EUROPEAN PREVIEW: SEC Rybnik
Great Britain duo Dan Bewley and Adam Ellis launch their Speedway Euro Championship campaign when the series gets underway in Rybnik on Saturday.
Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography
Bewley is entering his second season in the competition having finished an impressive fifth on his debut last year, securing an automatic place for 2022 by defeating Polish star Bartosz Smektala in a run-off after they tied on overall points.
And given his Ekstraliga form and his GP performances in the first half of the season, Bewley has to be a good bet to go even further in the SEC this time around, with the winner again receiving a guaranteed place in the 2023 SGP series.
The bookmakers rate him fifth favourite, behind four joint favourites for the title, underlining the open nature of this series.
The other expected top contenders are double and reigning champion Mikkel Michelsen, 2018 winner Leon Madsen, last year’s third place finisher and very much in-form Patryk Dudek, and Leszno’s Janusz Kolodziej, who is back in the SEC for the first time since 2016 and a definite man to watch.
Ellis, meanwhile, joins the SEC for the first time after battling his way through the qualifying rounds, having initially reached the Challenge as reserve and then been promoted into the line-up after Kolodziej’s injury.
He then finished fifth at Krsko to book his place, and will be looking to make an impression on the series exactly as Robert Lambert and Bewley have done in recent years.
After Saturday’s round at Rybnik, the series moves on to Gustrow on August 6 and then Lodz and Pardubice in September.
In this week’s U24 Ekstraliga action, Anders Rowe was the top-scoring British rider with eight from five rides – but Gorzow went down to a 40-50 home defeat to Wroclaw, for whom Jack Smith scored one.
Leszno are top of the table after taking a bonus point from a 47-43 defeat at Torun, for whom Kyle Bickley failed to score from two rides, and Ostrow are joint leaders after winning 49-40 at Lublin, and they also have a match in hand.
Elsewhere Grudziadz defeated Czestochowa 47-42 and are third in the table, three points behind the top two. Jason Edwards scored six points for the home side, whilst Jordan Jenkins scored 3+1 and Sam Hagon three for the visitors.
Meanwhile in Sweden on Thursday Lambert scored 14 points from six rides as Smederna were edged out 46-44 at Vastervik, with Bewley not involved as he prepares for a busy weekend in Poland. Lambert won four of his six races, but the home side took the victory with a 4-2 in Heat 15.
This weekend’s Ekstraliga action is Round 11 out of 14, with runaway leaders Lublin hosting third-placed Torun on Sunday, meaning Lambert will race against one of his former clubs. He scored 14 from six rides on his return last season.
Bewley and Tai Woffinden are in action at home for Wroclaw on Friday, and they currently hold the sixth and final play-off position ahead of their clash with Czestochowa, who are one place and two points higher.
Grudziadz are the team just outside the play-offs, and they will find it tough at second-placed Gorzow on Friday, whilst Leszno could make progress from fourth as they visit point-less Ostrow on Sunday.
Round 10 of Division One action sees the leaders Bydgoszcz in action in the first fixture of the weekend at home to Lodz on Saturday.
Meanwhile on Sunday second placed Zielona Gora have offered free admission to supporters for the match against third placed Landshut, as compensation for last weekend’s defeat at Gdansk!
Elsewhere, Krosno host Rybnik who have fallen to the foot of the table, whilst Gniezno are also in serious relegation danger ahead of their home match with Gdansk.
In Division Two, Tom Brennan rides for Rawicz on Saturday in their top-of-the-table clash with Opole, who are just one point ahead.
Ellis is in the Daugavpils team for Sunday’s clash with Pila, with the home side strong favourites, whilst two other bottom-half sides meet as Poznan host Rzeszow.