Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Sunday, 28 Oct 2007: New Zealand's 16 year old Ricky Wells thrilled thousands with dominant skills to win Asia's first ever FIM sanctioned speedway event held in Malaysia, the Malaysian International Speedway Cup, in Kuala Lumpur last night (27th Oct). He scored the maximum 12 points in the heats and recorded the fastest ever time at Speedway Malaysia's Family Park track with a time of 56.68s in heat 3.
Sam Taylor, 26, also from New Zealand but competing under the Australian flag won 2 heats and scored 12 points in the preliminar heats, tried hard to beat Wells in the grand final race but had to settle for second.
Competing for Britain after a long layoff from speedway, Linden Warner beat Japan's Hideaki Ota to third to grab the last podium spot.
Five young Malaysians who had never riden a 500cc speedway bike before 5 weeks ago could not match the winners over four laps but they won the crowd's and the foreign riders respect as they were able to race them for the initial laps.
Eighteen year old Mohd Helmey Hamzah eventually won the consolation final to win the coveted "best Malaysian" trophy from 21 year old reserve rider Mohd Ariff Mohd Ali. Ariff replaced Rody Sofian Buang after Rody had to retire from a recurring collar bone problem after a fall in heat 4.
The glittering prize presentation ceremony complete with the raising of the national flags and the winner's national anthem and confetti was officiated by the Deputy Minister of Youth & Sports Malaysia, Dato' Liow Tiong Lai.
At the post event press conference after his win, a jubilant Wells praised the Malaysian organisers and the Malaysian rookies for putting up a very good show saying, "This is my first international and I'm very happy to be on the record as the first ever winner of a first winner of an Asia Speedway Cup. The organising was very slick and the Malaysian boys amazed me with their performance as they had so little time on a proper speedway bike before this as compared to my 8 years in the sport. The sport can go very far in Malaysia."
“It was not an easy win … Sam was very fast as well and always pushing me from behind and I had to stay focus and push all the way throughout the race,” added Wells, whose achievement list included the 2007 US under-21 overall champion and the US Youth National Champion titles in 2005 and 2004.
Taylor had similar praises for the Malaysians, "I was here in July to demo the 500cc speedway bike in Malaysia's first ever speedsway event when not a single Malaysian has ever riden in speedway before. They had then just started on the 115cc small bikes. In a little over 3 months and a bit, they suddenly have a dozen Malaysian capable of racing with riders with 8 and more years experience. The Malaysians will definitely be giving us a big hurry up in next year's Malaysian International Speedway Cup."
“Looking at the event, I feel that the prospect of the sports progressing further is very good. The cost of having the speedway tracks and organizing the races are quite low as compared to many other events,” said Deputy Minister of Youth & Sports Dato' Liow, who also proposed that speedway tracks be built in all the states to popularize the sport further.
“Speedway racing has proven to be a popular sport among our youths especially among our rempits (illegal road racers).There is definitely a huge market for the sport and I hope more parties will come forward and play their part in promoting this sport,” he added.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Best rider, 18 year old Muhammad Helmy Hamzah thanked his family and friends for his achievement. “Speedway has changed me from a former rempit (illegal road racer) to a professional rider. This sport has taught me to be a disciplined and a better person. It’s the best thing that has happened to me,” he said.
Representing Speedway Malaysia, Hanifah Yoong said the good progress of this new sport of speedway in Malaysia owes it's success to many people and organisations, "Without the foresight of the Minister of Youth & Sports Malaysia, Dato' Seri Azalina to support the implementation of the speedway project, the invaluable advice of Ivan Mauger, the support of the FIM and AAM, the training of key officials by Matthias Rohde and the coacing of Linden Warner as well as the dedication of the scores of officials and riders, we will not be here tonight celebrating the year's efforts in this prestigious and historical event which Malaysia made her mark."
Speedway Malaysia also announced that next season's 2008 calendar will be released shortly before the end of November.
1. Ricky Wells (NZL), 2. Sam Taylor (AUS), 3. Linden Warner (GBR), 4. Hideaki Ota (JPN), 5. Mohd Helmy Hamzah (MAL), 6. Mohd Ariff Mohd Ali, 7. Mohd Abdussobur Turino (MAL), 8. Mohd Haniff Borhan (Malaysia)