‘We tried’ – Le
BSPEEDWAY STAR NEWSDESK
ELLE Vue and Australia team manager Mark Lemon believes Max Fricke may have benefitted from racing in Britain during his Speedway Grand Prix debut season.
Fricke is preparing to defend his Australian Championship next month, taking on the likes of 2012 World Champion Chris Holder, Rohan Tungate, Brady Kurtz, Sam Masters and Jack Holder in the five-round series.
But he won’t be heading back to the SGB Premiership next year after opting out following his SGP qualification.
have sent him into World Championship meetings full of confidence. But he accepts his fellow Victorian’s decision to sit out.
Asked if he regretted not being able to sign Fricke, he said: “It wasn’t for the lack of trying.
Fricke will race for Wroclaw in Poland and his new Swedish side Indianerna in 2020 – a schedule most riders would find hectic enough in an era which is seeing more top stars focus solely on the SGP series and Polish Ekstraliga.
Lemon admits he attempted to lure Fricke back to Belle Vue and feels racing for the Aces would
“I respect his decision. I felt that going into his first year in the Grand Prix, Max could use his British league form to carry some confidence into it. It’s a tough environment when you are a permanent fixture. But he made the decision he doesn’t need it and I have to respect that.
“It’s swings and roundabouts.
Diamonds import two
He had an 8.81 average and his departure gives us more flexibility with the team to build with more depth across the seven riders. When you bring in a heavy hitter, it eats up the team-building points available. It depends which way you look at it.”
One of the beneficiaries of Fricke’s exit is new Aces No. 1 Brady Kurtz, who made the move from Poole following their drop into the Championship.
He believes there’s plenty more to come from the 2016 Aussie Champion as he bids to reclaim the crown from Fricke.
Lemon said: “I think Brady is pretty underrated. Maybe he didn’t have the focus to kick on after his first championship, but I feel that has changed now.
“His performances at the end of the season, especially in Poland, were very impressive and if he’s in that sort of form, he will be pretty hard to beat in the championship.”
Champion Fricke and five-time winner Chris Holder will start as favourites, but former winners Tungate, Kurtz and Masters will fancy their chances of another title, along with Jack Holder, Ryan Douglas, Justin Sedgmen and Aussie Under-21 Champion Jaimon Lidsey.
Jordan Stewart, Robert Medson, Zane Keleher, Zach Cook, Jye Etheridge, Josh Pickering and Jack Morrison complete the field, with Brayden McGuinness, Ben Cook and Matthew Gilmore named as series reserves.
NEWCASTLE boss George English is backing the club’s new foreign imports to make their mark in the Championship next season.
The Diamonds announced the signings of Czech Republic rider Ondrej Smetana and Slovenian youngster Nick Skorja at their Christmas party last Friday, to complete a much-changed septet with only Max Clegg and Matt Wethers returning from 2019.
“He has woken up and realised that if he starts to believe in his ability, he can go on to greater things.
An Aussie title isn’t the only prize at stake with Lemon confirming the top four are guaranteed Australia’s four places
Smetana was known to be keen to make his UK debut, having previously been strongly linked with Plymouth had the Gladiators been successful in their bid to join the league, and he has also made secondhalf appearances at Brough Park.
Skorja is more of a surprise addition, but has international experience from wild card and reserve appearances in GPs at Krsko, and he was a full-time member of the World Under-21 Final series last summer, finishing 14th after scoring a solid seven points in Lublin but then fading in the final two rounds.
English said: “I consider it to be a very exciting seven to represent the side, and while many will not have heard a lot of our final two, they both come with great recommendations and huge potential to take the UK by storm.
“Ondrej is associated with our former Czech star George Stancl so he will have plenty of insider information on how to race Brough Park from one of the best around our track.
“Nick has had a full Grand Prix under his belt as a wild card, as well as three others as a reserve, so again he knows what he’s doing on a speedway bike.
“Add these guys to our already signed five and our side looks to have that potential to shock a good many of the rest of the league.”
Diamonds have also made a move towards the future by adding former Stoke rider Joe Alcock to their asset base – doubtless assisted by the presence of ex-Potters promoter Dave Tattum in the backroom team.
Club owner Rob Grant said: “We have signed Joe to the Diamonds with a view of using his undoubted talents in years to come.
“Of course, we have our 2020 seven already signed, sealed and delivered, but Joe is a great lad and one I was desperately keen to have on our books.”
Mark Lemon, left, respects the decision of Max Fricke, right, to opt out of British racing. Picture: IAN CHARLES
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VOLUME 68 NUMBER 43
2 speedway star December 28, 2019