The chase for the World Championship approaches the halfway stage this weekend with the FIM Speedway GP of Sweden taking place at Malilla. The Skrotfrag Arena is one of the most familiar venues on the calendar having already hosted 17 GPs dating back to 2005, and this year it stages Round 5 of 11.

Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography

It’s a venue which holds happy memories for series leader Bartosz Zmarzlik, with three previous wins in 2017, 2021 and 2022, but it has also provided success for Dan Bewley and Tai Woffinden.

Bewley, who is contracted to Dackarna in the Swedish Bauhaus-Ligan, triumphed in Malilla in dramatic style last year after a clash between Fredrik Lindgren and Martin Vaculik in the first running of the Final.

And Tai Woffinden was also victorious back in 2014, the year after he won his first world title.

This season though has gone far from according to plan for Woffinden, who picked up just one point in Prague and is already 30 points adrift of the top six.

Bewley is closer to that position although scoring only five in Prague was a setback, after he had made the semi-finals in the two rounds prior to that.

He is currently placed ninth on 33 points, 14 behind sixth-placed Mikkel Michelsen, but goes into the meeting on a high after completing his hat-trick of British titles last weekend at Belle Vue.

Robert Lambert is the highest placed GB rider heading into the event, as he sits in third place on 53 points having reached the semi-finals in all four rounds so far, and the Final at Warsaw.

He also has a consistent record at Malilla with Semi-Final appearances in the last two seasons, and he starts the meeting 13 points adrift of Zmarzlik and just one short of second-placed Jack Holder.

The weekend also features the first round of the SGP2 series on Friday evening with Leon Flint representing Great Britain having come through last weekend’s qualifier at Macon.

There will be new faces on the podium this year as none of the 2023 top four are competing, with champion Mateusz Cierniak now outside the age range.

Flint’s previous SGP2 experience was as a Wild Card at Cardiff in 2022, whilst five riders will be racing in an SG2 event for the first time.

Favourites include Ukranian racer Nazar Parnitskyi, who scored a 15-point maximum in his qualifier, last year’s fifth-place finisher Casper Henriksson who won at Macon, and Polish youngster Wiktor Przyjemski who also progressed from France.

In the PGE Eskstraliga on Thursday, Czestochowa maintained their excellent form with a 52-37 win at Zielona Gora, leaving them level on points with Wroclaw and Gorzow behind runaway leaders Lublin.

Leon Madsen put his personal issues – which have led to him standing down from the Danish SON squad – to one side as he picked up 13 points from five rides, with Maksym Drabik (12) and Mads Hansen (11+1) also in the major points.

Rasmus Jensen top scored for the hosts with 11 points, and they suffered a bizarre exclusion for Przemyslaw Pawlicki in Heat 10 when a cover fell from his bike and the referee elected to stop the race.

The other fixture this weekend is a Round 7 match between Gorzow and Leszno on Sunday, after which all clubs will have completed eight matches.

Gorzow will go above Wroclaw into second place with a home win, whilst Leszno are currently bottom of the table although victory on the road would put them above Grudziadz.

There is a full programme of racing in Metalkas 2. Ekstraliga with leaders Bydgoszcz facing a difficult trip to third placed Ostrow on Sunday, whilst Rybnik can take over at the top on Saturday if they defeat Poznan at home.

Gdansk bid to move off the bottom of the table, and they travel to Krosno who have been out of form in recent weeks, although Tom Brennan is not named in their starting line-up for this meeting.

The other Sunday fixture sees Lodz host Rzeszow with both sides level on four points immediately above Gdanski in the league table.

In the National Speedway League there are two Round 6 fixtures this weekend with Gniezno hosting Opole on Saturday, whilst Daugavpils face Tarnow on Sunday although Steve Worrall is not names in the starting seven for the Latvian squad.