FIME European Solo semi-final at Royal Leamington SPA
#93 – Ex Double European Champion James Shanes – Pictures by Jesper Veldhuizen
Midshires Grass Track Club are set to host one of the biggest Grass Track events in UK this Sunday as they play host to the second FIME European Individual Grass Track Semi Final, where some of Europe’s best Grass Track racers are set to do battle at the Midland venue, near Royal Leamington Spa.
From the 18 competitors taking part in the event on Sunday, just the top nine will qualify for the European Final, which will be held in Bad Hersfeld, Germany on 17th August. With three English riders already safely through to the Final from the first semi-final held at the beginning of the month, British hopes are extremely high for this year’s competition being held on home turf with seven British riders hoping to flood August’s Final with UK talent.
Heading the line-up for the British contingent is reigning British Masters Grass Track champion Zach Wajtknecht. Having won his first British Masters title in 2018, the 21-year-old followed it up by finishing third in the European Championships and firmly announcing himself as a contender for the future.
Another rider with history in the competition is James Shanes. The 22-year old made history by winning back-to-back European titles in 2016 and 2017. He hoped to defend his title again in 2018, but it was not to be. The three-time British Masters champion will be desperate to win back this coveted title, and his journey begins at Leamington Spa on Sunday.
Two other Brits with an excellent record in the European Championships are experienced riders Andrew Appleton and Paul Hurry, both being previous European champions. Hurry’s European title came in 2005, and he has been a finalist in the competition many times. Appleton, who is currently contesting the FIM World Long Track Championships, won his European crown in 2010, after narrowly missing out several times. In fact, the 37-year-old has been on the podium in the European Championships six times.
Other Brits competing on Sunday will be Paul Cooper, Richard Hall with reserves Charley Powell and Jamie Fenn-Smith.
#84 – The Flying Dutchman Romano Hummel – Pictures by Jesper Veldhuizen
As well at the home interest, riders from five other countries make the journey across the channel in the hope of qualifying for the Final. Heading the overseas contingent is former European champion Stephan Katt. The popular German has won the title three times and would love to add a fourth on home soil in August, should of course he get through Sunday’s Semi Final.
A very exciting addition to Sunday’s line up is Dutch youngster Romano Hummel. The twenty-year old is setting the sport alight at the moment, having already established himself as a World Long Track star. Although he’s yet to win a major individual title, many see him as a future world champion and it is only a matter of time before he reaches the pinnacle of the sport.
The only Danish rider joining the event is Kenneth Kruse Hansen. Having raced regularly in the British speedway leagues since 2007, he is well-known to UK race fans. He has turned his attention to Grass Track and Long Track and has already been making waves in the sport, taking the scalps of many top riders. The 31-year-old recently won the International Grass Track at Germany’s famous Osnabruck circuit.
France will be represented by four riders, including Jerome Lespinasse, who has been a World Long Track Grand Prix regular since 2008, though he has had to sit this year out. Without the World Long Track to chase, Lespinasse will desperately want to make an impact on the European competition.
As well as the European Semi Final, there will be full support from the 1000cc sidecars. The country’s top 180bhp monsters will do battle at the event, providing a perfect accompaniment to the European main event. To make sure that there is plenty of action on track, a strong national 500cc solo class will also be racing. This will include Tom Perry, who has already qualified for the European Final having finished 8th at the Bielefeld Semi Final.
All of the details of the event, plus a full line up in all classes can be found at www.midshiresGrass Track.com or on their Facebook page. All of the action is set to take place on Sunday, with practice beginning at 8.30am. The first race is due to commence at 1.30pm.