Exciting Ekstraliga Action Continues, the Polish Speedway League Remaining a Hotbed for Talent
A fascinating beginning to the Ekstraliga campaign continued this week. Many personal and team records were put on the line; Leon Madsen and Emil Sayfutdinov had not yet finished a heat outside the top two and Artem Laguta is unbeaten by anyone in his opening 11 races of the season. Here’s what happened in week three…
Unia Leszno 53-37 Motor Lubin (27.6.20)
Unia Leszno maintained their 100% start to the campaign with a 16-point victory over a Motor Lubin side that were too reliant on their middle order to produce for them.
Despite being one of just two unbeaten sides in the Ekstraliga coming into the week, Leszno still sought to strengthen; young Australian Jaimon Lidsey coming into the side to replace the deeply out-of-form Brady Kurtz.
The 21 year-old, named this week as a participant in the altered-format Under-21 World Championship, grasped his opportunity with both hands. He won his first two races on his way to a useful nine points, showing during the second of which a huge confidence and tenacity to commit to the inside run for over a lap to get past Grigorij Laguta.
Inevitably, Leszno were ably led by Emil Sayfutdinov who was beaten by an opponent on just one occasion in his five rides on his way to 13+1. He was well partned by Piotr Pawlicki who, despite running a last place in heat 13, chipped in with 11+1 of his own. Eight points from promising junior Dominik Kubera ensured he remains one of the highest averaging junior in the Ekstraliga. He is one of the favourites for the aforementioned World U21 Championship.
In a meeting where passing was at a premium, it took until heat 15 for any sort of real drama. Mikkel Michelsen made the early running but then the Leszno pairing of Pawlicki and Sayfutdinov beautifully rounded the Dane to put themselves in a 5-1 position. Michelsen wouldn’t go down without a fight though and looked to have snatched an extra point on the last lap but the pint-sized Russian let the bike drift wide in the final corner to pick up sufficient grip to ensure the maximum on the line. Where it would be easy to “let it go” due to the result not being in question, it goes to show how hungry this Leszno team is this season.
Facing GKM Grudziadz and ROW Rybnik in the next two meetings, Leszno will fancy their chances at extending their unbeaten run and beginning to gap the rest of the Ekstraliga, and showings such this one against Lubin suggest they could do just that.
As previously suggested, Lubin were far too middle-heavy in their point scoring on Saturday; Grigorij Laguta, Matej Zagar and Mikkel Michelsen accounting for 29 of their 37 points and claiming their only three race victories of the evening. Jaroslaw Hampel’s good start to the Ekstraliga season took a dent as the veteran Pole could only muster four points and a Pawel Miesiac didn’t disturb the scoring at all. The early weeks have shown us that Lubin are very much an all-or-nothing side; hammer or be hammered, if you will. Such inconsistency can only go on for so long if they are to have aspirations of reaching the top half of the table; they will have to begin putting a run of results together before too long and hosting ROW Rybnik on Friday night could be seen as a potential catalyst for their campaign.
Heat 1: Sayfutdinov, Laguta, Kolodziej, Hampel – 61.66s (4-2)
Heat 2: Kubera, Trofymov, Lampart, Szlauderbach – 62.18s (7-5)
Heat 3: Lidsey, Pawlicki, Michelsen, Miesiac – 62.28s (12-6)
Heat 4: Zagar, Smektala, Lampart, Szlauderbach – 61.94s (14-10)
Heat 5: Lidsey, Zagar, Laguta, Kolodziej – 62.50s (17-13)
Heat 6: Pawlicki, Kubera, Hampel, Miesiac – 61.91s (22-14)
Heat 7: Sayfutdinov, Smektala, Michelsen, Trofymov – 61.38s (27-15)
Heat 8: Pawlicki, Zagar, Laguta, Szlauderbach – 62.13s (30-18)
Heat 9: Sayfutdinov, Hampel, Zagar, Smektala – 61.75s (33-21)
Heat 10: Kolodziej, Michelsen, Lidsey, Lampart – 61.93s (37-23)
Heat 11: Zagar, Sayfutdinov, Hampel, Lidsey – 61.69s (39-27)
Heat 12: Kubera, Kolodziej, Laguta, Trofymov – 62.12s (44-28)
Heat 13: Michelsen, Smektala, Laguta, Pawlicki – 62.59s (46-32)
Heat 14: Michelsen, Lidsey, Laguta, Kubera – 61.87s (48-36)
Heat 15: Pawlicki, Sayfutdinov, Michelsen, Zagar – 62.50s (53-37)
Referee: Krzysztof Meyze
Zielona Gora 48-42 GKM Grudziadz (27.6.20)
It took a dramtic final heat maximum from Michael Jepsen Jensen and Patryk Dudek to guarantee Ziolona Gora taking their second victory of the season at the W69 on Saturday night. The meeting would see Artem Laguta’s incredible unbeaten start to the Ekstraliga season finally come to an end.
The mid-table clash between saw the visitors made one alteration to the side that walked all over ROW Rybnik last time out; Denis Zielinski taking Damian Lotarski’s place in the junior positions. A very slick inside half of the track would put extra emphasis on getting away from the tapes quickly; overtaking opportunities after the first lap were at a premium throughout the meeting as most riders were staying mid-track to find the bulk of the grip.
Having been facing a 5-1 against them in the finale, the home duo passed Grudziadz number one Nicki Pedersen and then went either side of Kenneth Bjerre to ensure a six-point victory which, at the time, put them up to third in the league table.
Artem Laguta’s perfect start to the season stretched to 12 consecutive wins after triumphing in heat three but was finally beaten by Martin Vaculik in the re-run of heat seven, following Damien Zielinski’s fall in the initial staging. The Russian would still finish with a double-figure return from his evening’s work – alongside Nicki Pedersen’s 11 – but despite winning eight heats on the night, Grudziadz were too frequently unable to take heat advantages from them to push them towards a victory. Having run a last place in his first ride, Kenneth Bjerre chipped in with a handy nine points but there was nobody to take the meeting by the scruff of the neck for the vistors and will hope for better as they face a tough home meeting with Leszno next time out.
As for the hosts, they can attribute this victory to riding better as team – following in for a bonus point on five occasions to Grudziadz’ two – and having fewer non-scoring rides, recording just five compared to the visitors’ ten. Michael Jepsen Jensen will be delighted to bounce back from a pointless return in week two and Patryk Dudek continued his solid start to the season with 11 points, his highest return of the season so far. But the fact that everyone contributed – all seven home riders had at least one finish in the first two in a heat – will be a pleasing sight for manager Piotr Zyto ahead of their trip to Wroclaw next week.
|M. Jepsen Jensen||1*||2||3||1||3||10||1|
Heat 1: Vaculik, Pedersen, Protasiewicz, Bjerre – 59.96s (4-2)
Heat 2: Turowski, Tonder, Krakowiak, Zielinski (dnf) – 61.00s (7-5)
Heat 3: Laguta, Dudek, Jepsen Jensen, Buczkowski – 59.68s (10-8)
Heat 4: Lindbaeck, Pawlicki, Tonder, Turowski – 60.19s (14-10)
Heat 5: Bjerre, Jepsen Jensen, Pawlicki, Protasiewicz – 60.54s (16-14)
Heat 6: Pedersen, Dudek, Krakowiak, Buczkowski – 62.25s (19-17)
Heat 7 (Re-run): Vaculik, Laguta, Lindbaeck, Zielinski – 61.47s (23-19)
Heat 8: Dudek, Bjerre, Pawlicki, Tonder – 61.64s (26-22)
Heat 9 (Re-run): Pedersen, Lindbaeck, Vaculik, Lakhbaum – 61.78s (29-25)
Heat 10: Jepsen Jensen, Protasiewicz, Laguta, Turowski – 61.29s (34-26)
Heat 11: Pedersen, Pawlicki, Jepsen Jensen, Vaculik (fell) – 61.44s (35-31)
Heat 12: Krakowiak, Buczkowski, Protasiewicz, Zielinski – 61.74s (39-33)
Heat 13: Bjerre, Dudek, Laguta, Lindbaeck – 61.23s (41-37)
Heat 14: Laguta, Vaculik, Pawlicki, Lindbaeck – 60.30s (43-41)
Heat 15: Jepsen Jensen, Dudek, Bjerre, Pedersen (dnf) – 61.64s (48-42)
Referee: Pawel Slupski
ROW Rybnik 46-44 Stal Gorzow (28.6.20)
The basement battle at Rybnik saw the only two teams yet to pick up a point face off against each other and produce arguably the spectacle of the season so far. With the lead changing five times through the course of the evening, it would be a heat 14 maximum that ultimately decide proceedings, Rybnik eventually walking away with a 46-44 victory.
Sergey Logachev came into the Rybnik line-up in place of Troy Batchelor, who withdrew after a single ride last time out. Despite averaging ten points from his outings as team reserve, Brit Robert Lambert found himself in the number eight position once again but due to the strange inclusion in the provisional line-up of Anzeij Lebedevs – who has a broken leg after his crash last time out – Lambert would find himself, once again, in a starring role. British riders haven’t always had many opportunities in the Ekstraliga. Lambert is certainly making the most of his chance.
Wiktor Jasinski replaced fellow teenager Mateusz Bartkowiak in the junior spots for the visitors. On fantastic conditions for overtaking, the level of racing was constantly high right from the start; heat two saw both Gorzow youth riders pass Tudziez on his outside in the last lap-and-a-quarter to turn a shared heat into a 5-1, Rafal Karczmarz overtook Mateusz Szczepaniak on the final corner to rescue a 3-3 and Bartosz Zmarzlik produced a stunning outside to inside double overtake in the space of half a lap to claim his second win of the evening – and this was just in the first half of the meeting.
Anders Thomsen produced arguably the move of the meeting in heat eight as he cut back on the second corner of lap three and got himself past both of the host pairing before the third corner – and when Kacper Woryna looked to have taken the lead back for himself the Dane cut back once again and pipped Woryna in the run to the line.
The drama would continue with bikes being thrown at each other in a true spectacle of the sport; youth rider Kamil Nowacki took his first and only points of the meeting with a race win after his partner was excluded to maintain his side’s lead in heat 12 and in the very next race, Thomsen and Zmarzlik seemed to have given their side the foundation to steal the win when, under no pressure whatsoever, they raced to their latest 5-1 of the season. But after Vaclav Milikfought through the Gorzow pair to follow Lambert in to throw a maximum straight back, it was left to Woryna and in the incoming Logachev to confirm the victory by taking a 3-3 behind the imperious Bartosz Zmarzlik in the finale.
World champion Zmarzlik’s paid maximum for the visitors was a joy to behold; he showed every bit of the form that earned him the crown last year and did not deserve to be on the losing side. Robert Lambert was box office once again for his 13 points, a really entertaining performance from a man with a big future.
Cynics will say this was a meeting of the bottom two in the Ekstraliga and therefore, two bad sides cancelling each other out. But this was far from it. This was a true advert of the sport; hard but fair racing, everybody contributing in one way or another, both teams having a standout rider. Youth riders from both sides taking points. This meeting had it all. Incredible.
Heat 1: Lambert, Thomsen, Milik, Kasprzak – 66.74s (4-2)
Heat 2: Karczmarz, Jasinski, Tudziez, Nowacki – 67.92s (5-7)
Heat 3: Zmarzlik, Logachev, Woryna, Wozniak (dnf) – 66.64s (8-10)
Heat 4: Karczmarz, Szczepaniak, Tudziez, Iversen – 66.86s (11-13)
Heat 5: Lambert, Logachev, Iversen, Thomsen – 67.35s (16-14)
Heat 6: Kasprzak, Woryna, Wozniak, Nowacki – 66.88s (18-18)
Heat 7: Zmarzlik, Milik, Szczepaniak, Jasinski – 66.91s (21-21)
Heat 8: Thomsen, Woryna, Tudziez, Iversen – 68.34s (24-24)
Heat 9: Lambert, Kasprzak, Milik, Wozniak – 67.38s (28-26)
Heat 10: Zmarzlik, Logachev, Lambert, Karczmarz – 68.00s (31-29)
Heat 11: Kasprzak, Milik, Logachev, Karczmarz – 68.34s (34-32)
Heat 12 (Re-run): Nowacki, Wozniak, Jasinski, Woryna (excl.) – 68.84s (37-35)
Heat 13: Thomsen, Zmarzlik, Woryna, Lambert – 67.44s (38-40)
Heat 14: Lambert, Milik, Kasprzak, Wozniak – 67.81s (43-41)
Heat 15: Zmarzlik, Woryna, Logachev, Thomsen – 68.00s (46-44)
Referee: Remigiusz Substyk
Czestochowa 53-37 Sparta Wroclaw (28.6.20)
The final meeting of the weekend was a far more routine affair as far as Czestochowa were concerned; Marek Cieslak’s side dominated Sparta Wroclaw in a 53-37 on home shale. It is the second week running the visitors have lost by this scoreline.
The only meeting to feature two unchanged teams saw unbeaten leaders Czestochowa extend their unbeaten record largely through the seven heat advantages they recorded on the night. The hosts were once again led by Leon Madsen (14+1) who, despite not necessarily having it his own way on the track, fully deserved his paid maximum. He worked overtime in a real back-and-forth battle with talented young Russian Gleb Chuganov to ensure he followed Przedpelski in for a 5-1 in heat 12 and had a healthy battle with Maciej Janowski in the final race of the night.
The man who had successful back surgery earlier in the week showed the class that saw him take the runners-up spot in last year’s world championship. The Dane’s ususal partner in crime Jason Doyle produced a rare performance in which he went straight through the card – with second places. The Australian was unfortunate not to score more than his 10+1 considering he held the lead in the majority of his races but with contributions coming in from all around him, Czestochowa continue to look a strong outfit this season.
As for Wroclaw, the inquest begins in exactly the same place as last time out. Second best in the majority of races again. Three zero scores again. From Max Fricke, Dan Bewley and Prem Liszka. Again. On consecutive occasions now, the visitors have been a team of two halves, looking to experienced campaigners Maciej Janowski (11) and Tai Woffinden for the bulk of their scoring. Were it not for the emergence of Gleb Chaganov (10) as one of their leaders this term, it can be assumed, that Wroclaw would be even worse off than they already are. Maksym drabik looked to be ready to pull a bit of respectability back to proceedings, having taken eight points from his opening four rides but after running last places in his last two, positives were few and far between. Even the fact they had seven race winners is negated by the fact that they ran last place on 12 occasions.
The stats don’t lie; Wroclaw have four riders averaging nine points or more in the opening weeks of this campaign – but no other rider averaging even two. As a consequence, they have suffered back-to-back heavy defeats and without contributions throughout the team, results such as these could end up being a weekly occurrence. Their home meeting with third-placed Zielona Gora could now have a huge effect on the outcome of their Ekstraliga sucess or failure.
Heat 1: Madsen, Drabik, Lindgren, Janowski – 64.42s (4-2)
Heat 2: Miskowiak, Chuganov, Swidnicki, Liszka – 64.84s (8-4)
Heat 3: Przedpelski, Doyle, Woffinden, Fricke – 64.57s (13-5)
Heat 4: Chuganov, Holta, Swidnicki, Bewley – 64.41s (16-8)
Heat 5: Janowski, Przedpelski, Lindgren, Bewley – 64.54s (19-11)
Heat 6: Drabik, Doyle, Miskowiak, Fricke – 64.51s (22-14)
Heat 7: Madsen, Holta, Chuganov, Woffinden – 64.93s (27-15)
Heat 8: Janowski, Doyle, Drabik, Swidnicki – 64.14s (29-19)
Heat 9: Madsen, Drabik, Holta, Janowski – 63.90s (33-21)
Heat 10: Lindgren, Woffinden, Przedpelski, Chuganov – 64.24s (37-23)
Heat 11: Przedpelski, Madsen, Chuganov, Drabik – 64.21s (42-24)
Heat 12: Woffinden, Lindgren, Miskowiak, Liszka – 64.37s (45-27)
Heat 13: Janowski, Doyle, Woffinden, Holta – 64.19s (47-31)
Heat 14: Chuganov, Doyle, Woffinden, Lindgren – 64.45s (49-35)
Heat 15: Madsen, Janowski, Przedpelski, Drabik – 63.84s (53-37)
Referee: Piotr Lis
Ekstraliga League Standings after Week 3
|ELTROX WŁÓKNIARZ Częstochowa||3||3||0||0||60||23||6|
|FOGO UNIA Leszno||3||3||0||0||40||16||6|
|RM SOLAR FALUBAZ Zielona Góra||3||2||0||1||-5||17||4|
|MRGARDEN GKM Grudziądz||3||1||0||2||4||10||2|
|BETARD SPARTA Wrocław||3||1||0||2||-12||12||2|
|PGG ROW Rybnik||3||1||0||2||-41||15||2|
|MOJE BERMUDY STAL Gorzów||3||0||0||3||-26||8||0|
Note – BP= Bonus Points, scored when following a team-mate over the finish line (Cannot be scored if finishing last in the race).
We hope you enjoyed this round-up of the latest Ekstraliga action. Who is your favourite Polish speedway team or rider?
Read more on motorcycle racing here:
5 Liverpool Players who could Leave this Summer
Sports Journalism Internship (3 month placement scheme)
Australian Grand Prix moved as the 2021 F1 calendar is reshuffled
The MK Dawn of the Masters
NFL Wild-Card Weekend: Winners and Losers
This Week in Golf: What We Learnt
Free Agents: Which Player will Move for Free in the Summer?
Delayed NHL season starts this week
Football10 months ago
Players with the most Goals in A Premier League Season
Football5 months ago
Chelsea’s Possible Lineup For Next Season
Football8 months ago
Who is the Fastest Football Player in the World?
Basketball1 month ago
The 5 Biggest NBA trades so far this off-season
Football4 months ago
Spurs’ 2020-21 Potential Starting XI
Football4 months ago
Manchester City Possible Line-Up For Next Season
News9 months ago
The Fastest Rugby Players Ever
FIFA4 months ago
The Fastest Players on FIFA 21