EUROPEAN PREVIEW - EASTER WEEKEND
Round 2 of the PGE Ekstraliga sees the four matches split over two days, with all three British riders in action on Easter Saturday.
Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning Photography
Robert Lambert is first to race this weekend with Torun, who host newcomers Ostrow, whilst Tai Woffinden and Dan Bewley are on the road to Grudziadz for the evening fixture.
Remarkably that can be billed as a top-of-the-table clash after Wroclaw’s 59-31 win over Torun last week was almost matched by Grudziadz, who triumphed 55-35 at Ostrow.
Grudziadz have never opened an Ekstraliga season with two wins in a row – but they did triumph 45-44 in the reverse fixture last season, a result which proved crucial to their survival, when Woffinden crashed out in his first ride.
Both sides continue to use rider-replacement for their suspended Russians, Vadim Tarasenko and Artem Laguta respectively, and Woffinden and Bewley are in action in Heat 1 when they face Przemyslaw Pawlicki who impressed last week
Clashes between Woffinden and Nicki Pedersen are always eagerly anticipated, and the duo are scheduled to meet in Heats 8 and 13.
At Torun, the home side will be confident of securing their first league points of the season – a meeting which features a return to his old home track for Chris Holder.
The former World Champion rode for Torun in 2008-21 but switched to Ostrow over the winter, and the visitors will need a big score from him. They also bring in Nicolai Klindt, surprisingly overlooked in the first round, to replace the injured Oliver Berntzon.
Lambert is named at No.5 for Torun, and his first appearance is a clash with Holder and Tomasz Gapinski in Heat 3.
Sunday’s fixtures begin with Leszno, who made an encouraging start at Czestochowa last week, taking on Gorzow who were very much a bogey side last season.
Bartosz Zmarzlik’s side defeated the Bulls in all four of their meetings in 2021, including in the opening round when they won 48-42 at Leszno, and then latterly in the third-place contest.
Elsewhere, Lublin bid to build on their dramatic win at Gorzow when they host Czestochowa on Sunday evening, and they enter the meeting on a 10-match unbeaten run at home – with Czestochowa being the last away team to triumph with a 51-39 victory back in August 2020.
In Division One the big story of the week has been the departure of manager Adam Skornicki from Lodz, with the former racer now taking over at Division Two side Rawicz – although the two sides do have a co-operation in terms of youth training.
Lodz will now be led by Michal Widera and Piotr Swiderski, with the latter having made the reverse switch from Rawicz.
They travel to Gniezno on Sunday for their opening fixture of the season, whilst Landshut travel to Rybnik on Saturday with concerns over the fitness of Martin Smolinski, who had to pull out of their opener. The other Sunday fixture features Bydgoszcz v Gdansk.
In Division Two, Adam Ellis lines up for Daugavpils alongside fellow UK regular Nick Morris as they host Tarnow on Sunday, whilst on Saturday Rawicz face Rseszow, and on Monday Poznan are at home to newcomers Pila.