EUROPEAN PREVIEW - SGP Torun / Euro Pairs Final
Torun is the setting for the final round of the 2023 Grand Prix series this weekend with the FIM World Championship coming down to a straight fight between Bartosz Zmarzlik and Fredrik Lindgren. Following Zmarzlik’s controversial exclusion from the Danish GP, Lindgren finished second in the meeting to reduce the Pole’s lead to six points with one round remaining.
Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography
It means Zmarzlik needs a rostrum finish on Saturday to guarantee the title, or simply to finish within five points of Lindgren’s total on the night.
The battle for third place is effectively between Martin Vaculik and Jack Holder who are tied on 113 points, whilst GB duo Dan Bewley (98) and Robert Lambert (97) are mathematically in contention – although their biggest priority will be to fend off Leon Madsen (95) in the race for the top six and automatic qualification for next year.
The only other rider mathematically in contention for the top six is Jason Doyle on 88, who lost ground when he crashed out at Vojens, whilst Tai Woffinden is likely to finish 11th or 12th in the series as he misses the meeting due to injury and is likely to be overhauled by Patryk Dudek as well as possibly Mikkel Michelsen.
Zmarzlik has twice won GPs at Torun in the past, whilst Lindgren has only ever made one Final in his 13 GP appearances at the venue – that coming when he finished fourth in 2020.
Bewley has made seven Semi-Finals but just one Final this season – when he won at Malilla – and he also made the Semis at Torun last year.
Meanwhile Lambert will be on home territory as Torun is his Ekstraliga club, and he has twice reached Semi-Finals at the venue in the past.
Then Sunday sees the final GB team event of the season as they compete in the European Pairs Final at Opole.
Having qualified from Finland in July, GB will be represented by Tom Brennan, Adam Ellis and Jordan Jenkins (subject to a late fitness test) with Ellis racing on his home Polish track.
There are several strong combinations including the hosts with Przemyslaw Pawlicki, Szymon Wozniak and SGP2 winner Mateusz Cierniak, whilst Denmark are represented by Rasmus Jensen and Mads Hansen.
The line-up also includes Latvia with Andzejs Lebedevs, Finland with recent Czech Golden Helmet winner Timo Lahti, Italy with GP Challenge qualifiers Paco Castagna and Nico Covatti, and Slovenia.
With Lublin confirmed as PGE Ekstraliga Champions, the first leg of the Division One Play-Off Final takes place on Friday, with either Rybnik or Zielona Gora set to replace Krosno in the top league next season.
Zielona Gora are huge favourites, not just because of their performances throughout the season but also because Rybnik have been heavily affected by injuries, with Jan Kvech now joining Patrick Hansen on the sidelines.
The sides meet at the Municipal Stadium on Friday with the second leg at Zielona Gora on Sunday October 8.
Meanwhile the Division Two Final is expected to provide a closer contest with Gniezno hosting Rzeszow on Saturday afternoon, although Anders Rowe is unavailable for selection for the visitors following his crash at Scunthorpe last week.
Dackarna have been crowned Swedish Bauhaus-Ligan Champions for the seventh time in their history after a 46-44 home win over Vastervik.
The Malilla side had won the away leg of the Final 47-43, and they defended their advantage in a nervous decider at the G&B Arena which saw them lead by just two overall with three races remaining.
But a 5-1 from Madsen and Jensen over Michelsen and Hansen in Heat 14 sealed the title for the hosts, with Bewley scoring 6+2 from four rides including paid wins in his opening two rides.