Midshires Grasstrack Club are set to host one of the biggest Grasstrack events in Europe this Sunday as they play host to the FIME European Solo Semi Final. Some of Europe’s best Grasstrack racers are set to do battle at the Midland venue, right off of Fosse Way near Royal Leamington Spa, all trying to qualify for a place in the 2019 European Championships Final.
From the 18 competitors in action on Sunday, just the top 9 will qualify for the final, which is set to be held in Bad Hersfeld, Germany on 17th
August. With three Brits already safely through to the final from the first semi-final held at the beginning of the month, British hopes are extremely high for this year’s competition. And on home turf this Sunday, seven British riders will hope to flood August’s final with UK talent.
Heading the line-up for the British contingent is reigning British Masters Grasstrack champion Zach Wajtknecht. Having won his first British Masters title in 2018, the 21-year-old followed it up by finishing third in the European Championships and firmly announcing himself as a contender for the future.
Another rider with history in the competition is James Shanes. The Dorset-based 22-year old made history by winning back-to-back European titles in 2016 and 2017. He hoped to defend his title again in 2018, but it was not to be. The three-time British Masters champion will be desperate to win back this coveted title, and his journey begins at Fosse Way on Sunday.
Two other Brits with an excellent record in the European Championships are experienced riders Andrew Appleton and Paul Hurry. Both are multi-British Masters champions and both are, more pertinently, previous European champions. Hurry’s European title came in 2005, and he has been a finalist in the competition many times. Appleton, who is currently contesting the World Longtrack Championships, won his European crown in 2010, after narrowly missing out several times. In fact, the 37-year-old 4x British Masters champion has been on the podium in the European Championships six times. These two vastly experienced riders will certainly start with high hopes on their shoulders on Sunday.
Two more Brits competing with plenty of calibre are Yorkshiremen Paul Cooper and Richard Hall. Cooper, who is multi-British champion in both the 250cc and 350cc classes, missed out on last year’s competition through injury. He has proved time and again to be a real spoiler in these kinds of events. Expect dogged displays of determination from him as he aims to qualify for his ninth European Final.
Richard Hall has been one of Europe’s best Longtrack stars for many years now. Many will recall Hall’s tremendous display which helped Team GB win its first World Team Longtrack crown in 2015. He also had a memorable 2013 campaign, finishing third in the World Longtrack Championships. In the European Final last year, he came in as reserve and made a huge impact, winning two races. Hall has a spectacular, unwavering riding style that will undoubtedly serve him well on Sunday.
Finally, hoping to get a taste of the action, will be recently crowned British Masters Qualifier champion Charley Powell. The former Eastbourne Eagles speedway rider made his first European Final in 2017 and rode well. If given the opportunity, he has already shown that he is more than capable at this level.
As well at the home interest, riders from five other countries make the journey across the channel in the hope of qualifying for the Final. Heading the overseas contingent is former European champion Stephan Katt. The popular German has won the title three times and would love to add a fourth on home soil in August, should he get through Sunday’s Semi Final.
A very exciting addition to Sunday’s lineup is Dutch youngster Romano Hummel. The twenty-year old is setting the sport alight at the moment, having already established himself as a World Longtrack star. Although he’s yet to win a major individual title, many see him as a future world champion and it is only a matter of time before he reaches the pinnacle of the sport.
The only Danish rider joining the event is Kenneth Kruse Hansen. Having raced regularly in the British speedway leagues since 2007, he is well-known to UK race fans. He has turned his attention to Grasstrack and Longtrack and has already been making waves in the sport, taking the scalps of many top riders.The 31-year-old recently won the International Grasstrack at Germany’s famous Osnabruck circuit.
France will be represented by four riders, including Jerome Lespinasse. The Frenchman will have fond memories of UK-based European Semi Finals, having won in Cornwall in 2010. He actually rode at the Leamington venue in 2018 at the Master of Midshires event, though he had a day to forget. He has been a World Longtrack Grand Prix regular since 2008, though he has had to sit this year out. Without the World Longtrack to chase, Lespinasse will desperately want to make an impact on the European competition.
As well as the European Semi Final, there will be full support from the 1000cc sidecars. The country’s top 180bhp monsters will do battle at the event, providing a perfect accompaniment to the European main event. To make sure that there is plenty of action on track, a strong national 500cc solo class will also be racing. This will include Tom Perry, who has already qualified for the European Final having finished 8th
at the Bielefeld Semi Final.
All of the details of the event, plus a full lineup in all classes can be found at www.midshiresgrasstrack.com
or on their Facebook page. All of the action is set to take place on Sunday, with practice beginning at 8.30am. The first race is due to commence at 1.30pm. All of this action for just £15 per adult means that all motorbike racing fans should look to get to Fosse Way this Sunday for what could be an historic day for British Grasstrack.