King’s Lynn Stars teenager Robert Lambert impressed after making his Speedway World Cup debut for Great Britain on Monday night at Lynn’s Adrian Flux Arena and expected to be picked for Thursday night’s race-off.
Seventeen-year-old Lambert, the youngest rider ever to represent Team GB in this competition, scored seven including defeating world champion Greg Hancock in front of 5,000 fans against Australia, USA and Latvia.
Australian skipper Chris Holder insists his side have the class to land their first world championship since 2002 after they triumphed in Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Event 2 at Lynn on Monday.
The Roos were victorious on 47 points to see off a brave Team Great Britain challenge and book their place alongside hosts Denmark and Event 1 winners Sweden in Saturday’s Monster Energy SWC Final at legendary Danish track Vojens.
The Lions finished second on 43 to earn the consolation prize of a berth in Thursday’s Race Off, which also takes place at Vojens. They are joined by the USA, who were third on 22. Event 1 runners-up Poland and Russia complete the line-up.
Australia earned their spot with a rock-solid team performance as Jason Doyle led the charge on 13, while debutant Nick Morris tallied a terrific 12. Troy Batchelor joined Holder on 11 points.
Despite the men from Down Under facing a stiff Scandinavian test in the Final, Holder is certain his Roos have what it takes to end their 13-year wait for team speedway’s biggest prize.
He said: “We haven’t won for a little while, so we are due one hopefully. If we go there and do something on Saturday, we’ll be pretty happy.
“We have the team to do it – it comes down to what happens on the day. We have to make it happen. Vojens is a tricky track. It can be slick, but there can also be a lot of dirt on it.
“We have nothing to lose. We’re there, so let’s go for it and see what we can do.
“I think the Danes have done a fair few laps there over the years. But I’ve been there a lot of times and Troy has raced a couple of meetings there.
“I don’t think Nick has, but we have Friday to practice and it depends who turns up on the Saturday. If we can do something great on Saturday, it will be special for all of us.”
Holder was elated to avoid the cutthroat Race Off, where only the winners earn a place in Saturday’s title decider. He added: “It’s always a battle between us and GB here. We’re pretty happy to get the win overall and go straight through to the Final. The Race Off is going to be a difficult one for everyone that’s in there. The pressure is off us now a little bit, so we can get ready for Saturday.”
Team GB boss Alun Rossiter admitted “I couldn’t have asked for anymore” from his Lions as they took the battle for a Monster Energy SWC Final spot all the way to heat 19.
Doyle charged around triple British champion Chris Harris to snatch victory in that race and put victory beyond the hosts’ reach.
Rosco was proud of his stars as Harris and 2013 world champion Tai Woffinden both racked up 13 points apiece. Danny King tallied 10 and King’s Lynn teenager Robert Lambert put in a solid display on his Monster Energy SWC debut, scoring seven. But the Lions boss accepts the Roos had the edge.
He said: “I couldn’t have asked for anymore. Everybody did their job. They did their country proud. Australia were in pole position once they got their noses in front after heat 16. The Aussies made some good starts and the best team won at the end of the day.
“It was a great meeting, but Australia were just that little bit better than us. Not much, only four points, but it was enough.
“I’m very encouraged by what I saw from my boys. We have a bright future ahead of us.”
Rosco looks set to keep faith with his Lions heroes, who were roared on by a large, partisan home crowd at the Adrian Flux Arena.
Asked if he planned any team changes for the Race Off, he said: “I haven’t really thought about it. But if I’m honest, I couldn’t really change much at the moment. I’m taking the same five to Vojens. Our reserve Kyle Howarth rode really well in practice and looked pretty quick.
“If I have to bring him in, I’ll have no worries. They’re the five I am sticking with. I’ll consider anything – we’ll have to see at practice. But at the moment, if I’m being honest, I’ll probably leave it as it is.”
World champion Hancock led the USA charge, scoring 12 of their 22 points. While the Americans enter the Race Off as rank outsiders, he is certain they can snatch some points from Poland, Russia and Team GB after earning a place in the world’s top six for the third year running.
He said: “For us, this is great. We want to avoid going to the qualifying rounds every year that we can. We’ve done that. Now we have to regroup and pull something a little bit more special out at Vojens.
“It will be hard, but we’re in it to show we want to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
“Right now we just want to show everyone we mean business. Being underdogs is one thing, but while they’re all focusing on each other, we can also steal points away from them at the same time.”
The draw has been made for the Monster Energy SWC Race Off at Vojens on Thursday. The USA race in red, while Poland are drawn in blue. Russia compete in white and the Brits line up in yellow.
Tickets for the Race Off and Final are still on sale. Visit www.monsterenergyswc.com for more details.
MONSTER ENERGY SWC EVENT 2 SCORES:
AUSTRALIA 47: 1 Chris Holder 11, 2 Nick Morris 12, 3 Troy Batchelor 11, 4 Jason Doyle 13.
TEAM GREAT BRITAIN 43: 1 Chris Harris 13, 2 Danny King 10, 3 Tai Woffinden 13, 4 Robert Lambert 7.
USA 22: 1 Greg Hancock 12, 2 Gino Manzares 4, 3 Ryan Fisher 5, 4 Max Ruml 1.
LATVIA 9: 1 Maksims Bogdanovs 3, 2 Andzejs Lebedevs 5, 3 Kasts Puodzuks 1, 4 Jevgenijs Kostigovs 0.