Latvia hosts 2021 FIM Speedway of Nations semifinals; U.S. team seeks end to drought
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 16, 2021) — The 2021 Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations semifinals begin this weekend in Daugavpils, Latvia, providing the United States team with a chance to qualify for its first World Team Championship in 20 years.
The U.S. team will compete in the first semifinal scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, against Poland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovenia, Sweden and Finland. The second semifinal will take place the following day with Italy, Australia, Ukraine, the Motorcycle Federation of Russia (MFR), Latvia, Germany and France.
“The Speedway of Nations is the ultimate challenge,” AMA Director of Racing Mike Pelletier said. “It brings together the world’s best Speedway competitors in a format that allows each rider to strive for the ultimate prize – World Championship glory. The U.S. team is prepared to meet the challenge and the entire American Speedway community supports their efforts.”
The U.S. team’s starting lineup is composed of senior riders Broc Nicol and Luke Becker, as well as under-21 rider Blake Borello. Dillon Ruml will serve as the senior reserve, and Anthony Dion will be the under-21 reserve.
Although the MFR will continue its title defense in the other semifinal, Poland and Denmark, who rounded out second and third in the 2020 FIM Speedway of Nations, create a formidable draw for the U.S. team. Within the first semifinal group, world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik will be among those riding for Poland, and world No. 3 Fredrik Lindgren headlines Sweden’s team.
Despite the challenge ahead, U.S. team manager Steve Evans said there is an unprecedented level of excitement for the competition.
“We have been dealt the tougher draw with our semifinal, but the way to get easier draws in the future is to establish ourselves as a top contender,” Evans said. “Any opposing rider is beatable, and we are going into the race with the sole intention to qualify for our first World Team Championship in 20 years. We believe we can do it and believe in the abilities of our team.”
Evans said both Nicol and Becker are primed to make an impact on the heightened stage. As for his final starter Borello, Evans said the talented rider will be faced with a unique challenge.
“It’s going to be a huge baptism of fire for Blake Borello as our lead under-21 rider,” Evans said. “In pre-COVID times we would be able to arrive earlier and do some testing and potentially some practice races, but he’s going to be thrown straight in. He’s a very talented rider and is taking this all in stride, which is positive.”
Teams finishing first and second in each of the semifinals will automatically advance to the Monster Energy Final in Manchester, England, Oct. 16 and 17. Those finishing third and fourth will compete in the final qualifier after each semifinal race to punch the last two tickets to Manchester.
Serving as the host, Great Britain automatically qualified for the final.