Rybnik thumped by leaders; Records tumble at Wroclaw; Lublin shock Częstochowa; Zielona Gora go second: Ekstraliga Round-Up – Week 5
Speedway in Poland is truly up and running now following the delayed start due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This weekend sees us reach the third-way mark in the regular Ekstraliga season, while the second tier of Polish Speedway got under way and the entire European Championship will be played out on Polish tracks during the course of July.
Wednesday night’s edition saw Leon Madsen climb to the top of the ongoing standings after winning in Bydgoszcz. The Dane dominated the “Last Chance” race and the Final on Wednesday night to take the overall lead from Robert Lambert and Nicki Pedersen.
With still no word on the abandoned Stal Gorzow v Czestochowa fixture, Unia Leszno came into week five with a two-point lead at the top of the table, while Gorzow remain the only side without a league victory this campaign. Here’s how the latest round of meetings unfolded…
ROW Rybnik 34-56 Unia Leszno (10.7.20)
Unia Leszno made it five wins from five as they eased past a poor ROW Rybnik side whose defeat would, once again, have been worse were it not for the exploits of Robert Lambert.
Piotr Baron’s side arrived at the Municipal Stadium full of confidence following their 100% start and the difference in quality between the two teams was tangible throughout. In a meeting where weather conditions meant there had to be extra breaks in the meeting to water the track to control the amount of dust kicked up, it became clear that bike setup and fast gating was going to be extra important to success. A point that clearly didn’t reach Piotr Swiderski’s office.
As mentioned, Brit Lambert (15) starred for the hosts once again as he was the only Rybnik rider to consistently get close to a Leszno frontrunner on a consistent basis. In the opening heat of the evening, he fired himself out of the outside gate across everybody on his inside to clamp Emil Sayfutdinov (12) down on the first corner before going on his merry way to his first three points. The two would duel it out again much later in the meeting where the Russian would have his revenge over Lambert, fending off repeated attempts on his lead which almost saw the young Brit collide with Emil’s back wheel. But the Kings Lynn star would have the final word on the meeting, coming out of the inside gate gun-barrel straight in heat 15 and remained clear of both Sayfutdinov and their other top scorer Bartosz Smektala (12) to ride into the sunset with his third win of the evening.
Adrian Miedzinski, returning in place of Mateusz Szczepaniak, provided the closest thing to support to Lambert, chipping in with 7+1 but the only other home rider to record a race win all evening was Kacper Woryna. The hometown rider, who started the season in terrific form, has struggled in the past couple of outings but he got his wheels in line brilliantly on the opening lap of heat three to propel himself to the front and then streak away to the finish line.
Heat nine would see Miedzinski involved in an unusual moment, one seen extremely rarely in speedway. The Pole slightly jumped the start, but instead of touching the tapes with his wheel, he was caught in them by the visor of his helmet. Fortunate not to have his head whipped back and injured by the incident, he was allowed back into the restart due to the rule stating a rider is only excluded when his wheel touches the tapes. He would ultimately finish last however, following one of the moves of the night when Emil Sayfutdinov dissected both him and Vaclav Milik (3+1) on the back straight and sped off, winning the race by a vast distance.
So it’s the same old problems for Rybnik; no back-up for Robert Lambert and a generally poor looking side. But the same strengths for Leszno; out-and-out winners throughout, youth riders chipping in with points (averaging nearly ten points per meeting between them) and highly able to team ride to protect track positions. Piotr Pawlicki (10+1) recorded his third consecutive double-figure points tally and Jaimon Lidsey bounced back from a poor showing last weekend with a solid 9+1.
Leszno face a tricky tie with Zielona Gora next time out and with Czestochowa to follow, it is potentially a critical fortnight ahead for the leaders as we will get a firmer idea as to their title credentials.
Heat 1: Lambert, Sayfutdinov, Smektala, Milik – 66.52s (3-3)
Heat 2: Szlauderbach, Kubera, Tudziez, Nowacki – 66.57s (4-8)
Heat 3: Woryna, Pawlicki, Logachev, Kolodziej – 67.32s (8-10)
Heat 4: Lidsey, Miedzinski, Kubera, Tudziez – 67.21s (10-14)
Heat 5: Smektala, Lambert, Logachev, Lidsey – 67.13s (13-17)
Heat 6: Sayfutdinov, Kolodziej, Woryna, Nowacki – 67.11s (14-22)
Heat 7: Pawlicki, Miedzinski, Milik, Szlauderbach – 68.06s (17-25)
Heat 8: Smektala, Lidsey, Woryna, Tudziez – 67.44s (18-30)
Heat 9 (Re-run): Sayfutdinov, Milik, Miedzinski, Kolodziej – 67.85s (21-33)
Heat 10: Lambert, Pawlicki, Kubera, Logachev – 67.71s (24-36)
Heat 11: Sayfutdinov, Lambert, Lidsey, Milik – 68.03s (26-40)
Heat 12: Kolodziej, Lambert, Szlauderbach, Nowacki – 67.30s (28-44)
Heat 13: Smektala, Miedzinski, Pawlicki, Woryna – 67.80s (30-48)
Heat 14: Lidsey, Pawlicki, Logachev, Milik – 68.06s (31-53)
Heat 15: Lambert, Smektala, Sayfutdinov, Miedzinski – 67.56s (34-56)
Referee: Michal Sasien
|A. Lebedevs||Rider Replacement|
Sparta Wroclaw 53-37 GKM Grudziądz (10.7.20)
A brilliant 16-point display from Artem Laguta wasn’t enough to prevent Sparta Wroclaw taking their second win of the season in a meeting which saw the track record broken an incredible six times over the course of the night.
The meeting was delayed by an hour due to a huge downpour at the Olympic Stadium, resulting in a film of water on the track which threatened to call a halt to proceedings before it even started. But thanks to some more incredible work by the track staff, the circuit was not only ready for racing, but ready for records to be broken.
Przemyslaw Liszka returned to the side in place of Michal Curzytek while Denis Lotarski was preferred to Marcin Turowski for the visitors in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
The first of 14 races timing under Maksym’s Drabik’s three year-old, 60.99 second track record saw Kenneth Bjerre (11) get the better of Maciej Janowski in the early stages and keep ahead all the way to the chequered flag. Leading youth rider Gleb “The Iceman” Chuganov (9+1) – twice – and the Przemyslaw Pawlicki (5) would take the record for themselves in the next five races, by which time the hosts had opened up a six-point lead.
A middle part of the meeting in which Wroclaw took three heat advantages stretched this to ten points but the action would not subside on the back of the result being all but confirmed. Maksym Drabik (8+1) took his track record back in heat ten but his joy was short-lived as Maciej Janowski (11+1) took nearly another quarter of a second off the time in the very next race.
While the record breaking would stop there, the visitors would make a much better fist of the final stages, only conceding a single 4-2 heat advantage but they weren’t able to lay a hand on a Wroclaw side who would end the meeting with a hugely impressive ten bonus points. While they ran seven race winners on the night Grudziadz’ inability to ride as a team would be their downfall as on only one occasion could a teammate score even a single point.
Their sole heat advantage was immediately nullified in the youth race and on a track which provided the opportunity for such fast racing for all, they were unable to best their opposition at the gate, where it turned out to be vital to be strong if they were to succeed. While the racing was often processional, the entertainment value remained high and both sides will fancy their chances against two of the bottom half sides next weekend.
Heat 1: Bjerre, Janowski, Pedersen, Drabik – 60.78s (TR) (2-4)
Heat 2: Chuganov, Liszka, Lotarski, Zielinski – 60.48s (TR) (7-5)
Heat 3: Laguta, Fricke, Woffinden, Buczkowski – 61.52s (10-8)
Heat 4: Pawlicki, Liszka, Holder, Zielinski – 60.45s (TR) (13-11)
Heat 5: Bjerre, Drabik, Fricke, Pawlicki – 60.57s (16-14)
Heat 6: Chuganov, Woffinden, Buczkowski – Pedersen (dnf) – 60.43s (TR) (21-15)
Heat 7: Laguta, Holder, Janowski, Lotarski – 60.46s (24-18)
Heat 8: Woffinden, Bjerre, Pawlicki, Liszka- 60.53s (27-21)
Heat 9: Janowski, Pedersen, Holder, Buczkowski – 60.47s (31-23)
Heat 10: Drabik, Laguta, Fricke, Zielinski – 60.42s (TR) (35-25)
Heat 11: Janowski, Fricke, Pawlicki, Pedersen (dnf) – 60.20s (TR) (40-26)
Heat 12: Laguta, Drabik, Chuganov, Lotarski – 60.31s (43-29)
Heat 13: Woffinden, Laguta, Holder, Bjerre – 60.63s (47-31)
Heat 14: Bjerre, Chuganov, Drabik, Pawlicki – 60.87s (50-34)
Heat 15: Laguta, Janowski, Woffinden, Bjerre – 60.21s (53-37)
Referee: Remigiusz Substyk
Czestochowa 43-47 Motor Lublin (12.7.20)
Motor Lublin made it back-to-back wins with a shock four-point victory over Czestochowa as Marek Cieslak’s side fell to their first defeat of the season.
Both sides fielded unchanged sides from last weekend’s fixtures, including the top three from the latest round of the European Championship series. New leader Leon Madsen retained his spot at the top of the order while, not to be outdone, Lublin’s line-up also housed two of Wednesday night’s finalists in Grigorij Laguta and Mikkel Michelsen, who battled it out to the line for second and third on the night respectively.
Despite losing the early initiative, Lublin showcased the potential that had been lacking in previous away fixtures in heat three. Grigorij Laguta (13) held off the fierce challenge of Rune Holta as they went down the back straight for the first time; the Russian looked second favourite to reach the bend in front of the pole but kept the bike wound on by fence to take the lead. Holta would then make a mistake on the third lap, allowing Mikkel Michelsen (9) to take the last point and level the scores.
Michelsen was involved in some brilliant action again in heat seven where, having been left behind at the start, he passed an off-colour Jason Doyle on one wheel along the back straight and immediately set after Przedpelski. Despite his best efforts, and getting close on numerous occasions, the in-form Dane wasn’t able to ensure a shared heat as Lublin’s lead was cut to two points. The very next heat saw youth rider Mateusz Swidnicki almost following in Leon Madsen (14) for a surprise 5-1 ahead of Grand Prix rider Matej Zagar but the Slovenian was able to get sufficient grip out of the final bend to pass the youngster on the run to the line.
There was real drama in heat 13 as, while facing the likelihood of a 5-1 reverse and slipping to an eight-point deficit with just two races remaining, Przemyslaw Przedpelski went wide on turn two of the third lap, clipped the air fence and hit the deck. The Pole, who’d had a solid night to that point, was excluded from the race and Leon Madsen streaked away to win the re-run – cue calls of cheating across social media.
The four-point gap looked set to be levelled in heat 14 as Freddie Lindgren (11) and Jason Doyle raced out into a 5-1 scenario but the Australian lifted wildly on the second lap, allowing Michelsen and Zagar (9+2) to pass him with ease and while he got close to a third-place finish, just ran out of laps. And so it was left for Grigorij Laguta to take the plaudits in the final race, in which he was never in much danger from an opposition rider, giving Motor Lublin their first away win of the season.
Heat 1: Lindgren, Zagar, Doyle, Jamrog – 64.96s (4-2)
Heat 2: Swidnicki, Lampart, Trofymov, Kowalski – 65.32 (7-5)
Heat 3: Laguta, Madsen, Michelsen, Holta – 64.89s (9-9)
Heat 4: Hampel, Przedpelski, Swidnicki, Lampart – 64.95s (12-12)
Heat 5: Hampel, Zagar, Holta, Lindgren – 65.68s (13-17)
Heat 6: Madsen, Laguta, Jamrog, Kowalski – 64.49s (16-20)
Heat 7: Przedpelski, Michelsen, Doyle, Trofymov – 64.93s (20-22)
Heat 8: Madsen, Zagar, Swidnicki, Hampel – 64.93s (24-24)
Heat 9: Laguta, Jamrog, Doyle, Przedpelski – 64.80s (25-29)
Heat 10: Michelsen, Lindgren, Lampart, Holta – 64.49s (27-33)
Heat 11: Przedpelski, Hampel, Madsen, Jamrog – 64.83s (31-35)
Heat 12: Lindgren, Laguta, Trofymov, Kowalski – 64.68s (34-38)
Heat 13 (Re-run): Madsen, Zagar, Michelsen, Przedpelski (exc.) – 64.63s (37-41)
Heat 14: Lindgren, Michelsen, Zagar, Doyle – 64.91s (40-44)
Heat 15: Laguta, Madsen, Przedpelski, Hampel – 64.49s (43-47)
Referee: Krzystof Meyze
Zielona Gora 50-40 Stal Gorzow (12.7.20)
Zielona Gora took full advantage of Czestochowa’s home defeat and climbed to second in the Ekstraliga table with a comfortable 50-40 win over a marginally improved Stal Gorzow.
The home side remained with the same eight in the squad as they’ve used all season but bottom-placed Gorzow saw Niels-Kristian Iversen take the place of Krzystof Kasprzak in the team and Jack Holder rotated up to number one in the order.
A proverbial meeting of two halves began, as has been too often the case for Gorzow, with a terrible opening period for Stanislaw Chomski’s side. Three maximums in the first five races saw Zielona Gora race to a 14-point lead which would ultimately prove insurmountable. This will be very frustrating for manager Chomski as the stats actually show that after heat five, Gorzow actually won the meeting 32-28. If they were more competitive in the early heats, they could have found themselves off the bottom of the table by now.
Martin Vaculik (12) once again showed his capabilities, winning four of his five rides and veteran Piotr Protasiewicz continued his consistent start to the season with 10+2 of his own. Patryk Dudek was also very steady for his third nine-point haul of the campaign (+1) and his only real disappointment came as he ran a last place in heat 15.
It would be easy to think that the margin of victory should have been larger given how the early stages transpired for the visitors, but this is actually a positive for Gorzow. In Jack Holder (13+1), it appears as if Stal finally have a suitable backup for world Champion Bartosz Zmarzlik (12) and with Niels-Kristian Iversen (7+1) showing signs of resurrection following his injury lay-off, the shoots of recovery could be beginning to appear. If Anders Thomsen’s dip in form can be quickly rectified and Chomski is able to keep a settled seven for selection, there’s no reason they can’t begin to get results, starting at a struggling GKM Grudziadz on Sunday.
Heat 1: Protasiewicz, Lindbaeck, Holder, Thomsen – 60.82s (5-1)
Heat 2: Pawliczak, Krakowiak, Karczmarz, Jasinski – 60.72s (10-2)
Heat 3: Dudek, Iversen, Jepsen Jensen, Zmarzlik – 60.35s (14-4)
Heat 4: Vaculik, Wozniak, Karczmarz, Krakowiak (fell) – 59.94s (17-7)
Heat 5: Jepsen Jensen, Protasiewicz, Wozniak, Thomsen – 60.25s (22-8)
Heat 6: Dudek, Holder, Pawliczak, Iversen – 59.72s (26-10)
Heat 7: Vaculik, Zmarzlik, Lindbaeck, Jasinski – 60.00s (30-12)
Heat 8: Zmarzlik, Krakowiak, Dudek, Wozniak – 59.84s (33-15)
Heat 9: Vaculik, Holder, Iversen, Lindbaeck – 60.19s (36-18)
Heat 10: Zmarzlik, Jepsen Jensen, Protasiewicz, Karczmarz – 59.59s (39-21)
Heat 11: Holder, Wozniak, Lindbaeck, Jepsen Jensen – 60.47s (40-26)
Heat 12: Protasiewicz, Iversen, Pawliczak, Karczmarz – 60.44s (44-28)
Heat 13: Holder, Dudek, Zmarzlik, Vaculik – 60.28s (46-32)
Heat 14: Vaculik, Iversen, Wozniak, Jepsen Jensen – 60.44s (49-35)
Heat 15: Zmarzlik, Holder, Protasiewicz, Dudek – 60.00s (50-40)
Referee: Piotr Lis
|M. Jepsen Jensen||1||3||2||0||0||6|
Standings after Week 5
|FOGO UNIA Leszno||5||5||0||0||68||27||10|
|RM SOLAR FALUBAZ Zielona Góra||5||3||1||1||5||25||7|
|ELTROX WŁÓKNIARZ Częstochowa*||4||3||0||1||56||25||6|
|BETARD SPARTA Wrocław||5||2||1||2||4||27||5|
|MRGARDEN GKM Grudziądz||5||1||0||4||-18||12||2|
|PGG ROW Rybnik||5||1||0||4||-91||22||2|
|MOJE BERMUDY STAL Gorzów*||4||0||0||4||-36||12||0|
|* Does not include result from 3.7.20 – Decision on abandoned meeting still pending|
Note – BP= Bonus Points, scored when following a team-mate over the finish line (Cannot be scored if finishing last in the race)
Week 6 Fixtures
ROW Rybnik v Czestochowa
Motor Lublin v GKM Grudziadz
Unia Leszno v Zielona Gora
Stal Gorzow v Sparta Wroclaw
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