EUROPEAN REVIEW: Ekstraliga
Great Britain’s top three riders were all involved in a terrific Ekstraliga clash at Torun on Sunday to wrap up the regular league campaign.
Image courtesy of Steve Hone Photography
Robert Lambert played a decisive role in rescuing a 45-45 draw against Wroclaw, which meant the home side finished fourth in the table just ahead of the visitors.
Wroclaw led by six points with two heats remaining, with Lambert racing in both of the nominated races.
First he teamed up with Patryk Dudek for a 5-1 which cut the gap to two points, and in the decider Lambert finished just ahead of Tai Woffinden, with Pawel Przedpelski supplying third place ahead of Maciej Janowski.
Lambert raced to a magnificent 16+1 from seven rides, with Przedpelski and Dudek both also in double figures. For Wroclaw, Woffinden returned from injury with 14 from six, winning his first three outings, whilst Dan Bewley notched ten points, also from six rides.
That deciding race, and the result of the meeting, was also significant in terms of who meets who in the play-offs.
Torun will now take on third-placed Gorzow, with Wroclaw having on paper a more difficult test against in-form Czestochowa.
Gorzow were beaten 59-31 by league leaders Lublin, who competed their regular campaign with a record of 12 wins, one draw and just one defeat, making them firm favourites for the play-offs.
Czestochowa, meanwhile, underlined their current form with a 50-40 win at Leszno, who finish sixth and must now face Lublin the play-offs.
The basement battle between Grudziadz and Ostrow proved to be a tight encounter which the home side won 47-43 having been taken to a last-heat decider before Ostrow’s Oliver Berntzon was excluded.
Grudziadz complete the season on 12 points, just outside the play-offs, whilst Ostrow return to Division One in 2023 after suffering 14 defeats out of 14 in the top flight – matching their own unwanted record of 1989.
In the Division One play-offs, league leaders Bydgoszcz held Gdansk to a 46-43 victory from their home leg, and may well have won the meeting but for youngster Wiktor Przyjemski being forced out due to injury.
Zielona Gora face a tougher test as they lost 50-40 in Lodz in a meeting delayed by over six hours due to rain, whilst Krosno already have one foot in the semi-finals after a 50-40 win at Landshut, who were without the injured Erik Riss.
In Division Two, a feisty first leg between Rawicz and Poznan saw the visitors collect a 49-41 victory, with Tom Brennan scoring 4+1 from four rides for the hosts.
Elsewhere at the weekend, Dan Bewley made a strong return to the Speedway Euro Championship after missing the first round of the series due to injury.
Bewley scored 11 points from five rides in an entertaining meeting in Gustrow, which took him into the semi-final as Janusz Kolodziej and Leon Madsen went straight to the Final.
Bewley and Patryk Dudek came through the semi, knocking out Mikkel Michelsen and David Bellego, before Kolodziej won a very competitive Final ahead of Dudek and Bewley, with Madsen missing out on the rostrum.
Bewley took third place on the night and 12 points overall, which vaults him right into contention to reach the top five which would mean qualification for next season. With two rounds to go at Lodz and Pardubice, he is only six points behind fifth-placed Bartosz Smektala.
Kolodziej now leads what appears to be a four-way fight for the SEC crown on 29 points with Dudek on 26 and Madsen and Michelsen both on 25. Adam Ellis scored three points on the night, with third places in each of his final three rides.