U.S. team set for FIM Speedway World Cup, begins qualifying

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The U.S. team eying international success at the FIM Speedway World Cup this summer begins its journey with its initial qualifying round in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on May 5.

The U.S. team, finalized within the past few days, includes Greg Hancock, Billy Hamill, Ryan Fisher and Ricky Wells. Also on the team as a reserve rider is Kenny Ingalls. Wells was in question due to a recent injury but testing this past week demonstrated that he is ready.

"Ricky is riding again, and did very well on Monday," said Steve Evans, a member of the AMA's speedway advisory group that is assisting with effort. "Ricky will take the remaining spot on the team, but Kenny is still very much part of all this, and a good run of form could see him working his way into the squad for the next stage of competition if we qualify."

The U.S. team is led by reigning FIM World Champion Greg Hancock and 1996 FIM World Champion Billy Hamill.

"I'm really pumped to be riding alongside Greg again," said Hamill, who also is five-time U.S. champion, winning his most recent title in 2007. "We have had a lot of success as teammates, and won four FIM Speedway World Cup gold medals from 1990 to 1998. This isn't really about me making a comeback, though. It's more about getting U.S.A. back on top, and the FIM Speedway World Cup is the foundation for years to come."

Hamill added that the world championship effort is part of a broader mission to nurture a growing speedway contingent in the United States.

"I, along with Hagon Shocks and Joker Machine, have been working hard the last two years finding and recruiting young talent to speedway," Hamill said. "I would like to see the United States win a another gold medal in the next five to 10 years. This is certainly a big step toward that goal, and I would like to thank the AMA, my U.S. teammates and everybody working so hard toward achieving it. We are so lucky to have such passionate and knowledgeable people involved in this quest for success."

If the U.S. team advances in Slovenia, it will resume FIM Speedway World Cup competition July 7 in Poland or July 9 in Great Britain, based on its qualifying position. The world championship final is July 14 in Sweden, following a race off on July 12.

In addition to Evans, other members of the AMA's speedway advisory group that is supporting and assisting with the FIM Speedway World Cup effort are Hamill, Josh Larsen; Richard Child, Hancock's team manager; and promoters Jason Bonsignore and Dave Joiner.

The FIM Speedway World Cup has been contested since 1960. Re-launched under a new format in 2001, the event features multiple days of competition by a number of national teams, with four qualifying for the finals. The winner of the Speedway World Cup collects the Ove Fundin Trophy, named after the five-time world champion.** **

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