SON 2018 | RACE OFF 2 REVIEW
SpeedwayGP.com continues its look back at all the 2018 action. Today, we rewind to Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Race Off 2.
18 / 01 / 2019, 12:50
SpeedwayGP.com continues its look back at all the 2018 action. Today, we rewind to Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Race Off 2 in Manchester.
It was a night where the big guns fired as favourites Sweden, Great Britain and Australia booked their places at the Finals in Wroclaw. But there was still no shortage of drama at the National Speedway Stadium.
With France making their World Championship debut and Finland returning for the first time since the 2010 FIM Speedway World Cup, the two nations were determined to make their mark against some of the sport’s top names.
The one nation which made it look easy was Sweden – winners on the night as they dropped just four points over six rides. Freddie Lindgren and Antonio Lindback showed their class as they blazed to four 5-1s and a 4-2 to book qualification with a heat to spare.
This was fortunate as heat 20 saw them come up against a GB side searching for the three points it needed to secure the second automatic Finals berth.
Lions hero Tai Woffinden – returning to the national team after a year’s absence – started the night alongside Craig Cook, scoring a 4-2 over France in their opening race.
This prompted team boss Alun Rossiter to throw in under-21 reserve Robert Lambert for the remainder of the meeting. And the British champion gave the world a taste of what could be ahead in the years to come.
First Woffinden shepherded the SGP first reserve to a 5-1 over Finland. Then the Czech Republic suffered the same fate. Italian star Nicolas Covatti split Woffy and Lambert – limiting them to a 4-2.
Then Australian inflicted a huge blow as Jason Doyle and Max Fricke raced to a 5-1 over the Lions that they hoped would earn them Finals qualification.
But in one of the shock moments of the tournament, Finnish star Tero Aarnio produced one of the rides of his life to keep Fricke and Doyle behind him in heat 19, with Timo Lahti holding the Aussies up too in the early stages before being passed.
This 3-3 meant three points for GB against the Swedes would see them overhaul Australia. Woffy and Lambert delivered. Woffinden got the better of Lindgren, while Lambert beat Lindback and the Lions were safely through.
It meant Australia faced a final knock-out race to seal their spot in Wroclaw. France tied with Finland for fifth place but beat them on countback, earning the right to tackle the Czech Republic in the first knock-out race.
The French appeared on course for an Aussie showdown as David Bellego and Dimitri Berge held the minor places, only for the latter to suffer a bike failure, allowing Czech duo Vaclav Milik and Josef Franc to stay in the hunt.
But despite Milik winning the final knock-out, second and third for Fricke and Doyle was enough to send them to Poland and keep them in the title hunt.