THE 2024 European season is about to swing into top gear with riders from Great Britain set to compete in Poland, Sweden and Denmark.

Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography

Polish Ekstraliga action kicks off this weekend, and as last year Robert Lambert, Dan Bewley and Tai Woffinden will all be involved on a regular basis.

All are with the same clubs as last season and Lambert in fact has already signed on for 2025 with Torun, who finished third last season as they continue to work their way back up the standings.

Little has changed elsewhere in their line-up with the responsibility for big points falling to Lambert, Emil Sayfutdinov, Patryk Dudek and Pawel Przedpelski.

Meanwhile Woffinden and Bewley both remain with last year’s runners-up Wroclaw who suffered a massive injury crisis prior to the Final.

The key change is that Bewley has moved out of the Under-24 position, leading to the exit of Piotr Pawlicki to Zielona Gora, whilst Woffinden maintains his place alongside Maciej Janowski and Artem Laguta in a team expected to challenge for honours again.

However, the clear favourites are defending champions Lublin who are going for a third successive crown, and do so with an unchanged spearhead of Bartosz Zmarzlik, Fredrik Lindgren and Jack Holder – three of the top four riders in the world – and a fourth Grand Prix rider in Dominik Kubera.

Lublin have released Jarek Hampel to Zielona Gora, but SGP2 Champion Mateusz Cierniak steps up from reserve into the Under-24 berth in another powerful line-up – and if that wasn’t enough, they also have hot prospect Wiktor Przjemski now in the reserve berth.

Elsewhere, Czestochowa have been regular play-off qualifiers in recent years and retain their top four of Leon Madsen, Mikkel Michelsen, Maksym Drabik and Kacper Woryna, whilst Mads Hansen appears a strong signing in the Under-24 berth.

Gorzow have rebounded well from the loss of Zmarzlik and still enjoyed a good 2023 season. Martin Vaculik remains with the club along with Anders Thomsen and GP newcomer Szymon Wozniak, whilst Jakub Miskowiak moves from Czestochowa and takes the U24 role.

Leszno are not the force of previous seasons and now rely on the experienced Janusz Kolodziej to maintain his tremendous form, backed up by Grzegorz Zengota and Bartosz Smektala, whilst Andzejs Lebedevs joins from relegated Krosno – but Chris Holder and Jaimon Lidsey have both left the club.

Lidsey has joined Max Fricke at Grudziadz and it will be an all-Aussie spearhead for GKM as Jason Doyle also comes in from Krosno, whilst Nicki Pedersen has departed the club to compete in Ekstraliga 2 with Rzeszow.

Zielona Gora have done well to bring in Hampel, Pawlicki and Jan Kvech to go alongside Przemyslaw Pawlicki and Rasmus Jensen who remain with the club after they won promotion back to the top-flight with a perfect record last season.

Luke Becker and Rohan Tungate have left the Mickey Mouse side, who seem likely to be far more competitive than other recently promoted clubs in what could be a real battle to avoid the drop.

Division One has been rebranded as Metalkas 2. Extraliga, and British involvement in this league features Tom Brennan and Drew Kemp.

Brennan has the Under-24 berth at Gdansk where his team-mates include Niels-Kristian Iversen and Nicolai Klindt, whilst Kemp will be vying with Benjamin Basso for a berth at Lodz alongside Becker and Oliver Berntzon.

Pedersen’s performances at Rzeszow, who also include Peter Kildemand and Jacob Thorssell, will be interesting to follow, and the likes of Rybnik and Ostrow also appear to have strong line-ups.

The third tier is now known as the National Speedway League, although there has been some uncertainty over its make-up, and it is now to feature six clubs as Krakow will not be competing in league racing, although Tarnow have received a reprieve.

Latvian club Daugavpils, who include Steve Worrall, and German side Landshut will compete but are ineligible for promotion to Ekstraliga 2.

Other British involvement comes from Kyle Howarth with Gniezno and Adam Ellis, who has moved to Pila along with Dan Gilkes who has an Under-24 position.

Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography

Racing is already underway in this league with Ellis starting well for Pila, scoring 12+1 from five rides in their 54-36 win over Opole. Gilkes, who will be contesting his slot with Jonas Knudsen, took one ride but failed to score.

Elsewhere on opening weekend Gniezno defeated Tarnow 49-41, although Howarth wasn’t involved, and Worrall scored 11 from five rides in Daugavpils’ 48-42 defeat at Landshut.

Two big events taking place prior to the start of the top two leagues were the Ekstraliga Riders’ Championship and the Polish Pairs Championship.

The individual event was staged at Lodz and was won by Zmarzlik, who held off Doyle and Lindgren in the Final. Bewley scored seven points in the meeting, which was not enough to reach the semi-finals.

Zmarzlik then led Lublin to their third successive Pairs victory, dominating the scoring with support from Kubera and Jack Holder. Torun were second, two points behind with Lambert scoring 11 of their 23, whilst Bewley scored eight for Wroclaw as they finished in third place.

The Under-24 Ekstraliga will continue in 2024, featuring the eight current Ekstraliga clubs along with Ostrow.

Full squads are to be published, but Gilkes and Jason Edwards are both with Grudziadz whilst Connor Bailey, Luke Killeen and Nathan Ablitt are all associated with Wroclaw.

The Swedish Bauhaus Elite League will feature eight clubs this season following the promotion of Vargarna, with Dackarna defending the title.

Bewley remains part of the team along with his Belle Vue colleague Brady Kurtz, although they may not be quite as strong this season given that Maciej Janowski and Leon Madsen have left the club.

The title was won at the expense of local rivals Vastervik in the Grand Final, but last season’s league leaders will be favourites again and they include both Woffinden and Lambert, the latter making the switch from Smederna, whilst Fricke is also part of a hugely powerful squad.

Elsewhere Tom Brennan is part of the Indianerna squad, and there’s also a return to Swedish action for Chris Harris who has joined Vargarna some ten years after last appearing in the country for Rospiggarna.

The biggest challengers to Vastervik and Dackarna may well be Lejonen, who track a Polish spearhead of Zmarzlik, Kubera, Hampel, Woryna and Cierniak, along with Aussie star Lidsey.

The Allsvenskan League consists of seven clubs with former top-flight club Masarna stepping back up, and they include Jack Smith in their squad. Swedish action gets underway in early May.

One rider from Great Britain is named in the Danish Super League line-ups, with Ellis set to join forces with his Ipswich team-mate Doyle at Region Varde. There are seven clubs in the league, with Esbjerg defending the title.