LEBEDEVS' SGP DREAM
Latvia's Andzejs Lebedevs still dreams of becoming a full-time SGP star as he bids to lead his country into their first world final tonight.
18 / 09 / 2021, 10:46
Latvian ace Andzejs Lebedevs admits he still dreams of becoming a full-time FIM Speedway Grand Prix star as he bids to lead his country into their first-ever world final tonight.
Lebedevs lines up alongside Olegs Mihailovs and Francis Gusts as Latvia take on champions MFR, Australia, France, Ukraine, Italy and Germany in Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Semi-Final 2 in Daugavpils.
Krosno and Smederna star Lebedevs is no stranger to the big occasion. He won the 2017 Speedway European Championship title. The Daugavpils-born star also led Latvia into the 2017 FIM Speedway World Cup Race Off, when he famously won a run-off for third place with Niels-Kristian Iversen to dump Denmark out of the tournament.
I am working hard to be a top rider and I will never stop working hard. I hope someday this pays off.
He has also competed in two SGP rounds, reaching the semi-finals on his series debut at the 2013 Latvian SGP in Daugavpils. Lebedevs has made just one SGP appearance since then, but he will hope to boost his chances of a return with a big performance for his country tonight.
While leading Latvia into the Monster Energy SON Final in Manchester would be a career highlight, Lebedevs admits he still harbours ambitions of becoming the country's first full-time SGP rider.
The 26-year-old said: “For sure, it is still my dream. Since I started racing speedway, it has always been my dream to be in Speedway Grand Prix.
“I am still young and I am still hungry. I push hard and work hard with my body and everything else. I put my money into my bikes.
“I still live with the dream of one day being in the Speedway Grand Prix series. This year I was close in the GP Challenge in Zarnovica. I lost a few points and then I finished in sixth place.
“But I am working hard to be a top rider and I will never stop working hard. I hope someday this pays off.”
Lebedevs lines up alongside two of the sport’s brightest young prospects tonight. Mihailovs finished third in last year’s FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship, while Francis Gusts is the 2021 European Under-19 champion.
Despite Latvia having few speedway tracks, Lebedevs is proud of how the country nurtures young talent – and especially in his home city Daugavpils.
He said: “I think this is very nice. It shows how well we work with young riders and how much Daugavpils loves speedway.
“It shows how good a school we have here – even without many tracks in Latvia and no national league, we can still be a top country in the speedway world. This is very nice. We can be glad about this and I am glad to be part of this history.”
Lebedevs believes his team has a golden opportunity to seal qualification to Manchester tonight, despite Australia starting the meeting as red-hot favourites to top the score chart.
“We have a very big chance to make the top three,” he said. “Before, the favourite team will be Australia and it would not be a surprise if Australia won the semi. But the rest of the places are still open. When I look at this Semi-Final, we can beat everyone.
“For me, as a sportsman and a rider, I would not be surprised if we win this Semi-Final. We will do everything to get a good result and I really want to go to the Final in Manchester.”