SEC Round Two & Ekstraliga Round Five Preview

Great Britain’s Robert Lambert remains firmly in contention for the Speedway Euro Championship after two of five rounds.

Image courtesy of Darren Bott

Lambert relinquished the leader’s race-jacket to Leon Madsen at the end of Wednesday’s thrilling event in Bydgoszcz, but is only two points behind the Dane as the series moves on to Gniezno next week.

It was the perfect start to the meeting for Lambert with wins in his opening two rides, but in Heat 9 he had to work hard to rescue second place at the expense of Kacper Woryna as Madsen raced clear up-front. Lambert added a further two points in Heat 13 as Russian racer Andrej Kudryashov upstaged two title contenders, with Nicki Pedersen being relegated to third place, but Heat 17 was a setback as Lambert registered his first last place of the series.

That left him in the last chance heat, and it turned out to be a classic race with Madsen pulling clear but Lambert batting with Pedersen and Mikkel Michelsen for the other place in the Final. Michelsen pulled off a stunning move on the last lap, although as he went around Pedersen off the final bend it looked like the battling Danes could just leave Lambert the space he needed on the inside – but it was Michelsen who fractionally won the race to the line.

Madsen then took control of the Final to move into the overall series lead, with Michelsen and Grigory Laguta completing the rostrum places on the night. It means Madsen has 26 points overall and Lambert and Pedersen are both on 24, with reigning champion Michelsen on 23 as a close-fought series approaches the halfway stage.

Lambert returns to Ekstraliga action on Friday as Rybnik face the toughest possible test at home to unbeaten leaders Leszno. The reigning champions have won all four of their matches so far and completed the double when the teams last met in 2017, coming from eight points down to take the away match 46-44 thanks to a last-heat win for Emil Sayfutdinov.

Lambert will line up in what appears to be his customary No.8 position, with the hosts again operating rider-replacement for Andzejs Lebedevs. And that means Lambert is likely to come straight into a Heat 1 clash with Sayfutdinov and Bartosz Smektala, who were both also involved in Wednesday’s SEC event.

Friday’s second meeting sees Tai Woffinden lead Wroclaw into action against Grudziadz with the hosts desperately needing a win. It’s a fixture which has always gone Wroclaw’s way ever since Grudziadz were promoted to the Ektraliga five years ago, and indeed in 2018 their 61-29 victory was the biggest home win recorded by any top-flight side in that season.

Chris Holder is expected to make his home debut for Wroclaw, although the Australian has not been declared in their initial line-up. And after last week’s battles between Woffinden and Martin Vaculik in the drawn fixture with Zielona Gora, his clashes with Artem Laguta and Nicki Pedersen also offer an intriguing prospect.

Elsewhere this weekend, Gorzow are still looking to get off the mark as they head to Zielona Gora in a local derby, whilst Czestochowa have a 100 per cent record from three matches as they prepare to face Lublin, with both of those meetings taking place on Sunday.