Troy Batchelor permanent wildcard
The FIM Speedway Grand Prix Commission has today confirmed the four permanent wild cards for the 2015 FIM Speedway Grand Prix (SGP) series.
Australia’s Troy Batchelor, Danish duo Niels-Kristian Iversen and Michael Jepsen Jensen and Swedish champion Tomas H Jonasson have all been handed a coveted berth in next year’s World Championship.
The quartet received their call-ups from the SGP Commission, who met following last Saturday’s season-closing Borygo Torun FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland.
Former Aussie champion and Danish SGP runner-up Batchelor was rewarded for finishing a creditable ninth in his World Championship debut season, despite only being called up for the series a month before the opening round in Auckland.
Iversen’s year was cruelly ended by serious knee ligament damage suffered in the Gorzow SGP of Poland on August 30.
But the 2013 bronze medallist, who was fourth in the standings prior to that meeting, still enjoyed a stellar season, winning Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup gold with Denmark, the Danish SGP in Copenhagen and his third straight Danish Championship.
Jepsen Jensen, who crashed out of Saturday’s Borygo Torun SGP with a broken collarbone, qualified as this season’s first reserve and raced in six rounds, reaching the semi-finals in Copenhagen, Cardiff and Gorzow, where he reached the final and finished fourth.
This was some achievement in a year blighted by the serious hip and back injuries he suffered in a pre-season crash while racing for Polish club Czestochowa in March.
Away from the track, the 2012 Monster Energy SWC winner and FIM Speedway Under-21 World Champion supported his father and mentor Jan in his successful fight with throat cancer, and Jepsen Jensen Senior will be keen to aid his son’s progress throughout his SGP debut season.
Fellow World Championship new boy Jonasson (THJ) has enjoyed the year of his life, and capped it off by winning his first Swedish Championship at Nykoping in September.
He was also his country’s star man in the Monster Energy SWC and won the Swedish Elitserien championship with hometown club Vetlanda.
The wild-card quartet join this year’s World Championship top eight, which features new champion Greg Hancock, Krzysztof Kasprzak, Nicki Pedersen, Tai Woffinden, Matej Zagar, Andreas Jonsson, Chris Holder and Jaroslaw Hampel.
GP Challenge qualifiers Jason Doyle, Chris Harris and Maciej Janowski complete the full-time SGP field.
The full rider line-up, complete with rider numbers, will be announced on Friday (October 17).