EUROPEAN REVIEW: Speedway Grand Prix
Great Britain will again have two riders in the FIM World Championship Grand Prix series next year.
Image courtesy of Steve Hone
As the rights for the GP pass over to Discovery Sports Events, the 2022 line-up has been confirmed and will feature both Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert.
Woffinden secured his top six finish overall with a rostrum finish in Torun on Friday, where he finished third behind Artem Laguta and Maciej Janowski after winning his first four rides in the qualifying races, and then another strong display on Saturday when he scored nine points from his first five rides before exiting in the first semi-final.
Those results meant the treble World Champion finished sixth in the standings, a comfortable 14 points clear of Leon Madsen who received one of the nominated positions for next year.
Lambert, meanwhile, completed an impressive end to his debut GP campaign with back-to-back semi-final appearances on his home track in the Ekstraliga.
He picked up eight points in the qualifiers on Friday despite an exclusion for a starting offence, before missing out at the hands of Laguta and Madsen in the second semi; whilst on Saturday he hit double-figures from his first four rides but went out against Janowski and Emil Sayfutdinov in the second semi.
Lambert ended the year in a creditable tenth place, well clear of his pursuers, and well worthy of a return ticket for 2022 – a fact clearly noted by the organisers.
All of the seeded places went to riders from the ’21 series, meaning the additions to the field for next year are former World No.2 Patryk Dudek, SEC winner Mikkel Michelsen and newcomer Pawel Przedpelski. They effectively replace the bottom three from this season’s regulars – Matej Zagar, Oliver Berntzon and Krzysztof Kasprzak.
The World title itself went to Artem Laguta who edged out Bartosz Zmarzlik in an exciting finale despite having appeared to be in total control with one round to go.
Zmarzlik’s elimination from Round 10 in the first semi-final opened the door for Laguta to open up a nine-point series lead by winning the Final ahead of Janowski, Woffinden and Madsen.
But Laguta’s run to the title on Saturday wasn’t without nervous moments along the way, especially when he found himself with just three points from his first three rides and staring elimination from the meeting in the face.
However, Laguta quickly hit the front in Heat 13 against Jason Doyle and Lambert, and then gated to victory in Heat 17 to make the semis – and when he won the first semi over Zmarzlik to seal a place in the Final, the title was assured.
Zmarzlik then won the meeting Final over Sayfutdinov and Janowski, and finished second overall, three points behind after a series dominated by the top two, whilst Sayfutdinov’s strong weekend saw him pull well clear of Fredrik Lindgren in the race for bronze, with Janowski finishing level with the Swede.
Meanwhile the World Under-21 crown was taken by Jakub Miskowiak, the Pole winning in Pardubice to finish on top in his battle with Denmark’s Mads Hansen.
Wiktor Lampart finished third overall, whilst Great Britain’s Drew Kemp scored two points at the Czech venue after a last-minute call up to the event.
Next year’s series will be run under the new SGP2 branding with rounds on the same weekends as SGP events at Prague, Cardiff and Torun.
In domestic action, Ostrow are celebrating promotion to the Ekstraliga after completing the formality of their Division One Final win over Krosno.
Having taken the home leg by a massive 60-30 scoreline, they were content to seal their elevation with a 40-49 defeat in the return leg as the home side finished with two 5-1s in the last two races.
Ostrow were promoted with a solid squad which scored down the order and appear set to continue that policy in the top flight with Chris Holder reportedly set to join in a move from Torun.
Meanwhile Landshut are also heading up, in their case into Division One after defending their 14-point first leg lead in Opole.
The home side won 49-40 on the day but it wasn’t enough as the second leg was kept close throughout and Martin Smolinski led the German side to promotion with 13 points.