02/03/2012, 13:49

Former world champion Billy Hamill is set for a sensational international comeback as he prepares to race for the United States in the FIM Monster Energy Speedway World Cup qualifiers.

The 1996 SGP series winner takes to the shale at Slovenian track Ljubljana on May 5, when the Americans tackle Slovenia, Finland and Italy for a place in SWC Event One at Bydgoszcz on July 7.

Hamill has been racing regularly in his homeland over the past two seasons and has trained with world champion Greg Hancock at Californian track Perris over the winter.

The 41-year-old hopes his return to the world stage will inspire the nation’s youngsters to strive for a career on the shale.

"I think it’s fair to say I haven’t been off a motorcycle in the last two years, whether it’s speedway, road racing or supermoto."

- Billy Hamill

He said: “I’ve committed to doing the meeting in Slovenia, obviously with Greg’s help. We’re going to lead the team and hopefully we can set a path for the kids to follow.

“If we qualify, I could be racing more. It’s a huge step for me to ride at that level again.”

Hamill could find himself up against the likes of SGP stars Tomasz Gollob, Nicki Pedersen, Jaroslaw Hampel, Kenneth Bjerre, Bjarne Pedersen, Emil Sayfutdinov and Hans Andersen if the USA make it through to meet Poland, Denmark and Russia in Bydgoszcz.

With some stiff competition ahead of him, the Cradley Heath legend is taking his comeback very seriously.

He said: “I’m looking forward to this. It’s certainly a big challenge. I’ve been training for it and I’ve been practicing with Greg. I will have some warm-up meetings before and I’m preparing as best I can.

“I feel good. I’m not only doing speedway racing; I’ve been doing quite a bit of road racing over here at club level. I think it’s fair to say I haven’t been off a motorcycle in the last two years, whether it’s speedway, road racing or supermoto.

“I’ve stayed busy with that and I’m in fairly good shape. I actually quit drinking about a year ago and that certainly has helped slim me down a little bit.”

Hancock and Hamill are the last survivors from the galaxy of American stars that lit up the sport in the eighties and nineties, which featured the likes of Bruce Penhall, Sam Ermolenko, Lance King, Dennis Sigalos and Moran brothers Shawn and Kelly.

The US team is far from the force it was when it won the old World Team Cup four times in nine years between 1990 and 1998. But Hamill is joining forces with Hancock to try and restore it to its former glory.

He said: “When I first went over to England at 19, I’d have done anything to be on the American team and compete in an international meeting.

“It seems like today the kids are asking ‘how much money am I going to get paid?’ But the pride to ride for your nation should stand tall. It should be high on the list of priorities in my opinion.

“I was fortunate enough to be on the winning side. I was the reserve in 1990 and won my first ever FIM gold medal with Shawn and Kelly Moran, Sam Ermolenko and Rick Miller. That was pretty cool.

“So Greg and I got together and devised a plan. I approached Greg with it and said ‘hey, we should try and make this thing cool again.’

“We want Ricky Wells, Ryan Fisher, Kenny Ingalls and the youngsters from over here thinking ‘wow, I want to be a part of that.’ That’s the game plan and it’s not so much about a comeback for me.”

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