10 THINGS WE'RE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2020
With the FIM Speedway Grand Prix season just over four months away, SpeedwayGP.com brings you 10 things we’re looking forward in 2020.
14 / 01 / 2020, 12:00
With the FIM Speedway Grand Prix season just over four months away, SpeedwayGP.com brings you 10 things we’re looking forward to ahead of the SGP 2020 season …
1. 20 Years of Cardiff
When SGP racing launched under the iconic Principality Stadium roof on June 9, 2001, it marked the start of a new era for the sport.
Cardiff was the first of the SGP series’ big-city, big-stadium meetings and over 40,000 fans still flock to the Welsh capital for Britain’s biggest indoor motorsport event.
Experience the sport at its most spectacular on July 18 as the Adrian Flux British SGP heads for Principality Stadium for the 20th time on a night of high drama, epic action and big surprises. Can Britain’s Tai Woffinden win the big one for the first time?
2. 50 Years of Hancock
History will be made on June 3, when four-time world champion Greg Hancock becomes the first active, full-time SGP rider to celebrate their 50th birthday.
The idea of a sportsman toasting their half-century while still mixing it at the top level in such a high-risk sport is almost unprecedented. But Hancock’s unique will to win have driven him to an incredible 218 SGP appearances, 92 finals, 21 wins and 2,655 points.
He sat out 2019 to care for wife Jennie during her battle with breast cancer, as well as supporting their sons Wilbur, Bill and Karl. It would be awesome to see one of the sport’s all-time greats back on the shale in 2020.
3. Final showdowns
A change to the SGP scoring system for 2020 means the only way of taking home the most World Championship points from an FIM Speedway Grand Prix event is winning the final.
In previous years, riders were awarded a championship points for each point they scored in their heats, semis and finals. This year, final winners are awarded 20 points, with 18 for the runner-up, 16 for the rider in third and 14 for fourth.
Even if a rider scores a 15-point maximum in the heats, there is still work to be done at the business end of the meeting. Who will get the best of the final showdowns in SGP 2020?
4. Wild card Woffinden
One man who will be determined to break back into the FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship picture is Great Britain’s most successful speedway star Tai Woffinden.
He was handed a wild-card entry for this year by the SGP Commission after falling short of qualification in a year blighted by the back injury which sidelined him for two months from early June.
With a clean bill of health and some fast engines, Woffinden will be determined to return to the form that saw him reach the world’s top four every year from 2013 to 2018 – winning three world titles along the way.
5. Russian Revolution
For the first time ever, the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series heads for Russia as Togliatti’s Anatoly Stepanov Stadium stages the Russian SGP on August 29.
Russia may have lifted the Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations title there in 2019, but it will be every man for himself this summer as Emil Sayfutdinov and Artem Laguta go for glory on home shale with a packed stadium set to cheer them on.
They have already made Russian history as the nation’s first-ever world team champions; now they will be out to become the first Russian SGP winners.
6. Rocking Wroclaw
Anyone lucky enough to get a ticket to the Betard Wroclaw SGP last summer witnessed one of the all-time great nights of FIM Speedway Grand Prix action.
With more passing than you see on London’s M25 on a Friday afternoon, it was a night of racing you couldn’t take your eyes off.
The action is back at the storied Olympic Stadium on August 1. Can Bartosz Zmarzlik top the box again or will hometown hero Maciej Janowski send the locals wild? This is one you won’t want to miss!
7. A fit Leon Madsen
Speedway riders are made of materials so tough that they continue to baffle even the world’s most elite doctors.
How Danish racer Leon Madsen finished second in the world with two cracked discs in his back and a fractured ankle is anyone’s guess.
Had the new SGP scoring system been in place last year, he would have been crowned world champion. He reached seven out of 10 finals in 2019 – can he repeat the feat and go one place better in 2020?
8. The new kid on the block
There’s only one fresh addition to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix line-up for 2020, but it’s a good one! Newly-crowned double Australian champion Max Fricke makes the step into the full line-up.
He showed his huge potential in 2019, topping the heat scorechart in Prague, before reaching his first final in Hallstavik, finishing fourth.
Having won his national title at a canter against some solid competition, Fricke will be confident and ready to make his mark on the sport’s biggest stage.
9. The Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations
Before the SGP action gets started, the Monster Energy SON provides the perfect warm-up as 15 countries battle it out to be crowned world champions.
Three teams from each of the two semi-finals in Landshut (April 25) and Daugavpils (May 2) join hosts Great Britain in the Final at Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium on May 8 and 9.
With the Brits still searching for their first world title since 1989, having been cruelly denied gold at the 2018 Final in Wroclaw, Tai Woffinden and his side will be determined to end the wait on home shale. With tickets set to sell fast, this is one Bank Holiday weekend you won’t want to miss!
10. Poland’s new icon
Last but definitely not least – we can’t wait to see Poland’s new world champion and Athlete of the Year Bartosz Zmarzlik launch his title defence at Warsaw’s PGE Narodowy on May 16.
The Gorzow hero is set to get a huge reception in his national stadium as he starts a huge year – one in which the eyes of a nation will be fixed upon him.
The attention may take some getting used to for this humble hero. But Zmarzlik has never been better equipped to deal with the spotlight and the 24-year-old has every chance of joining Tony Rickardsson and Nicki Pedersen in the realm of back-to-back SGP champions.