Ekstraliga Review - Round Two
National captain Tai Woffinden was the highest scorer of the British contingent racing in Round 2 of the Polish Ekstraliga this week.
Image courtesy of Darren Bott
But there was frustration for all three Great Britain riders involved in the delayed fixtures, after bad weather ruled out the planning stagings last Friday. Woffinden collected 9+1 from six rides in Wroclaw’s 53-37 defeat at reigning champions Leszno on Monday, as the battle between two of Poland’s big-hitting sides went firmly in favour of the hosts.
Woffinden won two races and also teamed up with Maciej Janowski for a 5-1 when he took a tactical substitute ride in Heat 8 – but by then a hat-trick of Leszno maximums had put them firmly in control.
There were some tremendous battles involving Woffinden and Piotr Pawlicki, but with the home side superbly led by Emil Sayfutdinov – unbeaten until being edged out by Janowski in a classic Heat 15 – and Janusz Kolodziej, they were clear winners.
For Dan Bewley, it was another reminder of just how tough the World’s top league can be, as two last places saw him replaced from his remaining rides. Bewley was on the pace with former World U21 Champion Bartosz Smektala in Heat 1, but after losing out to Pawlicki and Dominik Kubera in Heat 6 that proved the end of his night as his remaining rides were taken by Janowski and Gleb Chugunov.
Lambert was in action for struggling Rybnik on Tuesday, where a 58-32 defeat at Grudziadz in which he scored six points didn’t tell the full story of an entertaining night of racing.
Once again the British star was used in the No.8 position and had to wait until Heat 6 before being sent into action, where he immediately offered a challenge to Artem Laguta – the impressive Russian who is now unbeaten from both of his opening meetings. Lambert added two further second places, one of which came in an exciting Heat 9 when he and Andzejs Lebedevs re-passed Krzysztof Buczkowski on the run to the line as the Pole suffered a late puncture.
But there was a dramatic and frightening end to the meeting in Heat 15, ironically when Lambert and Lebedevs looked set to end Laguta’s winning run and gain Rybnik a consolation 5-1. In trying to fend off the challenge of Laguta and Nicki Pedersen, Lambert was forced to cover all areas of the track, and after sweeping around the outside at the end of lap three, he clipped team-mate Lebedevs on the straight and the Latvian crashed heavily. Unfortunately, Lebedevs suffered a suspected fractured leg, whilst Lambert was excluded and Grudziadz raced to a 5-1 in the re-run.
Elsewhere in the second round of matches, Czestochowa raced to a landslide 59-31 away win at Zielona Gora to go top of the table from Leszno on race-points difference – whilst Gorzow are point-less along with Rybnik after going down 53-37 at Lublin, with the injury absence of Niels-Kristian Iversen once again proving costly.