July 17, 2024
Speedway Hub - British Speedway News

FIM Speedway’s Female stars go for glory in first-ever FIM Women’s Speedway Gold Trophy – Preview & Rider List

FIM Speedway's Female stars go for glory in first-ever FIM Women’s Speedway Gold Trophy

German pioneer Celina Liebmann hopes the first-ever FIM Women’s Speedway Gold Trophy can evolve into a full world championship as 11 of the sport’s top female stars battle it out at German track Teterow on Saturday.

Riders from six different countries, including Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Argentina, have been taking part in the FIM Women’s Speedway Academy, receiving on-track coaching from four-time Speedway GP world champion Greg Hancock and former FIM Long Track team world champion Glen Phillips.

They have also received advice in other areas of the sport, including bike maintenance and setup, as well as fitness and media training, in their quest to follow Liebmann in establishing themselves as professional speedway riders.

Liebmann famously became the first rider to appear in an FIM Speedway final series, when she competed in the 2022 FIM SGP2 of Czech Republic – Prague and the 2022 FIM SGP2 of Poland – Torun. Now she races for the Workington Comets in Britain’s Cab Direct Championship.

After competing against men in recent years, Liebmann is delighted to see the sport’s female riders compete in an event of their own – and she would love to see it develop into a full world championship.

She said: “I think we will have some more girls in the coming years and maybe we can have SGPW – or something like that.

“The Women’s Academy started two years ago and it’s a brilliant opportunity for the girls to come together and have some practice with some experienced riders like Greg Hancock and Glen Phillips.

“It has really improved. We had less riders in the beginning and now we have riders from Argentina and Australia. It’s good to have girls from other countries and continents.

“They love to have the opportunity to ride with girls and have some opportunities to ride in Europe. In some countries, they don’t have that many races, so everyone loves to be here.”

Team Liebmann working hard in the pits in Prague in 2022

Liebmann will start as favourite to win the FIM Women’s Speedway Gold Trophy but knows she will have to deliver over 12 heats and a final to make history as the first women’s champion.

She said: “I think the first Gold Trophy will be just amazing. I will be going for gold. But if you go into your race as a favourite, that doesn’t mean you are going to win. Anything can happen. If someone else gets a better start, you need to pass them, so it’s not that easy.

“I need to be good; the bike needs to be good, but anything can happen. If you have a technical failure in the final, you are fourth.

“I want to say thank you to the FIM and their Women’s Commission. I am delighted to finally have a Women’s Gold Trophy. I have been waiting for this all my career. I am really pleased about it and hopefully we will have a German champion here.”

Liebmann in SGP2 action in 2022

American legend Hancock coached at the 2023 FIM Women’s Speedway Academy in Manchester and has been delighted to see the sport’s female stars develop. He said: “I have seen the growth and improvement the women have made in the last 12 months and how the level of competition is getting better.

“I have spent a lot of time with the riders, and we have been working on how they sit on the bike, their setup with the handlebars, seat positions and footrests. I can really show them things that can make their whole programme and future that much better. They welcomed every piece of advice with open arms. They gave feedback too and were talking about how they felt. They told me what they wanted to learn on the track.

“This project has really, really grown in a year – massively – and I look forward to seeing what happens in the first official FIM Women’s Speedway Gold Trophy. It’s great that we have a women’s programme that could potentially turn into a full world championship.

“We have had some women jump into the game before, but here they truly are realising, ‘I can do this too and I can be competitive.’ Some of these women can run really strong with the guys of today.”

FIM Track Racing Commission director Armando Castagna

FIM Track Racing Commission director Armando Castagna has also been delighted to offer his words of advice to the sport’s female riders.

He said: “I am very proud to be part of this project. We started the FIM Women’s Speedway Academy a couple of years ago in Germany and some of the women that were at the first one are back again this weekend and racing on Saturday.

“I am honoured and proud to be part of this, especially having Greg Hancock and Glen Phillips here to coach them, as well as the team of women who are part of the FIM Track Racing Commission, working hard to deliver this weekend in the best way possible.

“We thank our promoter Warner Bros. Discovery Sports for being present throughout the weekend to help us with media coverage, which I am very happy about.

“This event is the way to show women can do speedway as well. Celina is a pioneer in the sport and has shown that women can deserve a place in club squads across Europe. I am sure these riders will get better with every day of the academy, and hopefully on Saturday, we will have a good final to watch.”

FIM WOMEN’S SPEEDWAY GOLD TROPHY LINE-UP:

1 (167) Anika Loftus (Australia)

2 (21) Micaela Bazan (Argentina)

3 (5) Nynke Sijbesma (The Netherlands)

4 (36) Rachel Hellowell (Great Britain)

5 (289) Celina Liebmann (Germany)

6 (15) Mascha Schwend (Germany)

7 (333) Katie Gordon (Great Britain)

8 (179) Jenny Apfelbeck (Germany)

9 (887) Hannah Grunwald (Germany)

10 (94) Audrey Dupuy (France)

11 (324) Patricia Erhart (Germany)

Words and Images by Speedway GP

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