CHRIS HOLDER AND TOMASZ GOLLOB ARE BACK IN THE RUNNING FOR SGP GLORY AFTER BEING HANDED PERMANENT WILD CARDS FOR THE 2014 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Former world champions Chris Holder and Tomasz Gollob are back in the running for speedway’s biggest prize after being handed permanent wild cards for the 2014 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series.
They are joined by Swedish champion Andreas Jonsson and his compatriot Fredrik Lindgren in receiving one of the four selections from series promoters BSI Speedway and the governing body, the FIM.
Gollob fell short of the World Championship’s top-eight automatic qualification places after suffering a fractured C7 vertebrae in the Rockklassiker Scandinavian SGP in Stockholm on September 21. He finished ninth in the final standings on 89 points – level with fellow countryman Krzysztof Kasprzak in 10th.
Meanwhile, 2012 world champion Holder’s season was ended when he suffered a fractured hip, broken pelvis, shattered heel and a broken shoulder in a crash at Coventry on July 5.
The Australian was 12th in the final standings on 82 points – a point behind Lindgren who was 11th on 83 and a place ahead of Jonsson, who finished 13th on 64.
Making his debut in the 2014 World Championship is German star Martin Smolinski, who finished fourth in the GP Challenge at Poole on August 24. With the winner of the qualifying event, Niels-Kristian Iversen, finishing third in the SGP standings this year, Smolinski has been promoted into the series as one of the three qualifiers.
Kasprzak finished second in the Challenge to retain his SGP spot, and Danish star Kenneth Bjerre returns after a year’s absence, having finished third at Wimborne Road.
World champion Tai Woffinden heads the list of automatic qualifiers for 2014. He is joined by runner-up Jaroslaw Hampel, Iversen, Greg Hancock, Nicki Pedersen, Emil Sayfutdinov, Matej Zagar and Darcy Ward.
Team Great Britain skipper Chris Harris is first reserve for next year’s series after finishing fifth in the GP Challenge.
Troy Batchelor and Michael Jepsen Jensen will also serve as qualified substitutes. They will be drafted in if any of the regular 15 SGP riders are forced to miss a round through injury, illness or other reasons.
FULL 2014 FIM SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX SERIES LINE-UP:
1 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain)
2 Jaroslaw Hampel (Poland)
3 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark)
4 Greg Hancock (USA)
5 Nicki Pedersen (Denmark)
6 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia)
7 Matej Zagar (Slovenia)
8 Darcy Ward (Australia)
9 Tomasz Gollob (Poland)
10 Krzysztof Kasprzak (Poland)
11 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden)
12 Chris Holder (Australia)
13 Andreas Jonsson (Sweden)
14 Kenneth Bjerre (Denmark)
15 Martin Smolinski (Germany)
16 WILD CARD
17 FIRST TRACK RESERVE
18 SECOND TRACK RESERVE
19 Chris Harris (Great Britain)
20 Troy Batchelor (Australia)
21 Michael Jepsen Jensen (Denmark)
Should any more riders be required as substitutes during the 2014 season, the SGP Commission will nominate the rider.