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SVEMO put Swedish motorsports on hold indefinitely

SVEMO has dealt two hammer blows in just two days to the prospects on seeing live speedway in Sweden this season.

Yesterday the organization announced that all riders from foreign countries, particularly naming Denmark, were not allow to participate in tournaments in Sweden. At the same Swedes are forbidden to take part in events outside the country.

SVEMO is the governing body for all Swedish motorsports and in practice the only speedway league that would be affected by an international ban is the top division, the Bauhaus Elitserien. This has already been rescheduled to start on 2 June.

As reported earlier by Five One Racing, the Allsvenskan could probably still have worked with only Swedish riders.

However, today SVEMO made another announcement which puts pay to any idea that Allsvenskan could start as planned on 14 May. They dropped the bombshell that all motorsports in Sweden are on hold until further notice.

With growing concern in the country about the Coronavirus as deaths go up to 239, the changes come as no real surprise as Sweden slowly follow the other European nations towards a total lockdown of society.

It is the change in regulations that the Swedish health department brought in last Friday that has meant that SVEMO has taken drastic action, as public gatherings are reduced from 500 people to just 50 - in practice making all sporting events economically nonviable.

The organisation has even offered to pay back riders their entry fees back for events that they were due to participate in.

Training rides, however, are still allowed. But if you were thinking of attending to get your live speedway fix, think again. Only the rider and immediate support team are permitted to attend. Not even family members are allowed, as I found out when I spoke to the partner of Johan Jensen, 23 year old Swedish rider who raced with Vetlanda in Elitserien and Team Småland in Allsvenskan in 2019.

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Five One Racing

Club and International Speedway on hold across Europe

With March all but over speedway fans would normally counting down the minutes until the tapes lift for the first time, checking out the new signings pre-season form and wondering will this be the year they finally get to win the championship.

But this year the only checking of the schedules is to see when the event is cancelled and if any new dates have been posted.

The Danish Metal League has only moved by one week to 29 April, but this will surely be further delayed as currently groups of more than 10 are not permitted.

Poland and Britain have delayed their season with no definitive date in place, whilst the Swedish Bauhaus Elitserien have gone for a start on 2 June in a hope that they will not need to adjust it again later on.

The BSI flagship event, the Monster Energy Speedway of Nations has been cancelled and even their first SGP event in Warsaw has been pur on hold.

The One Sport events of the Speedway European Championship and U21 World Championship have, as yet, been unaffected but some of the qualifiers for the SEC organized by FIM have been pushed back.

As previously announced by Five One Racing, the Euro Ice Speedway Championship has been moved to August - which will be a great celebration of this sport at an in unusual time of year - if it does indeed go ahead.

Uncertainty seems to be the only thing that we can be certain of and the only speedway we’ll be watching before June looks most likely to be re-runs than live events.

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Five One Racing

Euro Ice Speedway Championship to be held in August

Covid-19 continues to cause chaos across the world as the year's speedway schedules are thrown away and re-written and is pushed to later in the year with the hope that the situation will improve.

One remarkable rescheduling is the European Ice Speedway Championship, which was due to be held in Poland in March. It was one of the first events to be cancelled as the virus spread across Europe and the Ice Speedway season was brought to a hasty conclusion.

That following a very mild winter in Europe with many matches cancelled due to + temperatures.

But now, according to the FIM Europe calendar, the Ice Speedway Euro Championship has been reschedule - to the middle of summer - 8 August, to be precise.

As the venue in Tomaszow Mazowiecki is an indoor arena this is not as bizarre as it might at first seem, but it will surely be a first in Ice Speedway history to have a flagship event for this winter sport whilst there is blazing summer sun shining outside.

The 2020 speedway season across Europe is in limbo - no one really knows if any of the events are actually going to take place at all. A further mystery with this unusual rescheduling is the host's website, www.IceEuro.com, still says the event is cancelled and the FIM have not reported in any of their sections (apart from the calendar) that the event is going to happen in August.

Five One Racing has been unable to confirm from the Swedish riders who are due to take part in the competition whether or not they have received a second invitation.

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Five One Racing

Elitserien: one month delay to start to the Swedish speedway season

In line with the rest of the speedway world, the Swedish Bauhaus Elitserien will have a delayed start and a series of other measures have been announced to ensure that the season will be able to be completed, assuming no worsening of the situation around the Coronavirus.

The Elitserien will start a month later than planned on 2 June and the first four rounds of the season will be moved to elsewhere in the calendar.

At the same time they have cancelled the quarterfinals so only the top four clubs can go into the post season.

They have also dramatically changed the rules to make sure there are enough riders for each match. They will allow guest riders, lower the average from 8.500 to 8.000 enabling more riders to be eligible for racing and changed rules around transfers allowing seven instead of three. This will surely mean an increase in younger Swedish riders filling up spaces left by Poles and Danes who may be on the team's roster, but are unable to travel to the country.

Picture shows Swedish talent Phillip Hellström-Bängs (right), who was only 17 yrs this week, chatting with three times world champion, Tai Woffinden before an Indianerna v Masarna match in 2019 in Avesta.

Original article in Swedish: https://www.elitspeedway.com/artikel/lfxwak87i-21mi1/framflyttad-sasongsstart-och-nya-regler-i-bauhaus-ligan-i-speedway

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Five One Racing

Will Sweden’s Allsvenskan be the only speedway in 2020?

This week has seen unprecedented events with countries taking large scale action not seen since the Second World War. Borders and schools are closed and those over 70 yrs are encouraged not to go out. International events such as the Eurovision Song Contest and the European football championship have been cancelled and even the Olympics, due to be held in Tokyo, at the end of July is being called into question.

No one knows if the speedway season will actually start in Europe at all.

The sport at the top club level in the UK, Poland and Sweden relies on riders travelling freely between countries and likewise international tournaments like the Speedway GP and the SEC. Even in the lower division, such as Poland's Nice 1 and Nice 2 league or the UK’s second division, the Championship, are heavily reliant on foreign talent to function.

The Danish Metal League is one of the few European leagues where the top division is dominated by riders from that country. Last year the league included import riders such as Luke Becker (USA), Kevin Wölbert (GER), Jaimon Lidsey (AUS) and Dawid Lampart (POL). However, Danish speedway is in a good condition and there are a number of riders such as Claus Vissing, Michael Palm Toft or Lasse Bjerre who all race on Danish licences in the UK in 2019 and may be willing to return to their home nation if that was their only chance to race.

But whilst there are enough riders to support the league, as of 17 March the Danish government has banned all gatherings of more than 10 people. Last year Metal League matches attracted between 1000-2000 people these tickets sales are needed to make the sport work economically.

Outside Poland the sport is on an economic knife edge, with one of Britain's most successful teams, the Poole Pirates, choosing to go down to the Championship in 2020 after financial difficulty in 2019.

In Sweden, Motala Piraterna nearly went bankrupt again putting their problems down to the difference between projected income based on ticket sales and actual received income from gates in a season where they had 500 less people per match than anticipated. Gates in Sweden's top division were between 2000-2500 in 2019 and this is significantly more than the current limit of 500 set by the state on 12 March in response to Coronavirus outbreak. If this law remains in place when the Elitserien is due to start on 5 May it will not be able to go ahead because of the economic risks involved.

However, things might be different for Sweden’s second division, Allsvenskan.

The league is an entirely Swedish affair with almost no riders from outside the country on the teams' rosters. At the same time almost all Sweden's top riders are already take part in the league, including all the riders nominated by SVEMO to the SGP and SEC at the beginning of March - Linus Sundström (pictured), Oliver Berntzon, Kim Nilsson, Peter Ljung, Pontus Aspgren, Matias Törnblom, Victor Paloaarva and Ludvig Lindgren.

The only top Swedish riders who did not race in Allsvenskan in 2019 were Jacob Thorssell who is due to race in the Elitserien, UK and Poland and SGP riders, Antonio Lindbäck and Ludvig's older brother, Fredrik Lindgren, who has already said he does not intend to race in Sweden in 2020.

So Allsvenskan is one of the few European leagues that could continue to operate even when international travel in restricted.

Not only that but the league functions on a relatively low fan attendance. Last year the only two clubs who regularly had more than 500 in the stands were the two semi-finalists, Norrköping Vargarna and Nyköping Griparna. That should mean that that at least the other four teams ought to have budgeted for 2020 on that basis.

So, could it be that Sweden's Allsvenskan is the one of the few European leagues that is able to operate with an international travel ban and a limit on how many can gather in one place?

The Allsvenskan is due to start on 13 May, so we will wait to see if Griparna will be able to defend their title from 2019.

European Leagues and their top scorers

Here is a list of the major European leagues, the top scorer from 2019 and the top scorer from the country who hosts the league:

SGB Premiership (GBR) - Jason Doyle (AUS) 1st place; Craig Cook (GBR) 6th place

SGB Championship (GBR) - Sam Masters (AUS) 1st place; Craig Cook (GBR) 2nd place

Ekstraliga (POL) - Bartosz Zmarzlik (POL) 1st place

Nice 1 (POL) - Viktor Kulakov (RUS) 1st place; Kacper Woryna (POL) 2nd place

Nice 2 (POL) - Brady Kurtz (AUS) 1st place; Kamil Brzozowski (POL) 6th place

Elitserien (SWE) - Bartosz Zmarzlik (POL) 1st place, Fredrik Lindgren (SWE) 6th place

Metal League (DEN) - Niel Kristian Iversen (DEN) 1st place

Based on figures from http://se.aktuellspeedway.eu/

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Five One Racing

Ice Speedway: Ivanov wins Worlds after cancelled events

Whilst the newspapers have been dominated by the spread of the Coronavirus in Europe, the sports pages have been full of cancelled events.

Last week the penultimate rounds of the Ice Gladiators Speedway World Championships were cancelled in Germany as well as the European championship due to held in Poland.

And yesterday the Dutch authorities were forced to cancel the final two rounds due to be held in Heerenven on 4 and 5 April.

That meant the end of the Ice Gladiators competition and that Daniil Ivanov (pictured on left in 2013) was suddenly announced as 2020 World Championship, without the pomp and ceremony the Russian deserved for taking his second championship in a row.

In the Silver medal spot was Dmitry Khomitsevich (on right in photo) and the Bronze medal belongs to Dinar Valeev, to make it yet another Russian one-two-three in the competition.

Highest scoring westerner was Harald Simon of Austria in 6th.

How Ivanov won

Ivanov only won by 4 points in the end and cemented his victory by great early season form when he won the first three Rounds and came second in Round 4 in Togalitti. But as the season wore on his luck began to waiver with crashes and poor finishes in both the meetings at Shadrinsk. He missed the final for the only time this season there in Round 5.

Veteran Khomitsevich was consistent throughout the shortened season with 3 second places, 1 third place and a win in Round 5 at Shadrinsk. However, in retrospect we can see that his seventh place in Round 4 at Togalitti was what cost him the 2020 championship.

Valeev got better as the season went on. He only got to the semifinals in Rounds 1 and 2 in Almaty, but from then onwards was in the final for every Round, including a win in Round 3 in Togalitti.

How Simon beat Weber

In the battle of the westerners, Simon succeeded over Germany’s Johann Weber by just two points.

The Austrian only made one final this season, although he got as far as the semis in three out of the other five rounds.

By contrast, Weber was twice the only non-Russian in the Round’s last race. However, his spectacular crash in Round 2 in Almaty, where was was run over by Austrian legend, Frank Zorn, was ultimately the cause of second place to Simon.

Weber was taken from the stadium by ambulance and finished the Round in 16th place. Amazingly, he only received bruising from the fall and was able to continue racing the following weekend.

So, whilst a shortened season, it was not dull by any means and Ivanov can walk away with his head held high after a hard fought victory.

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SVEMO looking to the future with riders for SGP and SEC

Sweden have yet to find a replacement for legendary rider, Tony Rickardsson who retired from the sport in 2006 having achieved six World Championship titles.

So when SVEMO made its announcement on 5 March of who will has been chosen to represent the country in the qualifiers for the SGP and SEC series this year, they chose to look to the future and give riders who have had less experience at this level a shot at the big time.

Qualification to the Speedway GP Series

Currently the country's two permanent SGP riders are 35 year old Fredrik Lindgren and Antonio Lindbäck who has both appeared in the series almost every year since 2004. Lindgren's highest finish was 3rd in 2018 and for Lindbäck it was 7th in both 2012 and 2016.

But the only other rider who has had a permanent place in recent history is Andreas Jonsson, who was part of the SGP Series from 2002 to 2016. But "AJ" retired at the end of last season at the age of 39 yrs.

A number of riders, such as 2019 Swedish champion, Jacob Thorssell, have appeared a on several occasions as wildcards in the last five years, but without making a significant inroad in the sport at the highest level.

This year, 30 year old Pontus Aspgren is one of the SGP substitute riders and SVEMO are no doubt hoping he will get some racing experience as they have also selected him the 2021 SGP qualification race in Glasgow on 23 May. He will race alongside 27 year old Mattias Törnblom, who likewise have never raced a GP event before.

In the second and third qualification races to be held on the same day, but in different locations, SVEMO have chosen two riders who already have a handful of SGP races under their belt in Oliver Berntzon and Peter Ljung.

Ljung is the only rider over 30 who has been selected and Berntzon has been one of the best performing riders at the SGP level. For example, in Hallstavik in 2019 the 26 year old came first in Heat 20 beating no less than British champion Robert Lambert and the talented Russian duo of Emil Sayfutdinov and Artem Laguta.

In the 4th qualification race in Germany on 1 June they have played safe allowing Antonio Lindbäck the chance to participate to secure his place in the top tier of the sport. Otherwise reserves for the first two races are two riders who have had ongoing experience of the SGP over the last few years. For the first two races it is Linus Sundström and for the third and fourth races, Kim Nilsson.


Qualification to the Speedway European Championship

Antonio Lindbäck has been the main stay of Swedish success having participated in four of the last five SECs since his first appearance in 2015, where he came his career best third in the championship. That makes him the only Swede to medal in the competition at all since in moved from a one-day championship in 2012.

Otherwise, it is again Andreas Jonsson who has been the most prolific rider with three championships between 2014 and 2018 whilst Peter Ljung (2016) and Fredrik Lindgren (2015) have only one a piece.

In SVEMO's search for successors to the trio of thirty-somethings, they have picked some of the same names as in the SGP qualifications in the hope that increased exposure to the international arena will enable these younger riders take the next step up and eventually replace Lindgren-Lindbäck-Jonsson.

Therefore, Oliver Berntzon will race in Hungary (11 April), Mathias Törnblom and Linus Sundström in Ukraine (17 May) and Pontus Aspgren in Czech Republic (17 May). Joining Aspgren in Plzen will be the only rider who is not also going to be involved in the SGP series, 26 year old, Victor Palovaara. Reserve for the SEC qualifies is Ludwig Lindgren (29 yrs) and younger brother to Sweden's most successful current rider, Fredrik.

Not surprisingly, SVEMO have elected to take the top scoring Swedish riders in the Elitserien in 2019 and put them forward for the international events. Or more correctly, they have chosen 9 of the top 12 Swedish riders from last season. Apart from Jonsson who has retire, the missing names are Jacob Thorssell and Tomas Jonasson, who both scored more than Sundström and Palovaara over the season.

Thorssell rides in Sweden for Dackarna and the team's manager explained that the rider has decided to focus on league racing in Sweden, Poland and the UK rather than international meetings in 2020.

Whether it was because of age that 32 year Jonasson was not chosen is unclear, especially after an excellent debut season in the Nice 2 league where he was 5th on heat average and above riders of the talent of Australians Josh Grajczonek and Jaimon Lidsey and Frenchman, Dimtri Berge, whom is going to be a reserve for the SGP series in 2020 and raced in the SEC in 2019.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Photo shows Fredrik Lindgren (blue) ahead of Andreas Jonsson (red) at the Swedish SGP in Hallstavik in 2018.

Original article from SVEMO (in Swedish):

https://www.svemo.se/Nyheter/Speedway/nomineringavforaretillgrandprixocheuropamasterskapskvalenispeedway2020

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Ice Speedway: World Championship and European Championship cancelled due to coronavirus

The first Rounds of the 2020 Ice Gladiators Speedway World Championships due to be held in Europe have been cancelled due to health risks associated with the Coronavirus. Rounds 7 and 8 were due to be held in Inzell, Germany this weekend, but the German government has said that all public gatherings over 1000 people must be cancelled because of the risk of the virus spreading through the population.

A similar ruling in Poland means that the European Ice Speedway Championship, which was due to take place in Tomaszów Mazowiecki on 21 March in has also been cancelled.

The domestic season in Sweden has been interrupted by extremely warm weather for the time of year, so the Coronavirus outbreak is a further blow for riders and fans alike.

As the future developments in regard to the disease are unknown it remains to be seen if the final rounds of the World Championship, which are due to take place in the Netherlands on 4 and 5 April will occur or not.

The Russian trio of Danill Ivanov (above,104 pts), Dmitry Khomitshevich (100 pts) and Dinar VaIeev (95 pts) currently lead the competition with the top placed westerner, Austria's Harald Simon in sixth place with 58 points.

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Ice Speedway: Ledström takes Nordic title with style

In last week's Ice Speedway of Nations competition in Berlin, Sweden came in second whilst Finland failed to score a single victory. Therefore, it was clear which nation was favourite to bring home the individual Nordic championship yesterday when 16 competitors from Scandinavia met in Varkaus, Finland.

The question was who would win?

One name that was definitely out of the running was one the Swedish Silver medalists from last week, Martin Haarahiltunen (29 yrs), as he was not on the starting line up.

The meet started well for another one of Sweden's medalists, Niclas Svensson as he won the first heat ahead of his 61 year old father, Stefan Svensson (pictured). Finland's Aki Ala-Riihimäki did not finish that first heat, but still ended up with 10 points in total, which was enough to take him to the semifinal.

The other Finn who made his way all to the semis was Atte Suolammi, who races with Swedish club, Bockerna. He also started his first heat, number three, with a three pointer. But despite another win in Heat 11, in a crucial Heat 18 race against two of the day's top scorers in young Swedes Niclas Svensson (29 yrs) and Swede, Ove Ledström (22 yrs), he would gain just one point. However, it was still enough to him a semi-final place with a total of 11 points.

That first heat victory for son over father would prove to be decisive in the final running as both Svenssons picked up 13 points with three heat wins and three second places. It meant that Niclas went straight to the final, but Stefan had to fight it out against the two Finns and Sweden's Pierre Hallen, captain of Bockerna, the only Swedish rider in the last six who is not from the ÖMK Rundbana club.

Therefore, the semi saw that classic Nordic rivals play itself out again two Finns against two Swedes. However, there would be no upsets for the home fans to enjoy as Stefan Svensson and Hallen took first and second to make it an all-Sweden final.

In a tightly fought final, where the lead changed several times 58.2 secs it took to complete four laps of Varkaus circuit, the overall victory went to youngster, Ove Ledström. It was fully deserved as he took a maximum from the tournament, having already beaten both Svenssons and the top Finns - Suolammi and Ala-Riihimäki - in the qualifying rounds.

It will be the European Ice Speedway championship in Poland in two week's time. Finland has yet to announce their rider, but two of Sweden's representatives are those who came in second and third behind Ledström, that is the Niclas and Stefan Svensson.

As in the Ice Speedway Gladiators and the Ice Speedway of Nations competitions, it is

Haarahiltunen who will join the father and son duo. But after this performance, surely it cannot be long until the young Ledström joins this trio as some of the top westerners in the sport today.

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Ice Speedway - INTERVIEW - Jasper Iwema (NED) - living the dream

For fans of Moto GP, the name Jasper Iwema may already be familiar to you. The Dutchman raced in the 125cc World Championships from 2007 before moving on to Moto 3 and then finishing off his career in the Moto 2 series in 2015.

One of his many career highlights comes from his 125cc days and a race in his home country in 2010. “It was the fastest lap ever with an Aprilia RSW on Assen and I qualified 6th on the grid in front of my home crowd,” he says with understandable pride.

But going to Assen as a child would also lay the foundation for a dream which the 30-year-old is now living out today, “since I was young, I was interested in ice speedway. There were always world ice speedway races in Assen where I use to go and watch. I always said, “I will start doing that after my road racing career” ”.

Ice speedway, is exactly what the name suggests, speedway on ice and therefore a slight change in discipline from the Moto GP bikes, he was more familiar with.

But nonetheless, in January, Iwema made his way to the highly prestigious Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championships, the Ice Speedway equivalent of the SGP series. He came an impressive third in the qualifying in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden.

Iwema, who also goes by the name Ice Team Racing 800, is one of the few Europeans or “westerners”, as they are called, who are in the top tier of the sport which is dominated by the Russians. In fact, Russians/ Soviets won every one of the World Champion races in Assen that he saw as a child. But at least this year he is also racing alongside compatriot, Bert Schaep.

At club level, Iwema races with CSKA Moskva in Russia. But in Sweden he is at Strömsunds MK where he is consistently one of the team’s top scorers. Naturally, he also takes part in a number of individual meets to make the most of the short season.

It has been a tough start to the Ice Gladiators series for the Dutchman. After three Saturday-Sunday meetings in Russian venues he has picked up just 16 points and lies in 17th overall.

However, there are two European legs of the competition left, first in Germany before the series will reach its climax in his home country at Heerenveen. His goal in these final four stages of the World Championships is to get to the semi-finals.

This is a stretching, but possible ambition, for all the western riders. But he will not just have to beat some of the Russians to get there, but also the top placed Europeans, Harald Simon (AUT), Johann Weber (GER) and Martin Haarahiltunen (SWE) who will also be in his way.

An avid V-blogger, you can follow Jasper Iwema and Ice Team Racing 800 on social media, including his own channel on You Tube.

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