Kim Nilsson, Dan Bewley and Jack Holder book places for 2023 Speedway GP as Max Fricke loses third place
Swedish star Kim Nilsson, British shooting star Dan Bewley and Australian ace Jack Holder are the first riders to secure their place in the 2023 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series.
Nilsson picked up a shock win at the FIM GP Challenge in Glasgow on Saturday, earning a second lap ahead of Britain’s FIM Speedway GP – winner Cardiff Bewley to take the podium after leveling 13 points.
The final qualifying spot for 2023 went to Holder, who beat FIM Speedway of Nations world title-winning partner Max Fricke in a run-off for third place after finishing in level 12.
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It was a night of great drama in Scotland as Speedway GP rider Anders Thomsen crashed out of the FIM GP Challenge with a broken leg.
It came shortly after 2012 world champion Chris Holder was taken to hospital after falling awkwardly in round 12, with the French rider chasing David Bellego unable to avoid the hit Australian and plowing it. Holder confirmed he suffered a broken collarbone, two broken ribs and a broken bone in his lower back.
As fans await further news on the condition of the injured pair, it was a memorable night for Nilsson as he prepares for full-time Speedway GP life in 2023.
The surprised Swede said: “I wouldn’t have believed it, especially not winning the game. My target was the top three, but I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to Glasgow before and was just open minded.
“I’m going to be open-minded again next year too. I will do my best and try to build a good team around me to perform as well as possible.
“I don’t have such high expectations right now. I’m going to build things over the winter. I’m just going to do everything I can and give my all in every run. I can’t do more than that.
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World number 5 Fredrik Lindgren is Sweden’s only Speedway GP driver in 2022 and Nilsson is delighted to expand the country’s presence on the sport’s biggest stage. He added: “It’s important for Swedish speedway, that’s for sure. I think it could be a boost to have one more Swede – and a new name. I just hope it does something for Swedish speedway.
British hero Bewley may have secured his Speedway GP status for another year. But after moving up to fourth in the 2022 standings with a win at Cardiff last weekend, he won’t be easing off the gas as he is just one point behind Patryk Dudek in third place.
The Cumbrian said: “After the last few runs the goal is to try and get a medal. It’s good to have qualified – you never know with speedway what’s going to happen. It’s good to have what you might say is a backup plan. Hope I don’t need it, but if I do, it’s good to have it. It was an awesome night and it was good to be back in Glasgow.
Third-placed Holder had to overcome the ordeal of watching his older brother Chris leave Ashfield in an ambulance after crashing when they met in Race 12, as their family watched from the stands.
But the Speedway GP star showed phenomenal composure to snatch the final qualifying spot, securing himself a second straight season in the SGP World Championship.
Holder said: “It all started well but then the red lights came on in round 12 and I saw Chris on the ground. I quickly stopped and saw that he was in a little pain, but it was hard because I had to keep running.
“It was definitely a big mental test. It was hard to see it like this when I had to keep doing what I was doing. But it is what it is. I managed to keep a cool head and get the job done.”
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The top six from this year’s Speedway GP will also qualify for the 2023 series, along with the winner of the European Speedway Championship and five wild cards chosen by the SGP Commission.
If either Bewley or Holder finish in the top six at this year’s Speedway GP, Fricke will receive the qualifying spot they earned at the FIM GP Challenge after being placed fourth in Glasgow. British star Robert Lambert took fifth place with 10 points – a figure matched by Danish champion Rasmus Jensen in sixth.
This year’s World Championship race continues with the Polish GP Betard FIM Speedway – Wroclaw next Saturday, with the Beckhoff FIM SGP3 Poland taking place for the stars of the Under-16 sport on Friday afternoon.
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