EUROPEAN PREVIEW - SGP Vojens
Bartosz Zmarzlik could clinch his fourth World title in Saturday’s ninth round of the Grand Prix series in Vojens.
Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning Photography
Zmarzlik heads into the Danish GP with a 24-point lead over Fredrik Lindgren, meaning a win or a second place will guarantee him the title. He would also guarantee the crown by finishing within three points of whatever Lindgren scores on the night, with a total of eight points required to mathematically put Martin Vaculik out of the title fight.
The race for the bronze medal is arguably the closest with Vaculik on 105 points, eight ahead of Jack Holder, and they are followed by Jason Doyle on 87, Dan Bewley on 86 and Robert Lambert on 83 who could all move into contention with a major points haul.
Bewley and Lambert are also either side of the top-six cut-off, and Lambert has an eight-point margin over Leon Madsen who is in eighth place.
Lambert has fond memories of last year’s GP at Vojens where he finished in a joint career-best second place as Zmarzlik took the win, whilst Bewley scored seven points in his first Danish GP appearance in 2022.
The Wild Card for the event is Rasmus Jensen, whilst the injury absences of Tai Woffinden, Maciej Janowski and Anders Thomsen mean call-ups for Andzejs Lebedevs, Jan Kvech and Kai Huckenbeck.
This weekend will also see the crowning of the SGP2 Champion, which should see Poland’s Mateusz Cierniak retain the crown as he takes a 10-point lead into Friday’s third and final round, with Keynan Rew currently in second place, level on points with Bartlomiej Kowalski.
Following the Grand Prix, attention switches to the PGE Ekstraliga Grand Final between defending champions Lublin and Wroclaw – and circumstances have dictated that the holders are now strong favourites for the title.
Wroclaw topped the regular league table and were unbeaten until their final two matches, whilst way back in early April they were 46-44 winners in Lublin.
But in recent weeks they have been struck by an astonishing injury jinx, with Woffinden and Janowski both ruled out – and even Woffinden’s replacement Charles Wright is now also sidelined after his horrific crash in the win over Leszno last week.
That has led to a dream senior call-up for British Under-21 Champion Connor Bailey who will make his debut in the biggest club fixture in World speedway, whilst Wroclaw will clearly look to Bewley, Artem Laguta and Piotr Pawlicki to keep them in touch with a full-strength home side led by Zmarzlik and fellow GP stars Holder and Lindgren.
Sunday also sees the third place play-off also take place with Torun hosting Czestochowa and the home side still regretting their missed opportunity in the semi-finals.
The last meeting between the clubs at the Marian Rose Motoarena was a close one with the visitors taking a 46-44 victory, and Lambert will be keen to end his league campaign on a high over the next couple of weeks.
The line-up for the Division One Grand Final will be decided on Sunday with title favourites Zielona Gora bringing a 47-42 lead over Ostrow back home for their second leg.
The other semi-final looks more evenly poised with Bydgoszcz racing at home to Rybnik, with the visitors 49-41 up heading into the meeting.
Meanwhile in Division Two, the second legs of the semi-finals commence on Saturday with Adam Ellis lining up for Opole as they bid to hit back from a 46-44 home defeat when they visit Gniezno.
The other semi-final takes place on Sunday with Rzeszow strong favourites to progress as they lead Tarnow 51-38 heading into their home fixture.
Elsewhere this week, Gorzow were crowned U24 Esktraliga champions, defeating Krosno by just one point on aggregate although the hosts did finish with a 5-1 in the second leg to win 49-41 on the night.
Piotr Swiercz scored a 14+1 paid maximum for Krosno with Marko Levishyn adding 14 from five rides. Oskar Paluch was key to Gorzow’s aggregate success with 16 from six rides at reserve.
In Sweden, Vastervik overcame the absence of Woffinden to qualify for the Bauhaus-Ligan Final with a 46-44 win at Rospiggarna.
They were already 16 points up from the home leg and comfortably made it through with Jacob Thorssell (13+1), Lindgren (13) and Bartosz Smektala (10+1) leading the way, whilst Kim Nilsson racked up a superb 17 from six rides for the hosts.
Meanwhile Dackarna completed their own progression to the Final with a 51-39 win over Lejonen, having won the away leg by eight points last week.
Lebedevs (12+2), Rasmus Jensen (12+1) and Brady Kurtz (11+3) were all in double figures for the Malilla side, with Bewley adding nine from five rides, whilst Zmarzlik top-scored for the visitors with 11+1.
Meanwhile one other major event this weekend is the sixth and final round of the FIM Long Track World Championship where Great Britain’s Chris Harris leads Martin Smolinski by one point heading to the German’s home event in Muhldorf.
Effectively whichever rider finishes the higher in the meeting will be crowned champion, whilst Zach Wajtknecht currently leads the race for third place ahead of Sunday afternoon’s finale.