Aussie star Max Fricke is determined to keep taking advantage of his FIM Speedway Grand Prix opportunities as he faces the world’s elite on home shale at the Norrbil Swedish SGP in Hallstavik on Saturday.
The Rospiggarna rider goes into the meeting on his Elitserien track hoping to make the most of his third SGP appearance of 2019.
Fricke may know the HZ Bygg Arena track inside out, but he faces a stiff test against Sweden’s world No.3 Fredrik Lindgren, who is fourth in the standings on 32 points and seeking to close the eight-point gap to leaders Patryk Dudek and Leon Madsen, who are on 40.
World No.2 Bartosz Zmarzlik – third on 36 – also heads to Hallstavik in sublime form, which has seen him average an astonishing 2.882 points per race in the Swedish Elitserien this year.
Lindgren isn’t the only home star on show, with Antonio Lindback seeking his first SGP win on Swedish shale, while wild card Oliver Berntzon is out to make his mark on his full SGP debut.
Fricke, who steps in for the absent Greg Hancock, is joined in the meeting by his Rospiggarna colleagues Jason Doyle and Robert Lambert, who covers for injured world champion Tai Woffinden.
Despite some stellar opposition, the Aussie champion certainly can’t wait to test himself against the best riders in the world on a track he knows well.
Fricke said: “It’s nice to be in the Grand Prix – it’s a second one in a row. It’s also nice to come off a good GP in Prague. I have been doing okay recently everywhere, so it will be cool to do a Grand Prix at a track I know.
“It’s just another day and hopefully I can go and compete with the guys in the Grand Prix, pick up some points and mix it with everyone.
“I know the place reasonably well. This is my fourth year here. So I have done a few laps around there.
“A GP is different – different riders and a different format. The track is always a little bit different with different people prepping it and so on. But I’m sure it will be a good event. I’m just happy to be there and be part of it.”
Fricke has been widely tipped as an SGP star of the future and underlined that reputation by topping the heat scorechart with 12 points at the ANLAS Czech SGP in Prague on June 15.
Asked if he feels ready to become a full-time SGP rider, he said: “It’s hard to say. I didn’t have a bad last Grand Prix. I feel I can race with those guys, so possibly.
“The main thing is I have this opportunity to go in and do a few one-off events. Hopefully I can make the most of that and learn from that. That’s all part of the stepping stone to being a Grand Prix rider one day.”
It’s tight at the top in the SGP series with Dudek and Madsen tied on 40 for the lead, with Dudek placed first by virtue of his superior FIM ranking. Madsen is keen to maintain his momentum in Hallstavik after reaching the rostrum in each of the three opening rounds.
He said: “The GP is tough and I am very happy with the three first rounds. Hallstavik is another new round and anything can happen.
“Hallstavik is a small, technical track. It’s going to be a hard task for sure, but I am looking forward to it with a smile on my face.
“I am in a good position. I feel good on the track. I’m scoring a lot of points in the league as well and my team is working hard in the pits. They’re giving me some good bikes. I’m optimistic and looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be good.”
Tickets for the Norrbil Swedish SGP are still available online. Click here to buy now: www.bit.ly/2SjY2df.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Patryk Dudek 40, 2 Leon Madsen 40, 3 Bartosz Zmarzlik 36, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 32, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 30, 6 Martin Vaculik 28, 7 Janusz Kolodziej 26, 8 Niels-Kristian Iversen 24, 9 Jason Doyle 23, 10 Artem Laguta 22, 11 Robert Lambert 21, 12 Matej Zagar 17, 13 Antonio Lindback 17, 14 Max Fricke 16, 15 Tai Woffinden 15, 16 Maciej Janowski 11, 17 Bartosz Smektala 10, 18 Vaclav Milik 4, 19 Matic Ivacic 2.
NORRBIL SWEDISH SGP LINE-UP (in FIM ranking order with rider numbers): 505 Robert Lambert (Great Britain – substitute for 108 Tai Woffinden), 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), 66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden), 71 Maciej Janowski (Poland), 46 Max Fricke (Australia – substitute for 45 Greg Hancock), 222 Artem Laguta (Russia), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 89 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia), 692 Patryk Dudek (Poland), 55 Matej Zagar (Slovenia), 54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 333 Janusz Kolodziej (Poland), 88 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 85 Antonio Lindback (Sweden), 30 Leon Madsen (Denmark), 16 Oliver Berntzon (Sweden – wild card), 17 Pontus Aspgren (Sweden – first track reserve), 18 Kim Nilsson (Sweden – second track reserve).