EUROPEAN PREVIEW - SEC Final 1 / PGE Ekstraliga
Great Britain duo Robert Lambert and Dan Bewley launch their Speedway Euro Championship campaign in Bydgoszcz on Saturday.
Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning Photography
The series runs over four rounds with subsequent events at Gdansk, Gustrow and Rybnik, and as in 2020 there is the added incentive of a place in next season’s Grand Prix for the overall winner.
Lambert was superb last year in overcoming Leon Madsen in a straight head-to-head, and the Dane will be one of his biggest rivals again as he bids for back-to-back titles, a feat which has not been achieved since Emil Sayfutdinov in 2015.
Bewley, meanwhile, makes his debut in the series after his superb display in the SEC Challenge last month, and there will be huge interest in his performances especially given his storming form for Wroclaw.
There are four other former winners in a highly competitive field, with Nicki Pedersen (2016), Andzejs Lebedevs (2017), Madsen (2018) and Mikkel Michelsen (2019) all looking for their second titles along with Lambert – and Polish duo Patryk Dudek and Piotr Pawlicki also have extensive GP experience.
Lambert’s first ride is Heat 3 when he has the inside start against Kai Huckenbeck, Jacob Thorssell (replacing the injured David Bellego) and Timo Lahti, whilst Bewley is out in Heat 4 against Sergey Logachev, Lebedevs and Vaclav Milik.
Lambert faces Dudek and Madsen in a tasty Heat 12, whilst Bewley and Lambert meet in Heat 15 along with Michelsen and Patrick Hansen.
The GB riders do not have far to go in order to reach Bydgoszcz as ironically they also meet on Friday evening when league leaders Wroclaw travel to Torun in the PGE Ekstraliga.
Current form is firmly in Wroclaw’s favour as they go into the meeting on a run of five straight wins, and only need 40 points to secure the aggregate bonus – whereas Torun have lost their last four matches.
The British match-ups will be of particular interest, with Tai Woffinden and Lambert set to meet in Heat 1, Woffinden and Bewley racing twice as a combination, and Heat 12 features Lambert versus Bewley.
Elsewhere on Friday a key clash of play-off contenders sees Leszno in urgent need of points at home to Czestochowa, who have won their last four but lost the reverse fixture 49-41 back in April.
Sunday’s matches feature an intriguing clash between fourth-placed Lublin and second-placed Gorzow – whilst bottom side Grudziadz host second-bottom Zielona Gora in a crucial relegation fixture.
In Division One, Great Britain youngster Leon Flint could be set for a big opportunity as he is named as No.8 for Rybnik when they host bottom club Tarnow on Friday.
Elsewhere, Bydgoszcz host Gniezno on Saturday whilst Lodz face second-placed Ostrow. Leaders Krosno are at home to Gdansk on Monday.
There are two fixtures in Division Two on Sunday with Landshut hosting Rzeszow – who have announced a Polish-only line-up for the meeting - whilst Opole face Wittstock.
In Sweden on Tuesday, Vetlanda won 48-42 at Piraterna thanks to a maximum from Bartosz Zmarzlik, but Adam Ellis impressed for the home side with 10+2.
Dackarna defeated Masarna 55-35, but Lambert’s fixture for Lejonen at Smederna was postponed due to track conditions. Thursday’s action saw Rospiggarna defeat Indianerna 56-34.