June 24, 2024
Speedway Hub - British Speedway News

Leon Flint among the talented twelve who progress to SGP2 Finals

Leon Flint among the talented twelve who progress to SGP2 Finals

Following the three Qualifying rounds staged on Saturday in Germany, Italy and France, the twelve fast-rising talents progressing to the Finals of the 2024 FIM Speedway Under 21 World Championship (SGP2) have been decided on what was a stand-out night for the sport.

With the top four from each round making the cut for the three-round Final series, the competition was fierce as the world’s best up-and-coming riders fought it out for what could be a career-changing boost up the ladder towards a place in the elite FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship (SGP).

The evening’s action kicked off in the Motodrom Ludwigslust in northern Germany where there was a truly international tie for the lead after the opening block of Heats with Nazar Parnitskyi from the Ukraine, Polish rider Bartosz Bańbor, Australian Michael West and Norway’s Mathias Pollestad all getting off to winning starts.

Parnitskyi, Bańbor and Pollestad won their second Heats before the seventeen-year-old Ukrainian pulled clear, recording a clean sweep of victories and topping the podium with a perfect score to leave his rivals to fight it out for the remaining Finals places.

After a solid if unspectacular start to the evening, Danish rider Jesper Knudsen found his form with victories in his three final Heats tying him for second with Pollestad who finished last year’s SGP2 series in sixth. Knudsen won the Run-Off to decide the meeting podium with the vital remaining position in the top four going to Philip Hellström-Bängs from Sweden.

It was closer in the Terenzano Speedway Arena in north-east Italy where no single rider was able to dominate, but after dropping just one point all evening fast-paced Pole Sebastian Szostak booked his Finals place from the top step of the podium. Hoping to emulate his compatriot Bartosz Zmarzlik who won the 2015 SGP2 title and is now a four-time SGP champion, Szostak was beaten into second in his opening Heat and then never headed again.

With three wins and two seconds, the runner-up at Terenzano was eighteen-year-old Dane Bastian Pedersen – the nephew of SGP legend Nicki Pedersen – before a three-way tie for third between Poland’s Jakub Krawczyk, last season’s tenth-ranked SGP2 rider Francis Gusts from Latvia and Dane Villads Nagel.

With everything resting on the Run-Off, Krawczyk and Gusts kept their cool under pressure to book their places in the Finals.

The last Qualifying round to be staged, the action from the Circuit de la Grisière at Mâcon in France was streamed LIVE on FIM-MOTO-TV and a large global audience was treated to a thrilling programme of floodlit racing for the remaining four Qualifying places in the Finals.

Sweden’s Caspar Henriksson – the highest-ranked rider in the Qualifying rounds after he finished last year’s SGP2 series in fifth – topped the French podium, but was denied a maximum score in his fifth and final Heat of the night when he was beaten by highly-rated Polish racer Wiktor Przyjemski.

After winning his opening Heat and then dropping two points in his second race, Przyjemski dug deep and was a comfortable second after signing off with three consecutive victories, but the podium positions – and the last two remaining Qualifying positions – went down to a three-rider Run-Off when the Danish duo of William Drejer and Mikkel Andersen tied with Great Britain’s Leon Flint on twelve points following the Heat races.

In a candidate for race of the night, Flint led the Run-Off until the final lap when Drejer forced his way through to the front, although when Andersen crashed in the last corner the young British rider knew he had booked his place in the Finals.

Saturday’s twelve qualifiers will be joined in the three Finals by three FIM SGP Commission season wild cards along with one local wild card and two track reserves chosen by the relevant National Federation. The first Final is scheduled for Målilla in Sweden on 14 June followed by Riga in Latvia on 6 September. The winner will then be crowned on 27 September at Toruń in Poland.

Words by FIM Europe – Feature Image by Jesper Veldhuizen

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