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Missing Britain?
By Steve Quarterman

Every rider aspires to be world champion and I can appreciate that, so I got thinking as to why so many of the GP riders are not riding full time in Britain. I can understand the reasons for some of the riders opting out of British League racing for 2009, particularly the GP regulars, so let's look at some of the possible reasons:

The amount of matches in a season - 32 League matches per season + Cup and Shield matches + play-offs (possibly). In 2008 Coventry raced in well over 40 meetings.

Race Nights / Travelling - Elite League racing runs 5 out of 7 nights (track's usual race nights), the only nights not run on are Tuesday and Sunday, that is because these are the usual race nights for meetings in Sweden and Poland respectively. This means excessive amounts of travel for any Speedway rider in the British Elite League.

Cost - It is reported that the wages for Speedway in the Swedish and Polish leagues is more than in Britain. It was also reported that the Russian league was growing and that the wages there were a lot better than in Britain, with significantly less matches over a season.

The Nicki Pedersen example - Nicki Pedersen has won world titles whilst not riding in the British Leagues, so that proves it can be done.

If you were a GP speedway rider what would your decision be so far?

Now the plus points:

The British league is considered the most competitive in the world, some riders who don't ride in Britain are quoted as saying that feel 'short on race sharpness' due to not riding in Britain.

British Speedway provides the opportunity to ride tracks that vary massively in size, shape etc on a weekly basis.

What would your decision be now if you were a GP Speedway rider?

Before you really make your mind up let's look at this seasons GP standing compared to last seasons after 2 rounds:

I am aware that making such comparisons after only 2 GP rounds does not give a true reflection but it is still interesting reading even at this early stage.

Riders like Jason Crump and Andreas Jonsson appear so far to be benefiting from the reduced riding schedule this season, where as Hans Andersen and Scott Nicholls appear to be suffering slightly. Nicki Pedersen's slow start to the season cannot be put down to not riding in Britain as he wasn't last season either but still dominated the championship.

So with everything laid out above what is the conclusion? Is it beneficial to give riding in Britain a miss?

Answer - It is still too early to really get a true idea, one thing is for sure though, with the new Elite League Green sheet averages not far from being published and teams being able to make changes there will probably be one or two GP riders realising it may not have been the best of ideas to opt out of British racing and be looking for a way back. If I were a promoter however I would be wary of flashing the cash at a GP rider just because they have decided to ride in Britain again and instead would make a more sensible offer.

And regarding the negatives of riding in Britain - What are possible solutions to these problems?


This article was first published on 21st May 2009


  • Robert Griffin:

    "I am very concerned about the way the SGP is heading, always the top eight every year the same and I myself his very concerned about it. I am getting fed up with the same riders. I am getting sick of the same riders such as Nicki Pedersen, Greg Hancock, Hans Andersen, Andreas Jonsson, Jason Crump, Leigh Adams and Tomasz Gollob, same riders every year, change the system please and give the youngsters a chance and not just from the UK but every other country as well, give the boys the chance to make a go of it. Wouldn't it be fair on other riders trying to make it to the SGP? Let's start with only six rider who automatically go in to the SGP, so that leaves eight places to go for to qualify and then have two wild cards which makes sixteen places complete. The wild cards, one for the host country and the other wild card for a rider who wouldn't have the opportunity to make it. Riders from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, USSR, Norway, Finland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Hungary and USA and many others. Bring back the qualifying rounds then have two semi finals plus the British Final, If you can remember the 60s when they did this it always worked and was very good for the riders.

    At the moment they have five qualifying rounds with only the top six going through to the two semi finals and then the final with only three going to the SGP the following year. It would be more interesting if the top eight went through joining the top six from previous year SGP then that would be fourteen riders and with two wild cards to help some riders out. Think about it for next year please and make it more interesting to watch, but just watching the same old faces really let's move and make it worth while to watch speedway. It works for the elite league because all the top riders have move to Poland or Sweden and I think it really good not seeing these rider at all. I know there will be some fans out there would not agree with me but at the moment it working very well for the Elite League and good on them. The racing is more interesting to watch and so some riders are doing really well now."

  • Mick Cast:

    "Scott Nicholls and Hans Andersen obviously feel they need the extra racing, both are now back in the Elite league with Coventry And Poole. Some Riders it would seem do not thrive on inactivity, I wonder how many more we will see back, (Message to Nicki Pedersen, "Eastbourne have got a few injured riders what do you think mate?"). "

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