EUROPEAN PREVIEW - SEC Gustrow
AFTER the excitement of the World Cup, the next major event on the 2023 schedule is the second round of the Speedway Euro Championship at Gustrow on Saturday.
Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography
Danish duo Leon Madsen and Mikkel Michelsen are expected to fight it out for the title, with one point separating the riders after the opener in Czestochowa in June, but neither has ever won at the German venue.
Janusz Kolodziej was successful in 2022 on the unique track, and both he and fellow Pole Dominik Kubera will be looking to make up ground after missing round one due to injury.
Great Britain’s Adam Ellis made an encouraging start to his second season in the SEC competition, winning his opening ride, and he goes into the meeting with five points on the board.
Meanwhile it is crunch time in the PGE Ekstraliga and Division One this weekend with the final regular rounds of fixtures taking place, with play-off and relegation places to be decided.
The top two in the Ekstraliga are already decided ahead of the clash between Wroclaw and Lublin on Sunday, with the hosts having suffered their first defeat of the season when they lost at Leszno just prior to the World Cup break.
However, they will face a Lublin side without the injured Jack Holder, and therefore the likes of Dan Bewley and Tai Woffinden will be confident of overcoming the visitors in a meeting which also features Polish World Cup heroes Bartosz Zmarzlik, Maciej Janowski and Kubera.
Gorzow and Czestochowa will finish third and fourth, and both are at home on Friday with Robert Lambert’s Torun side, who have safely reached the play-offs, travelling to Gorzow – and who have now confirmed officially that coach Robert Sawina has left the club.
The remaining play-off issue surrounds Leszno, who have 11 points, and Grudziadz who have nine. A top six finish for GKM is still unlikely as they have a tough trip to Czestochowa, but if they do win there on Friday then it would pile the pressure on Leszno to get the job done at already relegated Krosno on Sunday.
In Division One, Zielona Gora look to complete a clean sweep of 14 wins out of 14 when they race at home to third-placed Rybnik on Sunday.
The visitors are already safely in the play-offs and could finish as high as second with a surprise away win, although Ostrow are favourites for that position as they are at home to Gdansk.
Relegation looks likely for Poznan, who have eight points, but they could still get out of trouble with a win at Landshut, and that would mean Lodz (on 10) needing points at home to Bydgoszcz, whose own play-off place is assured.
Lodz themselves have incentive to move up the table as well as protecting their Division One place, as they are only two points behind Gdansk and Landshut and could therefore still make the play-offs.
There are three matches in Division Two this weekend with leaders Opole tracking Ellis in their line-up as they host second-bottom Pila, featuring his Sheffield team-mate Dan Gilkes.
Rzeszow are three points off top spot at the moment as they face bottom club Rawicz, whilst the other match involves play-off hopefuls as Gniezno clash with Daugavpils, both currently on 11 points.
The Under-24 Ekstraliga resumed on Tuesday although the top two were not in action, and third placed Ostrow were beaten 48-42 at Lublin with Leon Flint scoring four points for the visitors.
Elsewhere, Leszno climbed into the top four above Grudziadz with a 54-36 home win, whilst Czestochowa recorded a 46-44 win over Torun in the battle of two sides in the lower half of the table. Sam Hagon took two rides for the home team but did not score.
The resumption of the Swedish Bauhaus-Ligan saw Vastervik move clear at the top with a 53-37 win over bottom club Smederna, with Woffinden scoring 8+3 from five rides for the hosts.
Robert Lambert collected 11+1 from six for the Eskilstuna side, who picked up a welcome victory on Wednesday when they defeated Indianerna 48-42 with Lambert scoring 9+1.
Bewley was in blistering form for Dackarna at Indianerna on Tuesday, scoring 16+1 from six rides and dropping his only point to Max Fricke in his first outing, but they went down to a 50-40 defeat to lose ground on Vastervik.
Elsewhere, Rospiggarna edged out Lejonen 47-43 in a tight fight for play-off places behind the top two.