The Polish Ekstraliga season is underway with all four scheduled Round 1 meetings taking place, and all delivered plenty of drama.

Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning Photography

Last year’s runners-up Wroclaw were first to race, where they took on promoted Zielona Gora and were given a surprisingly tough meeting before Dan Bewley was involved in the heat which finally clinched victory.

The visitors kept the margin to within four points and they could have snatched a shock victory had it not been for a series of exclusions for the Pawlicki brothers.

Both Przemyslaw and Piotr were ruled out twice, the former being excluded from Heat 14 at a crucial stage of the meeting, although Piotr took victory on his old home track to set up a last-heat decider.

Zielona Gora needed a 5-1 to snatch a draw but Laguta and Bewley wrapped things up with a 4-2 over Jarek Hampel and Rasmus Jensen to secure a win by the unusual 47-41 scoreline.

Bewley made a solid start to the season with ten points from five rides as back-up to Laguta with 14, but it was a tougher meeting for both Tai Woffinden (4+1) and Maciej Janowski (4), whilst veteran Hampel top-scored for Zielona Gora with 12.

Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning Photography

Robert Lambert was in strong form for Torun, and although his 14-point haul wasn’t enough to prevent a 51-39 defeat at Gorzow he will be pleased with his four race wins at the start of the season.

Lambert, Emil Sayfutdinov (12) and Patryk Dudek (10) all took six rides as the visitors had to make do without Wiktor Lampart following a midweek crash – which led to a call-up for Anders Rowe, who took one ride in the main body of the team without scoring.

A solid home side were led by Martin Vaculik with 10 points, whilst Anders Thomsen returned from his season-ending injuries of 2023 with 5+1.

Elsewhere, Bartosz Zmarzlik made an ominous start to the season with a 14+1 paid maximum as defending champions Lublin were 52-38 winners at Grudziadz.

Zmarzlik was backed up by GP new boy Dominik Kubera with 11+1 and the visitors could afford bike trouble for Jack Holder as they cruised to victory, whilst Max Fricke led the way for GKM with 12.

Highest individual score of the weekend came from Czestochowa’s Leon Madsen, who racked up 16 from six rides with several overtaking moves, although it was in an ultimately losing cause as his side were beaten 47-43 at Leszno.

Janusz Kolodziej scored 13 for the hosts with Andzejs Lebedevs on 11, but Kolodziej is still troubled by his pre-season injury and is set to sit out Round 2 this weekend.

In Ekstraliga 2, Rzeszow got off to a flyer with a 54-36 win over Lodz, with Jacob Thorssell scoring 14 from five rides and Nicki Pedersen made an impressive debut with 13+1. Oliver Berntzon top-scored for the visitors with 10+1.

There were two away wins, with Rybnik successful at Poznan as they came away with a 48-42 victory, Brady Kurtz keeping up his strong start to the season with 13, whilst Rohan Tungate impressed with 10+2. Ryan Douglas led the hosts’ scoring on 10.

Krosno were also victorious on the road in their first match back at this level after relegation, as they won 47-43 at Gdansk who fought back from ten points down but were unable to get on terms.

Vaclav Milik, despite his current struggles in the UK, top-scored for Krosno with 11+2, whilst Nicolai Klindt – released this week by Oxford in the Premiership – collected 13+1 for the hosts, and Tom Brennan contributed six from four rides.

Elsewhere there was a comfortable 51-39 win for Bydgoszcz at home to Ostrow, with Andreas Lyager (12) and Kai Huckenbeck (11+1) topping the scorechart.

Chris Holder scored 12 on his debut for Ostrow but their hopes took a major hit when Gleb Chugunov suffered a dislocated shoulder in a Heat 3 crash.