Tuesday, June 5, 2018

RACE OFF 2 - MEET THE RIDERS!



THREE MORE MONSTER ENERGY SON FINALS PLACES ARE ON THE LINE IN MANCHESTER ON TUESDAY. HERE’S SPEEDWAYGP.COM'S GUIDE TO THE RACE OFF 2 STARS.

Three more Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Finals places are on the line at Race Off 2 in Manchester on Tuesday.
Here’s SpeedwayGP.com’s guide to the teams in action ...
GREAT BRITAIN
1 Tai Woffinden: The double world champion needs little introduction at the venue where he led the Lions to Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup silver in 2016 – their joint best performance in that competition.
Woffy has eight SGP wins and three British titles to his name and his two world championships put him among the nation’s all-time greats. Years of experience on the Wroclaw track, where he races his PGE Ekstraliga home meetings, could be invaluable if the Lions reach the Finals.
2 Craig Cook: The current British champion lines up on his SGB Premiership home track in Manchester, where he represents the Belle Vue Aces.
He made his full-time debut in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series this year and has found life tough, scoring four points from two rounds. But having qualified for the GP Challenge next month, Cook is picking up form and fighting for his place on the sport’s top stage.
3 Robert Lambert: GB’s under-21 reserve is one of the sport’s strongest junior riders and could have a huge role to play this week.
He is in red-hot form for British club King’s Lynn and won his second straight British Under-21 title at Berwick last month. The former World Under-21 bronze medallist is tipped as an SGP star of tomorrow.
SWEDEN
1 Fredrik Lindgren: The World Championship leader is in the form of his life and rapidly emerging as a favourite to become Sweden’s first world champion since the great Tony Rickardsson 2005.
He returns to the National Speedway Stadium for the first time since suffering a badly broken vertebra while racing for Wolverhampton there in an SGB Premiership play-off semi-final last September.
Lindgren won the Monster Energy SWC with his country in 2015 and will be seeking more gold in the SON.
2 Antonio Lindback: The Brazil-born racer exited the SGP series at the end of last season after finishing 12th, but Lindback remains one of the sport’s most gifted natural talents.
He scored a massive 20 points as Sweden won Monster Energy SWC silver in Leszno last July and a similar performance could put his side firmly in the title hunt again. With two SWC gold medals to his name, he’ll be keen to add to his collection in the Monster Energy SON.
3 Joel Kling: Kling has represented Dackarna in the Swedish Elitserien for a number of years.
While he is yet to make the grade internationally, the Monster Energy SON offers him the chance to make his mark.
AUSTRALIA
1 Jason Doyle: The world champion proudly flies the Aussie flag, determined to lead them to their first world team title since 2002.
With six SGP wins to his name, Doyle has established himself as one of the world’s top performers since joining the World Championship in 2015.
He’s no stranger to a British track as he races for Somerset in the SGB Premiership. He also won the title last season with Swindon.
2 Max Fricke: With Chris Holder unable to enter the UK due to visa concerns, the 2016 World Under-21 champion saw off stiff competition from the likes of Brady Kurtz, Jack Holder, Troy Batchelor and Sam Masters to partner Doyle.
Fricke has the huge advantage of having both the National Speedway Stadium and Wroclaw’s Olympic Stadium as his home tracks in Britain and Poland respectively.
3 Jaimon Lidsey: The Aussie Under-21 champion has been fearless in his efforts to get his European career started.
He has been given a big break by Polish club Rawicz in the Second Division. Despite taking his first steps into professional speedway in a country where he doesn’t speak the language, he is finding his feet quickly.
CZECH REPUBLIC
1 Vaclav Milik: Unquestionably one of the best riders outside the SGP series, Milik has firmly established himself as Czech speedway’s No.1.
He finished third in last year’s Czech SGP and has eight SGP appearances to his name. His intense, hard-charging style will leave all of his rivals taking a look over their shoulder in Manchester and Wroclaw, where he also races his home meetings in the PGE Ekstraliga.
2 Josef Franc: The vastly-experienced man from Prague has a lightening clutch hand and if he can team-ride with Milik, his starts could be crucial to the Czech Republic’s qualification hopes.
Franc famously reached the Czech SGP semi-finals in 2012, beating three world champions in one race – Jason Crump, Greg Hancock and Tomasz Gollob.
3 Jan Kvech: New to the international stage, Czech Republic’s under-21 rider will get a huge education if thrown into the action by boss Milan Spinka.
FRANCE
1 David Bellego: The Swindon star is five good rides away from becoming the first permanent French SGP rider after qualifying for the GP Challenge in Landshut on July 28.
Having played a huge role in Swindon’s SGB Premiership title triumph in 2017, he has proved he can mix it with the sport’s best. But this week is undoubtedly the biggest test of his career to date.
2 Dimitri Berge: A former World Under-21 finalist, Berge has shown considerable promise in his formative years.
He is no stranger to British shale, having raced for Glasgow, Redcar, Sheffield and Berwick at SGB Championship level.
ITALY
1 Nicolas Covatti: A multi-time Italian SGP wild card, Covatti is a regular on the international stage.
The Argentina-born man was within two laps of qualifying for the SGP series at the 2014 GP Challenge in Lonigo, only for the race to be stopped. Covatti couldn’t find the points he needed in the re-run, but the Ipswich rider gets his chance to mix it with the best in Manchester.
2 Paco Castagna: Son of FIM track racing boss and Italian racing great Armando Castagna, Paco has represented his country on the world stage for many years.
Having experienced Monster Energy SWC rounds, he will be determined to shine in a pairs event.
FINLAND
1 Timo Lahti: The Lejonen rider has big-time speedway experience, having served as Finnish SGP wild card in 2015.
He also represents Lejonen in the Swedish Elitserien and has produced some strong scores in one of the world’s toughest leagues. He also races for Griparna in the Swedish Allsvenskan league and for Latvian team Daugavpils, who ride in the Polish First Division.
2 Tero Aarnio: The 34-year-old is vastly experienced in British speedway and currently races for Newcastle in the SGB Championship.
He has competed in the SWC with his country, and will need to make that experience count against a tough field.