EUROPEAN PREVIEW: SGP Torun
Great Britain stars Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert go into Grand Prix action for the final time this season in this weekend’s double-header at Torun.
The World Championship title will be decided in a straight head-to-head between Artem Laguta and Bartosz Zmarzlik, with the defending champion just one point behind as he bids to seal a hat-trick of golds.
The battle for third place is just as intense with Emil Sayfutdinov two points ahead of Fredrik Lindgren, whilst Woffinden in fifth place is only one clear of his Wroclaw team-mate Maciej Janowski.
A top-six finish – and automatic qualification for next year - should be fairly secure whatever happens but Leon Madsen on 82 points, 14 behind Woffinden, could challenge if he can recapture some of his previous Torun form.
Lambert, meanwhile, goes into the two meetings on his home Ekstraliga track in eleventh place in the standings on 60 points. He is just three points behind Anders Thomsen, and then has a further 11 to make up on Jason Doyle, and any progress he makes this weekend will be helpful towards advancing his case for a return in 2022.
Woffinden’s last Grand Prix win came at the Marian Rose Motoarena just under three years ago, en route to his third World title when he fended off the threat of Zmarzlik in the final round.
Meanwhile the World Under-21 Champion will also be crowned this weekend with the series decider taking place in Pardubice on Friday.
And a bonus for Great Britain is a call-up for Drew Kemp into the field after a series of injuries, with Mark Karion and Ernest Matjusonoks both missing out after crashing in Krosno last weekend.
British Under-19 Champion Kemp therefore makes his debut in the Final competition in the Czech Republic and will be keen to show he can mix it with his peers at that level.
The title fight itself is between Poland’s Jakub Miskowiak and Denmark’s Mads Hansen with just two points between the riders, whilst Wiktor Lampart is the rider who could profit if the top two slip up by failing to reach the Final on the night.
In the Swedish Elitserien, Woffinden has another Grand Final to look forward to after third-placed Dackarna overturned second-placed Vastervik in the play-off semi-finals.
Woffinden scored ten points from five rides as Dackarna were held to a 47-43 win in their home leg, but they then won 49-41 away from home the following evening, with the GB man notching 9+3 in a powerful line-up which also features Janowski and Jason Doyle.
In the Final they will face league leaders Smederna, who lost narrowly 46-44 at Rospiggarna but turned it around with a 48-41 home victory, with Kacper Woryna starring in both meetings.
This weekend also sees the remaining play-off Finals in the Polish League, where promotion to the Ekstraliga will be resolved.
That is very much in the hands of Ostrow, who travel to Krosno on Sunday holding a massive 60-30 advantage from the first leg, and it would be a monumental shock if the home side could complete a comeback of that scale.
Meanwhile in Division Two Opole have to turn around a 52-38 deficit if they are to beat Landshut to promotion into the second tier.