PREVIEW: 2016 ICSF European Cycle Speedway Championships

South coast clubs, Poole and Southampton host the ICSF 2016 Cycle Speedway European Championships this weekend, where a full three day feast of explosive action awaits the large crowds expected.

The championships largely feature individual events, but we will see Team GB back in action Friday evening in a test match against Poland in Southampton, which represents new manager, Lee Aris’ first match at the helm.

The action kicks off early Friday morning with Junior qualifying rounds at Southampton, while the big guns come out in the open competition a little later at both tracks.

With four quarter finals, two at each track, the Southampton side of the draw is notoriously more difficult to manoeuvre through. Six riders from each quarter final qualify, with a repechage at each location where just four riders will make their way through.

Simple maths means we will see some big names falling at the first hurdle in Southampton, there is simply no room for error.

Current European champion, Marcin Paradzinski, along with former European champions, Maciej Ganczarek and Marcin Syzmanski all appear at Southampton, with former World champion, Lukasz Nowacki, also featuring in round two.

Current champion, Marcin Paradzinski.

2014 champion, Marcin Paradzinski.

A whole host of Polish team internationals, at least 10 or 12 not including the aforementioned riders, join Team GB internationals, Mark Boaler, Myke Grimes, Steve Harris, Lewis Osbourne and current British Champion Zac Payne, something has to give with only 16 spaces up for grabs.

Poole on the whole is looking much easier with the majority of Poland’s internationals appearing down the road in Southampton. Round 3 features GB’s Ben Mould and Chris Timms, with Under 16 British champion, Brandon Whetton also involved. While, Team GB captain, Paul Heard, should have no trouble making his way though round 4 along with Mark Carmichael and British number 3, Charlie Rumbold.

We may even get some surprise qualifiers from the Poole end of the draw, while Southampton will be the polar opposite and feature surprise casualties.

Great Britain take on Poland in an eagerly awaited test match in Southampton on Friday night at 6:30pm. Current World Champion, Bartek Grabowski has surprisingly not made the trip to the championships, but the Poles have at least 16 top riders they can choose from.

Great Britain are likely to field a full strength team lead by captain, Paul Heard. The GB squad came from behind to win the last test match against Poland in the World Championships at Poole last year. They went on to win the test series against Australia a week later, much to the delight of the home crowds.

The Poole crowd witnessed a close fought match in 2015.

The Poole crowd witnessed a close fought Team GB v Poland match in 2015.

Saturday sees junior and open semi finals in the morning and at lunchtime, again across both tracks, before Poole takes over for the remaining matches, starting with the junior and senior European Nations Team Cup, featuring England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Poland at 3pm and 5pm respectively.

Sunday is finals day at Poole, the juniors kick off at 12, before the Ladies take to the track at 2pm, which features a straight final with no qualifiers. Then, the big one at 4pm, the ICSF European Open Final, where the large Poole crowd will be pinning hopes on one of the Great Britain riders to bring home the gold.

If you want to catch the racing this weekend, the Poole track is located at the picturesque Harbourside Park and you can find Southampton’s track at Shirley Ponds Recreation Ground, Stoke Road, Southampton SO16 6BD.