Australian team manager Mark Lemon hailed his 2022 FIM Speedway of Nations World Championship-winning heroes as the Roos ended their 20-year wait for a world team title at Vojens on Saturday.
At the end of an epic four days and 90 heats of racing, and the first SON of a new era for FIM Speedway under new global promoter Discovery Sports Events, the Aussies topped the podium ahead of runners-up Great Britain and third-placed Sweden.
Lemon took the decision to make Speedway GP duo Jack Holder and Max Fricke his starting pair throughout the Final and the duo repaid him spectacularly, with Holder piling up 19 points and Fricke 11 as they totalled 30 points.
This earned the Roos third place in the score chart after 21 heats, booking their spot in the Grand Final Qualifier along with Sweden, who also scored 30. Holder led Fricke to a 6-3 victory over Fredrik Lindgren and Oliver Berntzon to set up a Grand Final showdown with 2021 champions Great Britain, who topped the scoring on 32.
A fine start from Holder and Fricke left the Lions pair trailing, delivering Australia’s first team triumph since they won the 2002 FIM Speedway World Cup Final at British track Peterborough.
Lemon has been managing the side since 2012 and was ecstatic to end his decade-long wait for Aussie gold. He enthused: “I do this job to help our riders perform at their best and highest level. Success is just an absolute bonus.
“We have worked hard for a number of years and there have been some guys who have been chipping away and not got to appreciate this feeling. I really feel for them.
“But it is a real honour to be leading our country and to win the World Championship for all those fans who get up in the early hours of the morning back home to watch us and support the boys. It’s just a fantastic feeling.
“Working with these riders is a privilege for me. We have been trying for so long and came so close for so many years. We have had riders who have been capable and because of one thing or another, it hasn’t happened. It’s world championship racing and anything can happen.
“These boys have done the country proud and done themselves proud. Now they can call themselves world champions and it’s a fantastic achievement.”
Great Britain star Robert Lambert was pleased with a second straight top-two finish for the Lions – just hours after skipper Tai Woffinden was forced out of the FIM SON Final due to a back injury sustained in a training accident.
Lambert starred on 18 points, with GB No.3 Bewley taking all of Woffinden’s rides and racking up 14 points. While losing Woffinden was a blow to the side, Lambert admits knowing he and Bewley would be partners for every race helped them focus on the task of chasing a second straight FIM SON gold medal. He said: “When I saw him walking around the hotel like an old man with a bad back, it wasn’t the best news. But we had to move on from that.
“The way it went was that Dan and I knew we would be taking all the races. When you don’t know who is going to be racing where it does put some pressure on the riders.
“We just went out to do a job and try to get straight through to the Grand Final. We managed to do that. It just didn’t happen in the Grand Final, but it’s cool what we are doing with GB. That’s two medals in two years – that’s a good return and we have to be happy with that.”
Swedish star Oliver Berntzon endured a tough Speedway GP season in 2021, but he has roared into sensational form this summer, winning the Swedish Championship for the first time last month. He scored 40 points over the Semi-Final and Final of the FIM SON in Vojens – the best individual performance of all 15 teams.
Berntzon crashed as he battled for third place with Fricke on the last lap of the Grand Final Qualifier, but hopes he can look back and enjoy a successful week after leading the Swedes to FIM SON bronze.
He said: “Now it doesn’t feel good – I’ve hurt my shoulder and my feelings. It is what it is, but tomorrow hopefully I will realise what I have done this week. I was the best point-scorer in the semis and today.
“It was a tough moment in the Grand Final Qualifier. Today didn’t go our way, but that’s not to say it never will.”
The FIM Speedway action now heads to Welsh capital Cardiff as the city hosts its 20th FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain on Saturday, August 13, with the FIM SGP2 of Great Britain for the sport’s under-21 stars on August 14.
FIM SPEEDWAY OF NATIONS FINAL SCORES:
1 AUSTRALIA 30: 1 Jason Doyle 0, 2 Max Fricke 11, 3 Jack Holder 19.
2 GREAT BRITAIN 32: 1 Tai Woffinden 0, 2 Robert Lambert 18, 3 Dan Bewley 14.
3 SWEDEN 30: 1 Fredrik Lindgren 10, 2 Oliver Berntzon 20, 3 Victor Palovaara 0.
4 DENMARK 28: 1 Leon Madsen 15, 2 Mikkel Michelsen 13, 3 Anders Thomsen 0.
5 CZECH REPUBLIC 27: 1 Vaclav Milik 18, 2 Jan Kvech 9, 3 Petr Chlupac 0.
6 POLAND 26: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 20, 2 Patryk Dudek 2, 3 Maciej Janowski 4.
7 FINLAND 16: 1 Timo Lahti 14, 2 Timi Salonen 0, 3 Jesse Mustonen 2.