ADAMS BAFFLED BY POLISH CHANGES
Aussie icon Leigh Adams believes limiting Polish Ekstraliga riders to racing in just two other leagues is “completely crazy.”
The Mildura-based great has been casting his eye over the next generation of potential FIM Speedway Grand Prix stars at the Australian Championship rounds, which continue at Victorian track Undera on Wednesday.
The former world No.2 achieved legendary status at Polish club Leszno, where he raced from 1996 until his retirement in 2010. He also became a hero at British side Swindon, where he spent 12 seasons in three separate spells between 1990 and 2010.
"Some of my best times were those when I did lots of meetings. I was busy and I thought ‘it’s a lot’, but it was good for my results. I can’t stand what Polish speedway is doing."
- Leigh Adams
Adams spent much of his career racing in Poland, Britain and Sweden, where he enjoyed an eight-year stint with Masarna between 2000 and 2008.
But with Ekstraliga bosses cracking down on how many leagues a rider can race and insisting its stars guarantee their availability for rained-off meetings in the event of a league fixture clash abroad, some riders are being forced to choose between racing in their national league and the Danish or British leagues.
The measures have prompted SGP star Niels-Kristian Iversen to exit the SGB Premiership, while Swindon’s efforts to sign Peter Kildemand were also scuppered as both opted to continue racing in Denmark, alongside Poland and Sweden.
Having enjoyed a busy career, Adams is baffled by the changes. He said: “It’s completely crazy. Some of my best times were those when I did lots of meetings. I was busy and I thought ‘it’s a lot’, but it was good for my results. I can’t stand what Polish speedway is doing.”
Adams occupies his time these days by working with Aussie speedway’s next generation. He said: “What I do mostly is working with 125cc junior bikes.
“There are some talented kids, so I hope some of them will become famous names. Some of them, like Matthew ‘Happy’ Gilmore and Jaimon Lidsey have already gone into the 500s class. I still try to take care of them as much as I can.”
Asked how long he believes it will be before we see them in Europe, he replied: “In two years. They probably need this season in Australia, the Australian winter and another full season. They are looking good; they are coming on well.”
One young Aussie who won’t be battling to join them in the professional ranks is Adams’ son Declan. “He won’t be a rider,” Leigh revealed. “He’s not riding speedway anymore and switched to go-karts. He still helps as a mechanic to some boys but his path in speedway is over.”
On top of his efforts with the juniors, Adams continues his rehabilitation from the serious spinal injuries he suffered in 2011, which have left him confined to a wheelchair.
While fellow Aussie legend Darcy Ward has made a return trip to Europe since heading home after his own career-ending crash in 2015, Adams is yet to visit his former stomping ground.
Asked whether he plans to head back, he said: “Sure, one day... but it would be so hard. It’s so hard to travel. I was surprised by Darcy that he succeeded in that. It’s always hard to fly having health problems like this.”
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