Another busy year of action across Europe saw Great Britain regularly represented in both individual and team competitions.

Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography

With three regular competitors in the Grand Prix series, all of whom have shown their capability to succeed at the highest level, GB are prominent players on the international scene, but there is also an eye on the future with the rider selections for several other events.

The GP series itself saw Robert Lambert and Dan Bewley both consolidate their positions well inside the World’s top ten, and although both dropped one position from last year, both riders exceeded their points totals from 2022.

Bewley now has three GP victories to his name after his dramatic triumph at Malilla, winning the meeting in a re-started Final after a clash between Martin Vaculik and Fredrik Lindgren in the first staging.

However, that was Bewley’s only Final appearance of the season, despite reaching semi-finals in six of the other nine GPs, with the big frustration coming at Teterow where he had ridden superbly but found himself excluded from the semi after his bike cut out just prior to the start.

Bewley ended the season in seventh place on 104 points and was unsurprisingly handed a selection for 2024, whilst Lambert made sure of progression himself with 108 points for a sixth placed finish.

And with the two riders so close in the standings, the critical moment between them turned out to be Heat 18 of the final round in Torun where Lambert overtook Bewley on the last bend, a move which ensured Bewley would not make the semi-finals whilst Lambert himself progressed.

Lambert reached eight semi-finals out of ten, missing out only in Warsaw and Riga, with the highlight being his second place behind Bartosz Zmarzlik in the opening round in Croatia.

He added another Final appearance in the penultimate round at Vojens, where he finished fourth, and it is clear that one big item to tick off his list in the coming season is to turn his overall consistency into a GP victory.

Tai Woffinden also required a nominated place for 2024 after his GP season came to an end in a frightening crash at Cardiff which caused him to miss the final two rounds with a hand injury.
Prior to that, Woffinden had shown his best form in the Latvian GP where he reached the Final and looked very much a potential winner, only to be excluded for a second offence of movement at the start.

He reached three other semi-finals during the season, ending his campaign on 64 points in eleventh place.

Lambert was joined in the top six by Zmarzlik, who took the title by eight points despite his exclusion from the Vojens event due to incorrect attire in qualifying, along with Fredrik Lindgren, Martin Vaculik, Jack Holder and Leon Madsen.

Bewley and Woffinden took two of the five nominated spots for 2024, along with Poland’s Dominik Kubera, Latvian star Andzejs Lebedevs, and German racer Kai Huckenbeck.

From the GP Challenge, places were taken by Jason Doyle, Szymon Wozniak and Jan Kvech (the latter benefitting from riders above him in that meeting securing their progression in other ways), whilst Mikkel Michelsen remains in the SGP after clinching his third Speedway Euro Championship title.

Michelsen finished eight points ahead of Madsen in another scrap for the SEC title, with Janusz Kolodziej completing the rostrum – although it may have been different if the Pole had not missed the opening round in Czestochowa due to injury.

GB star Adam Ellis enjoyed a solid second campaign in the SEC, improving from 11 points in 2022 to a total of 22, which placed him eleventh overall with his best score being seven in Gustrow.

Ellis and Tom Brennan joined Bewley, Lambert and Woffinden in the Speedway World Cup at Wroclaw, where the competition made a triumphant return to the calendar with one of the greatest Finals in history.

GB sailed through Event 1, scoring 43 points and finishing 11 clear of Sweden, with Bewley (14), Lambert (13) and Woffinden (10) all in double figures.

They also led through most of the Final although it was a genuine four-way scrap for gold with hosts Poland always in contention, and whilst Australia slipped out of contention when Holder was injured, Denmark stayed in touch and the top three nations were covered by just two points with one race remaining.

With Max Fricke ahead for Australia, Lambert held a crucial second place for GB but Maciej Janowski proved to be the hero for Poland as he overtook both Anders Thomsen and then Lambert to seal gold for Poland, who finished two points ahead of GB who had to settle for silver.

Lambert had put in an outstanding display with 12 points from five rides, whilst Bewley scored nine having been deployed tactically in the No.5 position.

The SGP2 season proved to be a disappointment as Anders Rowe, Drew Kemp, Leon Flint and Dan Gilkes all fell short in the qualifiers, although a call-up for Rowe to the first Final in Prague was successful as he scored an impressive nine points, before missing out in the semi-final.

Poland’s Mateusz Cierniak made it back-to-back titles, and also joined Wiktor Przyjemski and Bartlomiej Kowalski to win the SON2 competition, where GB finished seventh out of seven competing nations with Rowe scoring 17 of their 20 points.

That was a shock result given their results in recent years, even considering the riders who have moved out of that category, and they will be looking for much better this season with the Final taking place on home territory at Belle Vue in July, which ensures their participation in the event.

In the Youth category of SGP3, there was a fine performance from William Cairns in the one-off Final at Malilla as he scored ten points, winning three races and finishing just off the podium in an event won by Sweden’s Rasmus Karlsson. Cooper Rushen also competed and scored four points.

Meanwhile the inaugural SGP4 event took place on the nearby training track, with GB youngster Oliver Bovingdon scoring six points in a meeting won by Denmark’s Elias Jamil with a 15-point maximum.

The European Team Championship got underway with a qualifier at Pardubice in mid-April, where Bewley’s win over Vaclav Milik in the last race ensured GB booked their place in the Final.

They finished 16 points short of winners Denmark but crucially one ahead of the hosts, and just above the mark required to be highest scoring runners-up.

The Final in Stralsund saw GB secure bronze medals as Poland dominated the event with 49 points and Denmark picked up 35, leaving GB on 22 and hosts Germany on nine.

Bewley led the way on 11 points with GB’s other points coming from Ellis (5), Brennan (4) and Richie Worrall (2) with Gilkes an unused reserve.

At Under-23 level, though, GB failed to qualify for the European Championship Final in another meeting staged at Stralsund.

Sweden won the meeting on 38 points, but GB were edged into third place by the Czech Republic, who finished one point ahead of them on 29.

Brennan dominated the GB scoring on 12 points, with Rowe (8) and Flint (6) contributing the bulk of the remainder.

Poland went on to win the event, finishing ten points clear of Denmark in the Final at Macon, with Sweden in third place.

The FIME European Pairs event saw Great Britain reach the Final, coming through their qualifier with third place in Finland at the Varkaus venue.

GB were represented by Brennan and Chris Harris, who both scored nine, whilst Jordan Jenkins appeared at reserve. The top two nations in the meeting were Denmark and the hosts.

However, there was no medal for GB in the Final at Opole as they finished in fifth place, with Brennan this time joined by Adam Ellis who scored 14 points – the joint highest in the meeting along with Poland’s Przemyslaw Pawlicki (14+2) and Finland’s Timo Lahti (14).

Brennan scored 2+2 and GB finished four points off the rostrum, with those places taken by Poland, Denmark and Finland.