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SGP Needs a Revamp
By Geoffrey Langley

Dave Green is absolutely right when he suggests that there should be fewer GP's to give the competition more meaning, especially as almost all the top eight appear likely to miss riding in the U.K next year because of the pressure of so many GP's. The problem is that many fans, including myself, have got used to seeing the top riders in competition every couple of weeks and if there are less GP's there needs to be something pretty good to replace them on our TV screens ( and certainly something better than the usually boring World cup qualifiers)

So what can replace the GP's ?

My suggestion is that there should be a maximum of 6 GP's preceeded by three regional qualifying rounds, one for Eastern Europe, one for Scandanavia and one for Britain/Australasia/USA (or something approximately similar). The top four from each region go straight into the GP's later in the season and the riders finishing 5th to 9th in each round, plus one wild card go forward to an extra round and the top four from that also go into the GP's. The benefits of this formula would be;-

1. The riders only compete in 7 or at most 8 meetings but the TV audience get to see 10 meetings

2. It allows for a rider to have an off-night but still get a second chance to qualify, unlike the present system.

3.It allows a greater number of young riders to ease into top-line competition and build up their experience (and sponsorship) rather than being thrown in at the deep-end and being completely outclassed.

4. It would allow the British public, for example, to see the young talent around in the rest of the world, and vice-versa.

5.The grip that Pedersen, Crump, Hancock, Adams, Gollob, Andersen and Jonsson have on the GP's is not healthy for the sport. I do actually believe that those seven are amongst the best riders ever and certain past World Champions might well struggle against them but there is something not quite right about them not being made to qualify on merit rather than being seeded through on the basis of the previous year. These guys, with their relatively large sponsorships, should be capable of sailing through the qualifying rounds but recently we have seen, for example, young Ben Barker beating first Crumpie then AJ, so the top men need to be kept on their toes, and the younger riders need to be given a fairer crack at qualifying.

Speeedway should be (to quote Ole Olsen) "tough but fair". Long may it remain so.


 

  • Bill Elliot:

    "Agree with the comments of correspondents talking about the need for a change to the GP format and the fact that fans were probably the last consideration in the debacle which saw the final GP switched to Poland, allegedly for reasons which had nothing to do with the weather. It used to be the case that the GP's were must see TV for speedway fans but now I can't be bothered watching the whole thing, knowing that I'm going to be watching the same riders (with only wild card exceptions) and I can usually pick the winner from a group of half a dozen.

    It seems that with an increasing number of riders deciding to give British speedway a miss in order to let them prepare better for GP's, that one competition is now in danger of superceding the good of the sport, at least in Britain. Even if it is the world championship, that can't be good for the sport as a whole.

    The old system of qualifying had many faults, but at least there was a measure of spontaneity and excitement, and it did throw up the occasional surprise. The way it is now, you can virtually predict the outcome before it even starts, and good exciting racing appears to be the exception rather than the norm. Much prefer a system where the underdog has the chance to get through to a World Final, rather than have a situation where 95% or more of the riders are out of it before it gets under way. "

  • Alan Rogers:

    "I would like to see the Grand Prix moved to the 'off' season ie November to March. With the use of indoor stadia and introducing Grand prix from Austrailia, New Zealand and the USA. This would keep an all year round speedway interest for the Sky Watchers and holiday opportunites for us that hate winter. It would also free up all the GP Stars to return to GB and race in the summer season. We could could also have aturday night racing return. Just a thought!"

  • Norman Chadwick:

    "I don't care about the GP format too much, I do care about seeing good racing at tracks where passing is possible. Slick tracks and flat tracks are boring. Whether its indoor or outdoor is not an issue for me just give me plenty of passing on safe tracks. If this means some tracks have more than 1 GP per year then so be it."

  • Tony Richardson:

    "Great idea, getting back to the old way to qualify, which would get rid of the wild cards who only score a couple of points (if Lucky). Only drawback to that plan is at the moment GB don't have the quality riders to make it through to the GP's. What is needed and it has been talked about for a number of years is for engines not to be tuned up and be the basic engine that comes from the manufacturer (in all competitions), that means all riders have the same level of equipment and the costs will be less for the riders. It means youngsters can come in to the sport without having to spend x amount of money to try and compete and it will be more down to rider ability that the best tuned engine and I think closer racing which would make it a better sport to watch. But I don't think that will happen (do you)."

  • Dudley Jones:

    " I was interested to read the recent comments of respondents on Speedwayplus. Can I suggest that anyone with an interest in SGP/World Championship, goes to Ove Fundin's website. Here he recently gave his views, which are extremely well put. You will see that he makes a compelling case for a return to the knock out system where all could enter, and their chances of being World Champion broadly rest upon ability, and their capacity to handle 'big night nerves', not selection.

    SGP has never been comparable with the old championship insofar as I am concerned, seems hugely dispruptive to the league system which underpins speedway, and is for a small clique of the better riders. Now we see riders such as Scott Nicholls abandoning the league for it, the total irrelevance of SGP, either as a genuine decider of the person truly worthy of being called 'World champion', or to world speedway, is apparent.

    Take a look at what Ove, possibly the greatest real 'World Champion', says on the matter.

    Perhaps we should have a world championship in something like the old knockout format, running alongside something we might call 'World Series Championship', or something similar. Then everybody wins."

  • Patrick Thomas Jackson:

    "Time perhaps to introduce a revamped INTERNATIONAL STAR CHAMPIONSHIP for all riders to enter. Let's find who really is the best rider in the World! These grand prix CIRCUSES are just a financial magic circle for a select few. Those British riders who refuse to ride in Britain should have their track licences to race here removed."

  • James White:

    "I would like to see the top 8 riders from last season handicapped 15 yards in all GPs next season. Plus no choosing gates in semi final or the final, gate positions to be drawn out of the hat. They're bound to moan but that's tough, they will have to accept the terms or get out of the Grand Prixs and let the young guns in who will ride their hearts out just to be in the GPs"

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