Two of Australia’s finest motorcycle speedway riders will duel for the U21 Speedway World Championship in the second stage of the finals on September 16, 2016, in Pardubice, Czech Republic.
Max Fricke, 20, is one of the best in the business, winning the Australian under-21 championship crown in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and would love nothing more than to add a world crown to his glittering trophy cabinet.
However, Jack Holder, who is currently riding for English Premier League side Plymouth Devils, will be confident of surpassing his compatriot in what would be a shock result in the Czech Republic.
At the time of writing, Holder is priced at 25/1 to emerge victorious in 32Red Australia’s betting markets but most speedway fans will be expecting Fricke to continue his dominance on the big stage. He has certainly played a key role for the Belle Vue Aces since joining the team from the Edinburgh Monarchs in 2015, as you can see from the video below.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the U21 Speedway title is certainly up for grabs. It is very difficult to call. Right now, Poland’s Krystian Pieszczek is looking like the man to beat in an amazing start to the World Championship finals.
While Fricke came up trumps in the second race of the event back in May, Pieszczek has been there or thereabouts throughout the entire process and the final few circuits look as though they will suit his bike much more than Fricke and that could be a key factor in determining the destiny of the title.
After all, Fricke is used to riding on British and Australian tracks, not Eastern European circuits, and the difference in terrain could affect his ability to perform at the top level. The 500cc senior rider will be looking to use all of his experience and intelligence throughout the meeting; and his knowledge could give him a slight advantage over his rivals.
Pieszczek defied the odds to beat Robert Lambert at King’s Lynn in June and the Polish youngster will be full of confidence ahead of the Pardubice meeting after winning the opening stage. However, both Fricke and Holder will also be heavily involved in the battle for top spot and it would be foolish to rule either man out even though the crown may be a step beyond Holder’s capabilities right now. He will need a lot to go his way in order to win the crown.
That isn’t to say Holder isn’t talented; he obviously is. However, it doesn’t look like he will be able to come out on top against the likes of Pieszczek, Fricke and Great Britain rider Robert Lambert although he is currently just ahead of his compatriot in the standings.
World U21 standings after round 1:
Fricke’s experience and desire to win may give him the mental edge as he pushes to claim the world title and his three domestic crowns show that he is certainly capable of holding his nerve under severe pressure. He wasn’t perfect during the qualifying rounds but he was able to send out a statement of intent to his main rivals ahead of what could be a memorable few weeks for Australian speedway fans.
Whilst Holder is considered an outsider for glory, Fricke is perhaps destined for greater things and he may be the main challenger to Pieszczek’s dominance in the finals – he is currently 7/2 with 32Red Australia and NetBet to lift the U21 title at the end of the third set of races. In round one of the finals, the Poland star was crowned as the deserved winner but Fricke wasn’t too far away in third.
The Australian really does need to snatch victory in Pardubice though. Pieszczek might be too strong on his home track in Gdansk in the third and final race of the competition. Neither Australian rider will want it to go down to the wire.
You can see highlights from one of the earlier rounds below.
Only time will tell but Fricke and Holder could shock the world and topple Pieszczek at the top of the world rankings. Lambert will be a real threat to the Australian riders, especially on the Eastern European circuit and it would be foolish to write anybody off. If nothing else, one thing is for sure: it is set to be a phenomenal, exciting encounter – you won’t want to miss it!