2017 Speedway Grand Prix series launches in Slovenia
Slovenia will launch the 2017 FIM Speedway GP series launch on Saturday with Greg Hancock setting out to defend his title against what is being called one of the strongest fields in history.
The world’s top riders head to Krsko for the Aztorin Slovenian SGP – the first of 12 rounds taking in nine different countries – with the series culminating with the QBE Insurance Australian SGP at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on October 28.
Hancock is one of four SGP world champions in the line-up, joining triple world champion Nicki Pedersen of Denmark, two-time winner Tai Woffinden of Great Britain and 2012 gold medallist Chris Holder from Australia.
Hancock admits he faces stiff competition from top to bottom as he bids to become one of the World Championship’s top four riders of all time and lift title No.5.
“It’s a really tough field that the Grand Prix has this year. Even last year I felt it was getting even more consistent from No.1 to No.15, so you know points are going to be much more difficult to come by. You have to be on your game. I can’t say it’s the toughest because I’ve had some pretty tough years and that would be pretty disrespectful to previous years. Speedway has never been easy. But I feel pretty good and I love my racing. While I love it, I want to be the best I can and I put pretty high goals on my year. I try to achieve those goals, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As long as I know I’m on par, I go with it. It’s serious when I get up there and I’m the world’s worst self-critic. It’s the beginning of the year once again and everyone is talking about it, so it’s time to get down to business!”
Russian racer and double World Under-21 champion Emil Sayfutdinov is expected to make a big splash on his return to the World Championship after three seasons out after receiving a permanent wild card.
Meanwhile, Polish champion Patryk Dudek and Slovak No.1 Martin Vaculik join the line-up for 2017 after making it through the GP Challenge, along with Fredrik Lindgren.
Aussie ace Jason Doyle will be determined to make up for an agonising end to 2016, crashing out of the title race at the penultimate round in Torun, despite racing into a five-point lead at the top of the World Championship after winning four of last year’s 11 events.
New world No.3 Bartosz Zmarzlik will also have title aspirations, along with Piotr Pawlicki, Antonio Lindback, Niels-Kristian Iversen, Matej Zagar and Maciej Janowski.
2017 FIM Speedway Grand Prix Line-up (in ranking order with rider numbers)
45 Greg Hancock (USA)
108 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain)
95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland)
23 Chris Holder (Australia)
69 Jason Doyle (Australia)
777 Piotr Pawlicki (Poland)
85 Antonio Lindback (Sweden)
88 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark)
55 Matej Zagar (Slovenia)
71 Maciej Janowski (Poland)
66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden)
12 Nicki Pedersen (Denmark)
692 Patryk Dudek (Poland)
54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia)
89 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia)
25 Peter Kildemand (Denmark)
84 Martin Smolinski (Germany)
46 Max Fricke (Australia)
Follow the race for FIM Speedway Grand Prix glory on SpeedwayGP.com.
2017 FIM Speedway Grand Prix Calendar
April 29: Aztorin Slovenian FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Krsko)
May 13: Lotto Warsaw FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland (Warsaw)
May 27: Rietumu Bank Latvian FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Daugavpils)
June 10: Mitas Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Prague)
June 24: Kjærgaard Danish FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Horsens)
July 22: Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Cardiff)
August 12: Teng Tools Swedish FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Malilla)
August 26: MIB Nordic Gorzow FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland (Gorzow)
September 9: German FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Teterow)
September 23: Stockholm FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Stockholm)
October 7: Torun FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland (Torun)
October 28: QBE Insurance Australian FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Melbourne)
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