The qualification process for the 2024 FIM Speedway Grand Prix meetings kick off this coming weekend with a total of sixty-four hopefuls preparing to fight it out in four countries for the three places available in the 2024 SGP line-up.
Getting under way on Saturday 27 May with events in Slovakia and Italy, this first round of races concludes on Monday 29 May in Germany and Hungary. The top four finishers from each will then go through to the Challenge event in Sweden on Saturday 19 August where the three riders moving up next year to the elite SGP division will be decided.
Zarnovica in Slovakia will get the ball rolling with an afternoon programme followed by evening action at Lonigo in northern Italy before the final eight qualifiers are decided two days later at Abensberg in Germany and Debrecen in Hungary. In the event of no Swedes making the cut for the Challenge event, only the first three from Debrecen will progress and a Swedish wild card will be brought in to make up the sixteen riders, but this is an unlikely scenario given the talent lining up this year from Sweden.
Last season’s promoted riders are already making an impact in the SGP ranks – in particular Australia’s Jack Holder and British rider Dan Bewley. With two rounds down Bewley has carded a pair of seventh-place finishes, but Holder is showing even more impressive form and last time out in Warsaw in the middle of May he ended the night on the second step of the podium.
It is too tough a call to start making predictions at this stage and each one of the four entry lists shows great strength in depth, but we have already seen a number of competitors in action in the FIM Long Track World Championship.
The 2020 Long Track king, Lukas Fienhage was in fine form at Herxheim in mid-May as he powered to third and he will contest the Slovakian event.
Germany’s Martin Smolinski won the FIM Long Track World Championship in 2018 and he was blisteringly fast at Herxheim, winning his first four heats before he suffered the heartbreak of a sparkplug failure in the Final. He will have home advantage at Abensberg, but will face a stiff challenge against riders of the calibre of Britain’s Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris.
Last season Michael Jepsen Jensen came within a few positions of promotion to the sport’s top-flight and the Dane will kick off his challenge at Debrecen.
A number of current SGP riders will also contest the Qualifiers – including 2017 World Champion Jason Doyle from Australia who will start in Germany – in case they do not achieve automatic qualification for next year by finishing in the SGP top-six this season.