World champion Chris Holder will launch his title defence in New Zealand, where he is expected to be roared on by a partisan Kiwi crowd, backed up by the army of Aussies who are expected to make the trip across the Tasman. Darcy Ward from Queensland also makes his full-time SGP debut in the meeting after being awarded a permanent World Championship berth for the 2013 season.
Holder, who collected his FIM Speedway Grand Prix series gold medal in Monaco on Sunday at the FIM Galas sadly missed out on the prestigious FIM Personality of the Year prize in which Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo, FIM MotoGP Grand Prix world champion, triumphed in the public vote.
But the SGP No.1 was delighted to represent speedway and take his place among a galaxy of motorcycling stars.
He said: “To be honest, some of those guys are a lot bigger than me. It was just cool to get nominated against those people. I came and got what I wanted – my gold medal. I’m world champion and they can’t take that away from me.
“I’m really happy and it was really cool to be in a room of good riders – boys and girls. It was a good night. I had such a cool time and I hope it’s not the last time I come to one of those events. It was cool to be recognised like this with all the other world champions. I was proud to be there representing speedway.
“I’ve waited around in Europe especially for this and it’s cool to see this – the other side of being the world champion.”
Holder walked on to the stage unaided to collect his medal and surprised his fans by ditching his knee brace. But the Sydneysider, who flies back to Australia on Wednesday, admits he still needs to keep the knee straight for a couple more weeks before he launches into a programme of intense rehabilitation.
The event is a simple one and yet it’s the most daring, dangerous and dynamic motorcycle racing event in the world. Four riders keep turning left over four laps of an oval track and each race is over in less than a minute. Easy! but not for the riders. They race 500cc single-geared machines with no brakes.
They can go from 0-60mph in just two seconds -- quicker than Formula One!
The engines are single cylinder, fixed gear power units, fitted into the chassis of the bike frame horizontally and fuelled by methanol. The engine makes up the major weight of the bike as there are few other parts to the machine. They are not allowed to weigh less than 77 kilogrammes.
Tickets are priced at $60 for adults and $30 for children and grandstand seats cost $120.
BSI Speedway managing director Paul Bellamy is determined to build on the success of last year’s inaugural New Zealand SGP and cannot wait to see the sport’s biggest stars back in Auckland.
He said: “Taking the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series outside of Europe again was a huge goal for us and we are delighted to have achieved it with the help of Bill Buckley and his team at Western Springs this year.
“The response was fantastic with fans flocking in from all over the country and overseas to witness the action.
“We’re hopeful of attracting an even bigger crowd this year, and especially with Chris Holder launching his title defence just across the water from Australia.
“We will also be installing new and improved grandstands for 2013, which will ensure everyone gets the best possible view of what I’m sure will be a great night of racing.”
Springs Promotions principal Bill Buckley said he is thrilled to have the FIM Speedway Grand Prix returning to New Zealand after such a spectacular inaugural event.
“The FIM Speedway Grand Prix has reignited our passion for this exciting sport, invented by a Kiwi! We cannot wait to welcome riders and fans back to Auckland in March.”
Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.nz or speedwaygp.com or by calling: 0800 111 999.
- Story by BSI Speedway