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LEBEDEVS EYES HISTORIC FINAL CHARGE FOR LATVIA

Latvian captain Andzejs Lebedevs targets historic first final in Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations.

16 / 09 / 2021, 17:39

Latvian hero Andzejs Lebedevs knows his team has “a big chance to make the Final for the first time” as the hosts bid for Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations history in Daugavpils on Saturday.

The Lokomotiv Stadium stages Monster Energy SON Semi-Final action on both Friday and Saturday. Poland take on Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovenia and the USA in Semi-Final 1 on Friday, with Latvia facing a huge showdown with MFR, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and the Ukraine in Semi-Final 2 on Saturday.

The top three countries in each Semi-Final join hosts Great Britain at the Monster Energy SON Final in Manchester on October 16 and 17.

This is, I think, the most important meeting for me and team mates ever. We have a big chance to make the Final for the first time for Latvia. We will do all we can to make this dream come true.

Andzejs Lebedevs

The Latvian team has never made a speedway world final in its history, but Lebedevs and talented young guns Olegs Mihailovs and Francis Gusts are being tipped for a top-three finish in front of their home fans.

Mihailovs, 22, finished third in the 2020 FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship Final, while 18-year-old Gusts is impressing in this season’s world junior series, finishing fifth at the opening round in Stralsund, Germany on September 4. He also won the 2021 European Under-19 title in Riga.

Lebedevs is no stranger to success, having won the 2017 Speedway European Championship series. But he’s hungry for more and would love to lead Latvia to what would be the greatest achievement in the country’s speedway history.

He said: “We have a very nice young team. I am the oldest one from this team, but I am still hungry for success.

“Everyone wants to show their best because everyone will be watching this meeting across the speedway world.

“This is my home crowd and my home track. Everyone from the Latvian team wants to give everything.

“This is, I think, the most important meeting for me and my team mates ever. We have a big chance to make the Final for the first time for Latvia. We will do all we can to make this dream come true.”

Daugavpils has hosted eight Latvian FIM Speedway Grand Prix rounds in its history, but Lebedevs is hugely excited for the city’s first Monster Energy SON rounds as the eyes of the speedway world fall on his boyhood track.

He said: “This is a special moment for Daugavpils and for Latvia because the Speedway of Nations and the World Cup before that have never been here.

“We have organised many Speedway Grand Prix rounds and the speedway fans here have always been very happy and excited about these competitions.

“I think this meeting will be just like when we had the GPs here. I will have many friends here and people can’t wait for this big weekend.

“I just want to say a big hello from Latvia to all the speedway fans – I will see you on Saturday! We are excited. The Latvian team wants to show its best, make all the supporters happy and go to Manchester.”

Swedish fans have been given a huge lift ahead of Semi-Final 1 after world No.3 Fredrik Lindgren declared himself fit to race after a frightening fall at the Danish SGP sponsored by Ecco in Vojens last Saturday.

The Czestochowa and Vastervik star was battling wild card Mikkel Michelsen for third place in semi-final two, when the Dane lifted into his rival as Lindgren made a move around the outside going into the final lap.

The world No.3 was bounced off the fence, which saw him slump forward on to his own handlebars. Lindgren was then carried helplessly towards turn one, where he careered into the air fence, with his bike cart-wheeling over him.

Incredibly, Fast Freddie got back to his feet very quickly along with Michelsen, and both men line up in Daugavpils on Friday, where the Scandinavian rivals face a huge test from a Polish team led by world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik.

Lindgren feared he may have to miss the Monster Energy SON showdown, with fellow squad member Jacob Thorssell on hand to deputise, but Andersson is delighted to report that he’s fit to race.

He said: “He’s ready. He will come to Daugavpils. I called Jacob Thorssell and made sure he booked the ferry to Latvia – just in case. We had a back-up plan.

“When I talked to Fredrik on Saturday night and Sunday, we said we would give it a couple of days. But on Tuesday, he came back to me and confirmed he was ready to go.”

Germany have been forced into a team change for Saturday’s Semi-Final 2 as Martin Smolinski withdrew due to injuries suffered in a Polish Second Division match for Landshut in Rawicz last Saturday. His place is taken by Valentin Grobauer, who rides for British SGB Championship team Birmingham.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday’s Monster Energy SON Semi-Finals are still available online. Book here now: https://bit.ly/3yLvnCZ.

 

MONSTER ENERGY SON SEMI-FINAL STARTING LINE-UPS (in draw order):

SEMI-FINAL 1 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

TEAM A – USA

1. Broc Nicol (captain)

2. Luke Becker

3. Blake Borello (U21)

Team Manager: Steve Evans

 

TEAM B – POLAND

1. Bartosz Zmarzlik (captain)

2. Dominik Kubera

3. Jakub Miskowiak (U21)

Team Manager: Rafal Dobrucki

 

TEAM C – CZECH REPUBLIC

1. Vaclav Milik (captain)

2. Josef Franc

3. Petr Chlupac (U21)

Team Manager: Filip Sitera

 

TEAM D – DENMARK

1. Leon Madsen (captain)

2. Mikkel Michelsen

3. Mads Hansen (U21)

Team Manager: Hans Nielsen

 

TEAM E – SLOVENIA

1. Matic Ivacic (captain)

2. Nick Skorja

3. Anze Grmek (U21)

Team Manager: Gregor Arnsek

 

TEAM F – SWEDEN

1. Fredrik Lindgren (captain)

2. Pontus Aspgren

3. Philip Hellstrom-Bangs (U21)

Team Manager: Morgan Andersson

 

TEAM G – FINLAND

1. Timo Lahti (captain)

2. Tero Aarnio

3. Timi Salonen (U21)

Team Manager: Jyri Palomaki

 

SEMI-FINAL 2 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

TEAM A – ITALY

1. Nicolas Covatti (captain)

2. Paco Castagna

3. Michele Menani (U21)

Team Manager: Simone Terenzani

 

TEAM B – AUSTRALIA

1. Jason Doyle (captain)

2. Max Fricke

3. Keynan Rew (U21)

Team Manager: Mark Lemon

 

TEAM C – UKRAINE

1. Aleksandr Loktaev (captain)

2. Vitalii Lysak

3. Marko Levishyn (U21)

Team Manager: Sergey Lyatosinskyy

 

TEAM D – MFR

1. Sergei Logachev (captain)

2. Vladimir Borodulin

3. Mark Karion (U21)

Team Manager: Tatiana Savina

 

TEAM E – LATVIA

1. Andzejs Lebedevs (captain)

2. Olegs Mihailovs

3. Francis Gusts (U21)

Team Manager: Nikolajs Kokins

 

TEAM F – GERMANY

1. Kai Huckenbeck (captain)

2. Valentin Grobauer

3. Nick Blodorn (U21)

Team Manager: Herbert Rudolph

 

TEAM G – FRANCE

1. David Bellego (captain)

2. Dimitri Berge

3. Steven Goret (U21)

Team Manager: Laurent Sambarrey

 

Photo: Taylor Lanning

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