EUROPEAN PREVIEW - SGP Russia
The World Championship series heads to new territory this weekend with the first Grand Prix to take place at Togliatti.
Image courtesy of Steve Hone
The venue was planned to come on to the calendar in 2020 having staged the Speedway of Nations Final the previous year, but its introduction was delayed due to the pandemic.
Reigning champion Bartosz Zmarzlik takes a three-point lead into Round 8 of the series, and he look set to fight out the title with Artem Laguta over the final four events.
Fredrik Lindgren, Emil Sayfutdinov, Maciej Janowski and Tai Woffinden complete the top six at present, with Woffinden holding an 11-point advantage over Leon Madsen in the race for automatic qualification for 2022, with Jason Doyle just one point further back.
Despite missing the 2019 SoN final due to injury, Woffinden does have some big-meeting experience of the Togliatti circuit, having raced in the Speedway Euro Championship round at the venue in 2013.
Woffinden scored 12 points in that meeting, finishing fourth in the Final behind Sayfutdinov, Nicki Pedersen and Grigory Laguta.
The SEC also visited Togliatti in 2014 and 2016 with Pedersen taking the ’14 meeting ahead of Sayfutdinov, Patryk Dudek and Martin Vaculik, whilst in ’16 it was Laguta who took the honours from Antonio Lindback, Madsen and Hans Andersen.
Robert Lambert’s recent experience of Togliatti was not a happy one as he was involved in the crash with team-mate Craig Cook which wrecked GB’s hopes in the 2019 SoN, and he was ruled out of the second day’s racing as a result.
Lambert goes into the meeting in tenth place in the standings on 47 points, with Max Fricke his next target on 59.
The Polish leagues take a break this weekend ahead of play-off action at all three levels in early September, but meetings continued in Sweden on Tuesday.
Leaders Smederna now have a massive nine-point advantage at the top of the Elitserien after winning 49-41 in Vetlanda, whilst Dackarna moved back into second place as they recorded a 48-42 victory at bottom club Piraterna.
Vastervik are still in the top four despite losing 55-35 at Rosigggarna, whilst Lejonen opened up a four-point gap to Vetlanda in fourth and fifth places by defeating Masarna 47-43.
Meanwhile Leon Flint’s highly promising start to life in the Swedish Allsvenskan League continued as he collected 10+1 in Valsarna’s 50-40 defeat at Indianerna.