‘Last night of the Proms on Methanol’ – my first visit to the British Speedway GP

I have been a Motorsport fan for many years, as long as I can remember thanks to my Dad’s love of anything with an engine. Over the years I’ve been to all sorts of events, from the British Formula 1 GP at Silverstone, various WRC stages (mostly in muddy mountains in Wales) and some Motocross as well – but until yesterday I had never made it to Speedway. It was time to right that wrong!

Speedway GP

I headed to Cardiff with the family (wife, and two boys – 14 and 9) to see the Adrian Flux FIM British Speedway Grand Prix, the most prestigious British Speedway race of the year, taking place in Wales’ national sporting home, the Principality Stadium.

Cardiff was in typical party atmosphere, with street sellers flogging various flags and horns (there were a lot of horns), buskers and musicians bringing a variety of songs to the Capital, and streams of people strutting the streets (not to mention packed bars and beer gardens).

Before I dive into this, what is Speedway?

Well, a sign on the big screen described it best:

  • 23 heats
  • 4 riders per heat
  • 500cc engines running on methanol
  • No gears
  • No brakes!

As you may expect, when a sport is heavily sponsored by Monster Energy, you expect it to be adrenaline-filled and action packed – Speedway GP didn’t disappoint!

We arrived early and headed over to the Fan Zone near City Hall to take in some sights, including tricks by some of the best BMX riders in the world, as well as taking the opportunity to sit on various motorbikes and take in the great atmosphere in the sun. There were also autograph sessions to allow you to meet the riders (who hail from all over the world) and also lots of other activities (as well as food and drink stalls).

On the way back over to the stadium we saw a huge Monster Energy pick-up truck (more like a monster truck, pardon the pun) rolling down the road with some of the riders inside, pumping out music and waving to people – very cool!

Speedway gp cardiff

After a quick break in Greggs (I’m all about the nutrition) we headed to the stadium to take our seats. Once inside we were treated to live music from Delta Radio and various warm up bits from the hosts before the show actually started. It was quite a sight to see the Principality Stadium transformed into a race track, with a live band playing in the middle of it! We were also greeted by Union Flags hanging on each seat in our block, I had been struck by how many people were kitted out in their country’s colours on the way to the event, and I had felt a bit left out, so this was a nice touch!

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A pre-show show (with an inflating trophy, which I initially thought was a hot air balloon) opened the event up, and included the introduction of the riders in different stands (one really close to us!)…and then here came the bikes.

Wow – the pace on the bikes, and the noise, really got everyone’s attention immediately, the riders came out and did various wheelies and wheelspins to warm engines and tyres, and to get their starts nailed and ready for the off – my kids were almost as excited as me!

Tai Woffinden
Tai Woffinden (C) Speedway GP

Twenty qualifying heats took place with a variety of drivers from different countries, with four laps per heat (each lap taking less than a minute). The Brit riders were obvious home heroes to the crowd, with the legendary Tai Woffinden being the top man considering his position at the top of the current Speedway table (many, many people in the crowd were sporting his merch!). There was a huge Polish contingent of supporters too, and I saw many other flags throughout the day – it was a truly International affair.

The heats were all fast-paced and extremely competitive. There were some nasty bumps and accidents, one saw a bike fly over the barriers (into an empty area thankfully) and one awful crash involving Jason Doyle (Australia) stopped the event as he received medical attention; I am pleased to say that he suffered only minor fractures.

As the heats moved on there were some clear favourites and potential winners, we got to the semi finals (races 21 and 22) which saw one fully Polish semi-final, and another which included two Brits – Tai, and Craig Cook. Cook had a fantastic day up to the semi-final, winning three races on the bounce. His fine form could not be transferred to the semi-final unfortunately though as he missed out on a spot in the final.

Speedway British GP

The fans were so passionate throughout the whole event, cheering and even chanting at times, with flag waving encouraged at every possible occasion. The British flags were abundant, and it felt a bit like the Last Night at the Proms, with Methanol.

The final was an extremely competitive race which saw Bartosz Zmarzlik pip Tai Woffinden to win the 2018 Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix, with Maciej Janowski finishing third.

The full listings were as follows:

ADRIAN FLUX BRITISH SGP SCORES: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 19, 2 Tai Woffinden 16, 3 Maciej Janowski 12, 4 Greg Hancock 12, 5 Patryk Dudek 10, 6 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 10, 7 Craig Cook 9, 8 Emil Sayfutdinov 8, 9 Chris Holder 7, 10 Fredrik Lindgren 7, 11 Matej Zagar 6, 12 Artem Laguta 6, 13 Nicki Pedersen 6, 14 Jason Doyle 5, 15 Martin Vaculik 3, 16 Robert Lambert 1, 17 Dan Bewley 0, 18 Jason Garrity DNR

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I would highly recommend Speedway GP as a brilliant family day out, my children (and wife!) really enjoyed the whole event, the atmosphere was extremely welcoming and the high octane adventures had us hooked. Just a couple of heats into the event, my children had recognised all of the riders and were cheering their favourites on (especially the Brits!). We will all be paying closer attention to Speedway GP (on BT Sport) in the future.

You can find out more about Speedway GP by clicking here.

I will definitely be coming back to the 2019 British Speedway Grand Prix, have you been before? What did you think of the event? Will Tai hold on to win the overall title this year?

 

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