Zagar, Janowski, Pedersen and Sayfutdinov handed FIM Speedway Grand Prix wild cards for 2017

Double European and World Under-21 champion Emil Sayfutdinov makes his return to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series, with Nicki Pedersen, Matej Zagar and Maciej Janowski also awarded permanent wild cards for 2017.

Sayfutdinov last appeared in the FIM Speedway World Championship in 2013, when he won three SGP rounds in Bydgoszcz, Gothenburg and Cardiff, before his season was ended by elbow and knee ligament injuries.

The 2007 and 2008 FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship winner has since gone on to lift the Speedway European Championship twice in 2014 and 2015, as well as winning two Swedish Elitserien gold medals with Vetlanda and a Polish Ekstraliga championship with Leszno last year.

Having finished third in the 2009 series and challenged Tai Woffinden hard for the title in 2013, the Russian international is no stranger to pushing for the sport’s top prize.

Neither is Denmark’s triple world champion Nicki Pedersen. He finished 13th in this year’s World Championship after his season was ended by a broken wrist, neck and ribs suffered at the Golden Helmet meeting at Czech track Pardubice on September 18.

But after winning World Championship silver and two bronze medals in the last four years, the 16-time SGP winner has been handed another shot at landing his fourth title.

Slovenian star Matej Zagar and Poland’s Maciej Janowski endured the cruellest of fortunes, falling a point short of this year’s top-eight automatic qualification places after the QBE Insurance Australian SGP in Melbourne last Saturday.

Two fourth-place finishes in Stockholm and Torun and an 11-point haul in Melbourne were enough to earn Zagar ninth, with the SGP Commission opting to give him a return ticket for the 2017 series.

Last year’s seventh-placed star Janowski slipped out of the top eight in Melbourne after starting the night in seventh. But having won the Kjærgaard Danish SGP in Horsens on June 11, Magic earned a recall for next year.

The wild cards are joined in the series by the top-eight automatic qualifiers, world champion Greg Hancock (USA), Tai Woffinden (Great Britain), Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), Chris Holder (Australia), Jason Doyle (Australia), Piotr Pawlicki (Poland), Antonio Lindback (Sweden) and Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark).

The 2017 SGP field is completed by the top three from the GP Challenge at Swedish venue Vetlanda on September 3 – winner Patryk Dudek (Poland), Martin Vaculik (Slovakia) and Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden).

There’s plenty in reserve in case any of the top 15 riders are forced out of a round through injury, illness or other reasons.

Danish international Peter Kildemand has been called up as first reserve for 2017. Despite falling short of qualification this year, he reached five finals in his first 11 SGP appearances in 2014 and 2015, winning last season’s Kjærgaard Danish SGP in Horsens and the opening round of this term – the Slovenian SGP in Krsko.

Former New Zealand SGP winner Martin Smolinski of Germany has been named second reserve and newly-crowned World Under-21 champion Max Fricke from Australia is the third stand-in rider.

The full list of riding numbers will be announced in due course.

2017 FIM SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX LINE-UP (in ranking order):

1 Greg Hancock (USA)

2 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain)

3 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland)

4 Chris Holder (Australia)

5 Jason Doyle (Australia)

6 Piotr Pawlicki (Poland)

7 Antonio Lindback (Sweden)

8 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark)

9 Matej Zagar (Slovenia)

10 Maciej Janowski (Poland)

11 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden)

12 Nicki Pedersen (Denmark)

13 Patryk Dudek (Poland)

14 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia)

15 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia)


20 Peter Kildemand (Denmark)

21 Martin Smolinski (Germany)

22 Max Fricke (Australia)