CZECH Republic rider Ondřej Svědík raced to victory in the opening round of the 2023 FIM Flat Track World Championships at Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium on Saturday night.
The meeting bookended a weekend-long series of international events that began on Friday with the first Women’s Speedway Academy to be held at Belle Vue since the initiative took off last year.
The club then hosted a star-studded evening with multiple world champions Jason Crump and Greg Hancock headlining our ‘Evening With The Stars on August 4.
28 of the world’s best in Flat Track competition then took to the shale on Saturday as the 2023 world championship series began, and it was a night that had it all.
Despite persistent morning rain, proceedings got underway on schedule but the track presented a unique challenge for both man and machine due to the wet conditions.
But the competition was fierce nonetheless, so much so that racing was paused after Heat 12 to allow for more extensive track work after the rain returned during the opening heats.
But the Belle Vue track staff did a fantastic job to return the circuit to a raceable state, and all competitors were even more determined than before to earn their championship points.
The 16 qualifying heats made way for a 10-rider last-chance qualifier and 12-rider grand final in which Czech Republic racer Ondřej Svědík took the chequered flag.
His fellow countryman Ervin Krajčovič followed him home for second place and the USA’s Sammy Halbert claimed third on the night.
Svědík said: “This was a new experience for me. The track in Manchester is very different compared to where I have raced before but I enjoyed the experience.
“To win the first round is huge for me. There are still many rounds to come and this result is a good start to my championship campaign.
“Conditions were challenging to begin with, it was quite wet after the rain but after the track work it was much better for racing and I am delighted to have won.”
Words: Hayley Bromley
Images: Ian Charles