EUROPEAN PREVIEW: SGP Malilla
The Speedway Grand Prix series heads to Sweden this weekend with the penultimate round of the series taking place at Malilla.
Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning Photography
Home of Elitserien side Dackarna, the venue has been a regular on the calendar since 2005 and has staged an event in all but two seasons since then.
It could also see the crowning of Bartosz Zmarzlik as a three-time World Champion, a feat he will achieve if he scores at least four GP points and finishes ahead of his only real rival, Leon Madsen, on the night.
The more fascinating battle is over third place overall, with Great Britain duo Dan Bewley and Robert Lambert both firmly in the fight.
Both have stormed up the rankings during the season, with Bewley starting his charge by winning at both Cardiff and Wroclaw – results which followed successive semi-final appearances at Prague, Teterow and Gorzow.
Bewley has 91 points, one ahead of Patryk Dudek who has reached four of the last five Finals, whilst Lambert is on 86 after finishing third and second in the last two GPs.
Lambert’s good run started at Teterow where he finished fourth, and he then made the semis at Gorzow, before a blip at Cardiff where he scored just five – but over the last two GPs, he and Madsen are the top overall scorers with a total of 34.
Maciej Janowski completes the top six on 76 points, with Fredrik Lindgren and Tai Woffinden just behind on 74.
Woffinden has fond memories of Malilla from his victory in the 2014 series, although he has a mixed record overall with four semi-final appearances out of eight meetings. He rode for Dackarna in 2021 as they clinched the Bauhaus-Ligan title.
The best record at Malilla, unsurprisingly, belongs to Zmarzlik who has made the semi-finals in all five of his appearances, and won the meeting in both 2017 and 2021. Lindgren is also a past winner at the venue in 2019.
Swedish action this week was affected by the weather, although Lejonen were able to take a 49-41 win over Dackarna in the first leg of their semi-final.
Zmarzlik scored 13+1 in that meeting and in-form Dominik Kubera collected 14, with Brady Kurtz picking up 12 for the defending champions.
Smederna’s clash with Rospiggarna, featuring Lambert and Bewley, was rained off and will now take place on Monday, with both second legs due to be run on Tuesday.
The main focus in Poland this weekend is the race to reach the Ekstraliga, with Zielona Gora hosting Krosno on Sunday and facing a 40-50 deficit from last week’s first leg.
The home side will look to book an immediate return to the top flight, although even if they do so they seem set for major changes over the winter with Max Fricke and Jan Kvech set to depart, whilst Piotr Protasiewicz is set to retire.
Krosno are led by Tobiasz Musielak, Vaclav Milik and Andzejs Lebedevs as they look to complete the job with 41 points on the day required to secure promotion – but they only managed 30 on their previous visit to the Municipal Stadium in mid-August, albeit with a weaker team than they track this weekend.
Promotion to Division One is also on the line with Opole trailing Poznan 37-53 heading into their home leg on Sunday – but with Francis Gusts, a maximum scorer in the first leg – likely to be out injured, this could also prove an interesting contest.