SEC Round One & Ekstraliga Round Four Review
Great Britain stars Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert both put in top-scoring displays during an eventful weekend of Ekstraliga action.
Image courtesy of Darren Bott
Woffinden collected 13 points from five rides as Wroclaw were held to a dramatic draw at home to Zielona Gora, whilst Lambert piled up 14 from seven as Rybnik were well beaten at Lublin. And to complete a super couple of days, Lambert finished second in the opening round of the Speedway Euro Championship at Torun, and holds a share of the points lead heading to Bydgoszcz on Wednesday.
Woffinden blasted back to form at the Olympic Stadium in a series of battles with GP rival Martin Vaculik, but his side suffered a tough day and found themselves six points down after six races. The first clash between the star duo saw Woffinden superbly pass Vaculik off the last bend in Heat 4, but the Slovakian turned the tables two races later.
Woffinden swept past Patryk Dudek in Heat 13 to finally bring the home team level, but visiting riders won the last two races as Dudek took Heat 14 and Vaculik won a thrilling decider over Woffinden and Maciej Janowski. A dramatic last-bend dive by Woffinden looked set to steal victory, but Vaculik turned back and just won the race to the line to protect a 45-45 outcome.
Lambert, meanwhile, found himself fighting something of a sole battle on his old home track of Lublin, as Rybnik went down to a 59-31 defeat. That would undoubtedly have been a landslide but for the efforts of Lambert, who again rode as No.8 and took the full allocation of seven rides. His two wins in the closing phase of the meeting were both of the highest quality as he switched inside Matej Zagar at the start of the last lap of Heat 11, and two races later he got the better of a highly defensive Jakub Jamrog whilst also fending off Michel Michelsen.
Lambert’s SEC display also showed his class, and will certainly be cause for optimism that he can mount a strong challenge for honours – with a 2021 Grand Prix place the reward for the series winner. He collected three points from his opening two rides, with a tough draw from outside gates, the first featuring a spectacular scrap with wild card Bartosz Zmarzlik. Lambert’s challenge there was hampered when he lifted and had to re-pass Michelsen for second place.
Three successive dominant wins, including one over former champion Leon Madsen, took Lambert into the Final automatically along with Nicki Pedersen. And for a moment it looked like he could repeat his Gustrow triumph of 2018 as Pedersen hit a rut on the exit of the second bend – but as Lambert and Madsen both raced through, Madsen just made it around the outside and took the victory.
Lambert and Pedersen, however, both have 14 points from the opening round, with Madsen two back on 12, whilst Bartosz Smektala and reigning champion Michelsen are also very much in contention.
Elsewhere in the Ekstraliga, champions Leszno maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 48-42 win at Grudziadz, making sure of victory thanks to a last-race 4-2 from Piotr Pawlicki and Smektala. The other unbeaten side, Czestochowa, must await a verdict on their match at Gorzow on Friday which was abandoned after ten races due to an electrical fire.
The home side led 32-28 at the time a halt was called, which would be the stage that a result would be declared should the weather intervene – but the Ekstraliga will have to reach a decision, with a complete re-run or a Czestochowa walkover also possible outcomes.