moi (Norway), 14 Chris Harris (Great Britain), 15 Nicolo Percotti (Italy), 16 Jevgenijs Kostigovs (Latvia). RESERVES: 17 Martin Smolinski (Germany), 18 Valentin Grobauer (Germany).DEBRECEN LINE-UP: 1 Michael Jepsen Jensen (Denmark), 2 Andrei Popa (Romania), 3 David Bellego (France), 4 Norbert Magosi (Hungary), 5 Marko Levishyn (Ukraine), 6 Petr Chlupac (Czech Republic), 7 Andzejs Lebedevs (Latvia), 8 Kai Huckenbeck (Germany), 9 Janusz Kołodziej (Poland), 10 Andreas Lyager (Denmark), 11 Jack Holder (Australia), 12 Adam Ellis (Great Britain), 13 Jacob Thorssell (Sweden), 14 Roland Kovacs (Hungary), 15 Timi Salonen (Finland), 16 Antti Vuolas (Finland). RESERVES: 17 Mark Barany (Hungary), 18 Richard Füzesi (Hungary).

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MICHELSEN MAKES SWEDISH MOVE TO VASTERVIK

Danish racer Mikkel Michelsen admits he looks forward to teaming up with Speedway GP rival Tai Woffinden as he returns to Sweden’s Bauhaus Elitserien with Vastervik.The Speedway GP star, who last raced in Sweden for Piraterna in 2019, replaces French international David Bellego in the side after he crashed out of Sheffield’s home match with King’s Lynn in Britain’s Sports Insure Premiership on Thursday.While it appears Michelsen may not race every match, he will make his debut for the coastal club at home to Rospiggarna on Tuesday.The double European champion faces off with new team mate Woffinden in the Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic on June 3. But he looks forward to lining up alongside him in Vastervik colours first. He told the club’s website: “I know most of the riders in Vastervik’s team and I'm glad we managed to find some gaps in the calendar to help the team in the situation they are in. “Morgan and I will have continuous contact to see how many meetings I have the chance to participate in, but I'm really looking forward to competing in the Bauhaus Elitserien again. “It will be extra fun to get to race with Tai, who I am good friends with. See you on Tuesday.”Vastervik has already recruited Swedish star Fredrik Lindgren to replace Aussie star Chris Holder, who suffered neck injuries in Grudziadz last month. So Vastervik’s sporting manager Morgan Andersson is pleased to have secured the services of another Speedway GP star.He said: “We have been working behind the scenes to find solutions to the injury problems we have, and these are both short-term and long-term solutions.“Mikkel and I had discussions last fall regarding a full season in Sweden, which unfortunately could not happen. But at the same time, Mikkel said that we could get in touch if there were problems during the season and that's where we are now. “We are very happy that Mikkel and his team have managed to find some gaps in their calendar to help the club in this situation we are in. “We will see how many matches there will be during the journey, but his debut will be on Tuesday against Rospiggarna.”

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