FIM Speedway Grand Prix riders will compete for up to four World Championship points as Qualifying Practice concludes with high-stakes sprint races at the sport’s flagship events in Warsaw and Cardiff.
The new format will debut at Qualifying Practice for the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw at PGE Narodowy on May 10 ahead of Saturday’s SGP event on May 11.
The second sprint race takes place at FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain – Cardiff Qualifying Practic on Friday, August 16 ahead of Saturday’s Principality Stadium showdown on August 17.
The new format sees 16 competing riders drawn into four groups of four and they will bid to set the fastest lap time over two blocks of two minutes, with all four riders in each group on track at the same time. The fastest rider in each quartet will secure their spot in the sprint race.
Raced over a conventional four-lap speedway heat, the sprint race sees the winner earn an additional four FIM Speedway GP World Championship points, with three for the rider in second, two for third and one for fourth place.
The sprint race winner will also earn first choice of starting positions for the following day’s Speedway GP, with the second, third and fourth placed riders selecting next. The remaining riders will then choose their starting positions in an order determined by the fastest time they set during Qualifying Practice, with the fastest rider who didn’t reach the sprint race choosing fifth and the 16th fastest rider selecting last.
Aside from the events in Warsaw and Cardiff, Qualifying Practice at the remaining Speedway GP events will be contested over the 2023 format, with all 16 riders ranked by their fastest lap time. As ever, the rider recording the fastest lap time earns first choice of starting positions.
As part of the FIM and global promoter Warner Bros. Discovery Sports’ vision to help the sport’s future stars take the next step on to the Speedway GP stage, SGP2 under-21 riders will now also compete in Qualifying Practice.
These sessions, which follow the same format as 2023 Speedway GP Qualifying Practice, take place ahead of the FIM SGP2 of Sweden – Malilla on June 14, the FIM SGP2 of Latvia – Riga on September 6 and the series-closing FIM SGP2 of Poland – Torun on September 27.
FIM Speedway Race Director Phil Morris can’t wait to see the sport’s biggest stars racing for a total of 10 Speedway GP World Championship points in each sprint race as Qualifying Practice concludes with a massive four laps in Warsaw and Cardiff.
“We want to offer something more to fans watching in the stadiums and at home, and the sprint races give more meaning to Qualifying Practice,” Morris explained.
“It will be a different session completely because it will be all about who can get their bike going the fastest. It will be about finding that speed over a lap initially and then the other test will be whether riders can switch on for that one race. Who can deal with that mental test?
“If they can and they win, it could earn them four World Championship points. There are 10 points available in that one race, so it could be hugely significant. It could make a difference in a rider becoming world champion or not. It could be the difference between them winning a medal or not, or it could make a difference to their chances of staying in the series for 2025.”
Morris believes drawing the 16 riders into groups of four will ensure everyone has a fair chance to make it into the sprint race, with the fastest rider from each quartet qualifying – not the fastest four riders overall.
Morris added: “Conditions will be the same for the four riders competing in the individual blocks. We believe this will be fairer than just putting the four fastest riders through to the sprint race. Otherwise, it could just be the four riders from the first block, for example, because the track surface often changes over the course of Qualifying Practice or a Speedway GP.
“With this format, you could end up with the top four in the World Championship drawn together in the same block, so it’s luck of the draw. You are not favouring anyone with this format.
“Once we have the four participants for the final, they will come and choose their starting positions. Here, the fastest of the four in Qualifying Practice will get first choice. Then it’s a one-off race with points on the line.”
After the chequered flag falls on the Friday sprint races, the SGP action follows on Saturday, with the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw on May 11 and the FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain – Cardiff on August 17.