EUROPEAN PREVIEW: SGP PRAGUE
Speedway Grand Prix action returns to the Marketa Stadium this weekend with the Czech Republic GP the third round of this year’s series.
Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning Photography
After staging double-headers in the last two seasons, Saturday’s meeting will be the 28th GP at the venue, with recent winners being Bartosz Zmarzlik twice in 2020, before Maciej Janowski and Artem Laguta took the honours last year.
The Prague venue has often been a good one for Tai Woffinden, who finished third in the opening event last year before missing out on the semi-finals on the next day.
Woffinden took his first-ever GP win at the Marketa in 2013, and it was the first of three successive Czech GP victories for the treble World Champion – and he has continued to regularly qualify for Finals there in recent years.
He starts the meeting in tenth place in the overall standings with 14 points, giving him an 18-point gap to leader Zmarzlik.
Meanwhile Robert Lambert is the highest-placed British rider going into the event as he sits seventh in the standings with 18 points – but he will be looking to improve upon previous Prague appearances, as in three meetings he is yet to reach the semi-finals.
Dan Bewley races in a Prague GP for the first time, and goes into the GP on nine points having scored six in Croatia and three at Warsaw.
The Prague weekend also features the first round of the newly re-branded SGP2 series – the former World Under-21 Championship – with Poland’s Jakub Miskowiak defending the title, although unfortunately no British riders are involved.
Midweek action in the Under-24 Ekstraliga was limited to two matches due to rain-offs at Grudziadz and Wroclaw.
Gorzow defeated Czestochowa 55-35 with Anders Rowe making a successful return as he scored 11+2 from five rides for the hosts, whilst Jordan Jenkins picked up 3+1 for the visitors.
Meanwhile Leszno were 53-37 winners at Lublin in a meeting which contained no British involvement.
In Sweden, only two fixtures were completed in Round 4 of the Bauhaus-Ligan, with Vastervik thrashing Masarna 59-30 with a 15-point maximum from Gleb Chugunov, whilst Smederna all-but matched that with a 58-32 win over Piraterna.
Once again the British riders were in double figures with Bewley winning three races on his way to 11 points, despite a tapes exclusion in his second ride, whilst Lambert scored 10+2 and was unbeaten until finishing last in Heat 15.
Thursday’s meeting at Hallstavik was abandoned after seven races due to track conditions with Indianerna 25-17 up over Rospiggarna, but that result does not stand.
Elsewhere, in Denmark Woffinden scored 12+1 from seven rides in Esbjerg’s narrow 44-40 defeat at Holsted, for whom Rasmus Jensen top-scored with 15 points.
With no action in the PGE Ekstraliga this weekend, attention switches to the lower leagues with Division One leaders Zielona Gora travelling to Rybnik on Sunday in a clash of two recent top-flight clubs.
Second-placed Krosno will hope their track issues are behind them as they face Landshut on Saturday, whilst Bydgoszcz are third ahead of a home match against Gniezno, and bottom club Gdansk travel to Lodz.
There are two matches in Division Two, with Daugavpils’ trip to leaders Poznan being put back until early July. Tom Brennan starred for Rawicz last week but he is not involved for their home clash with Tarnow on Saturday as he races for Glasgow at Berwick, whilst the other fixture sees second-placed Opole host Pila.