Rampant Wroclaw crush Rybnik; Vaculik maximum inspires Gora; Track safety curtails GKM Grudziadz; Czestochowa rained off
Ekstraliga Round-Up (Week 7)
In the week during which it was announced that professional speedway will not take place in Britain this year, Kings Lynn star Robert Lambert jumped to the top of the standings in the race to become European Champion. After Leon Madsen raced into a six-point lead, Lambert dropped just one points at Gniezno, winning the final ahead of Timo Lahti. He now has his title prospects in his his own hands, which would guarantee his place in the 2021 Grand Prix series.
Elsewhere in Poland, we saw the resumption of Ekstraliga racing for six of the league’s teams, following a positive Coronavirus test two weeks ago and Stal Gorzow’s stadium still not repaired from the electrical fire that started during their fixture with Czestochowa. Here’s how week seven returned us to regular service…
Sparta Wroclaw 63-27 ROW Rybnik (24.7.20)
|A. Lebedevs||Rider Replacement|
Slightly delayed by rain in the build-up the meeting, the late evening sun eventually shone on Sparta Wroclaw who recorded a huge 63-27 victory over a woeful ROW Rybnik, lifting them up to third in the league table.
A single change for the hosts saw youth rider Michal Curzytek come in for Przemyslaw Liszka. Troy Batchelor made a return to the Rybnik side in place of Sergey Logachev, having been left out for the majority of the season. His only outing came at GKM Grudziadz in week two, in which he only sat one ride. The visitors continued to run a Rider Replacement for Andzejs Lebedevs, who is expected to remain out for a few more weeks with his broken ankle.
In an unusual first heat, it seemed that the referee didn’t know if Maciej Janowski (11+1) or Kacper Woryna touched the tapes first, or even if the latter of them even did so. After a long, long delay, Janowski (3+1) was excluded from the race, while Woryna simply received a warning.
Vaclav Milik (3) had an unhappy return to his former club; the Czech pulling out of heat three with a mechanical failure. Those that remained put on a real show as home pairing Tai Woffinden and Max Fricke (6+2) took turns to attack Adrian Miedzinski who rode brilliantly in defending his lead but was pipped by three-time world champion Woffinden on the line.
Having conceded SEVEN consecutive heat advantages, including five maximums, Rybnik finally got a race win to their name in heat eight. In a battle of the brits, Robert Lambert got the better of Tai Woffinden on the inside run to the first corner and smartly escaped his international captain on his way to doubling his tally for the evening. The pair would face off again in heat 13, where Lambert would again get the better of Woffinden, cutting across from the outside and clamping down both home riders on the first corner before accelerating away into the sunset.
A final heat 5-1, their eighth of the night, set the seal on the biggest win in the Ekstraliga season; Woffinden led from gate to tapes ahead of Maksym Drabik (14+1), who was unbeaten to that point but will no doubt be overjoyed at a paid maximum.
Sparta Wroclaw were not faced with a lot of opposition on Friday night, but they can only beat what’s in front of them. They were faster out of the gate, rode more intelligently and on the rare occasion they needed to overtake, they did so. The result was officially in the books after heat ten, but this was realistically over a long time before that.
Having been promoted from the second tier last season, ROW Rybnik are beginning to look like a side destined for an immediate return. Their return fixture against Stal Gorzow could be vital if they’re going to prove the doubters wrong.
|Heat 1||(Re-run) Drabik, Lambert, Chuganov, Woryna||60.61s||(4-2)|
|Heat 2||Curzytek, Chuganov, Nowacki, Tudziez||61.38s||(9-3)|
|Heat 3||Woffinden, Miedzinski, Fricke, Milik (dnf)||61.19s||(13-5)|
|Heat 4||Holder, Curzytek, Batchelor, Tudziez||60.93s||(18-6)|
|Heat 5||Drabik, Fricke, Lambert, Batchelor||60.81s||(23-7)|
|Heat 6||Woffinden, Chuganov, Woryna, Miedzinski||60.52s||(28-8)|
|Heat 7||Holder, Janowski, Milik, Nowacki||60.63s||(33-9)|
|Heat 8||Lambert, Woffinden, Batchelor, Curzytek||60.60s||(35-13)|
|Heat 9||Janowski, Miedzinski, Woryna, Holder||60.93s||(38-16)|
|Heat 10||Drabik, Milik, Fricke, Tudziez||60.48s||(42-18)|
|Heat 11||Janowski, Fricke, Lambert, Woryna||60.98s||(47-19)|
|Heat 12||Drabik, Chuganov, Miedzinski, Nowacki||61.05s||(52-20)|
|Heat 13||Lambert, Woffinden, Holder, Milik||60.71s||(55-23)|
|Heat 14||Janowski, Lambert, Woryna, Chuganov||61.05s||(58-26)|
|Heat 15||Woffinden, Drabik, Miedzinski, Milik||60.90s||(63-27)|
Zielona Gora 52-38 Motor Lublin (24.7.20)
|M. Jepsen Jensen||2*||2||0||2||0||6||1|
Maximum man Martin Vaculik was the star as another consistent team performance saw Zielona Gora take a comfortable 52-38 victory over in-form Motor Lublin. The win stretched Gora’s unbeaten run to four matches, while halting Lublin’s string of three straight wins.
Sparta Wroclaw’s victory meant 4th placed Zielona Gora hosted 2nd placed Motor Lublin in the latter of Friday night’s meetings, just a single point separating them in the table. Both sides came into this week’s fixture unchanged from last time out and with each squad adorned with established, top-quality riders, it promised to be a meeting of fine margins.
But the home side were eager to get themselves back into the top two and came out of the blocks hard. In early stages with minimal passing manoeuvres, two maximums in the first four heats helped them to a ten-point lead.
Despite failing to score in his first ride, Matej Zagar (11) was providing the most resistance to the Zielona Gora dominance, but was lacking in support from his teammates. In-form Grigorij Laguta, Hampel and Michelsen all struggled in their early rides, while the home side continued to pile up points by getting race wins and avoiding last place.
Having allowed the lead to stretch to 14 points, Motor Lublin finally began to ride as a team, forcing shared heats and gaining bonus points in doing so. But they were simply unable to get a race winner through the middle part of the meeting and as a result, the result became more of a forgone conclusion.
When Maciej Kuciapa’s side finally got their first heat advantage in heat 11, they’d already rued such a slow start and the misery was compounded two races later when Martin Vaculik took his fourth straight win of the night ahead of teammate Patryk Dudek (10+2) to put the result beyond any lingering doubt.
Any time a side has three riders scoring in double figures – Piotr Protasiewicz also chipped in with 10+1 – the chances are they’re going to win the meeting, but it’s the steady accumulation of points after race advantages that made this performance so impressive. Just four last places ran, Gora look good to give Unia Leszno a good test on Tuesday night.
As for Lublin, they remained competitive but only after they’d given away such a lead with a lacklustre early showing, it would have taken a miraculous second-half recovery to get anything from the meeting. Two late wins for Grigorij Laguta (9) was too little, too late but the biggest disappointment for the visitors was Jaroslaw Hampel. Twice at the back from his three rides, the stalwart will feel as if he’s let his side down. They must bounce back quickly with a tough tie at home to Sparta Wroclaw next time out.
|Heat 1||(Re-Run) Protasiewicz, Lindbaeck, Miesiac, Zagar||61.15s||(5-1)|
|Heat 2||Trofymov, Krakowiak, Pawliczak, Lampart (dnf)||61.14s||(8-4)|
|Heat 3||Dudek, Jepsen Jensen, Michelsen, Laguta||59.58s||(13-5)|
|Heat 4||Vaculik, Hampel, Tonder, Lampart||59.69s||(17-7)|
|Heat 5||Zagar, Jepsen Jensen, Protasiewicz, Hampel||60.25s||(20-10)|
|Heat 6||Dudek, Laguta, Krakowiak, Miesiac||59.44s||(24-12)|
|Heat 7||Vaculik, Michelsen, Lindbaeck, Trofymov||59.23s||(28-14)|
|Heat 8||Zagar, Pawliczak, Dudek, Hampel||60.43s||(31-17)|
|Heat 9||Vaculik, Zagar, Laguta, Lindbaeck||59.67s||(34-20)|
|Heat 10||Protasiewicz, Michelsen, Lampart, Jepsen Jensen||59.74s||(37-23)|
|Heat 11||Miesiac, Jepsen Jensen, Michelsen, Lindbaeck||60.31s||(39-27)|
|Heat 12||Laguta, Protasiewicz, Krakowiak, Trofymov||59.61s||(42-30)|
|Heat 13||Vaculik, Dudek, Zagar, Michelsen||59.60s||(47-31)|
|Heat 14||Laguta, Miesiac, Dudek, Jepsen Jensen||60.66s||(48-36)|
|Heat 15||Vaculik, Zagar, Protasiewicz, Michelsen||59.95s||(52-38)|
GKM Grudziadz 29-25 Stal Gorzow (26.7.20)
(Abandoned after 9 heats – Result Stands)
Stal Gorzow’s winless run continues as concerns over track safety forces referee Remigiusz Substyk to abandon the meeting at GKM Grudziadz after heat nine, with the 29-25 scoreline standing as the official result.
Having stolen an initial march on the league’s basement boys, Grudziadz twice let leads slip and were reliant on a final heat (as it turned out) maximum to secure their victory – but this only tells half of the story.
Despite less than two thirds of the meeting taking place, the Grudziadz Stadium track record was broken twice during the course of the evening. First off, the peerless Bartosz Zmarzlik took just 64.96 seconds to complete the four laps of heat four. And then, two races later, Artem Laguta took a further 0.03 seconds off in winning heat six.
It was the next race that trouble began to brew. On the first lap, Nicki Pedersen (8+1) lifted violently on the approach to the third corner, giving Gorzow’s Anders Thomsen no room to racing in and the only way he could go was into the fence. An extremely awkward and very heavy tumble was then compounded further by Thomsen himself being excluded. The Dane was taken to hospital with a suspected concussion.
At this point, it was noticeable that riders were bouncing their way around the corners at either end of the track and in what would become the final heat of the evening, we got the most obvious glimpse yet as to why the meeting would be abandoned. During a run-of-the-mill first corner, Niels-Kristian Iversen’s bike caught the rut on the exit of the second corner, his rear wheel lifting a clattering into the side of Krzysztof Buczkowski who could only escape of the back of his bike before hitting the airfence himself. The bike was duly catapulted into the air in spectacular fashion and it was quite remarkable that the Pole was able able to take his place in the re-run.
Pedersen looked back to somewhere near his best for Grudziadz; his paid maximum from his three rides paved the way for the home side’s success. But it was his comments after heat nine, which he had just won, that stood out above all else. Speaking to Polish television, he called out the referee to halt the meeting, saying, “If you want to see a bigger crash today, then continue.”
Referee Substyk was forced to call the meeting to a halt after Gorzow junior rider Rafal Karczmarz was the latest to suffer a big crash as a result of the deteriorating track, one that had track staff immediately calling for additional medical treatment.
So the result stands and a win for Grudziadz, albeit not one they will speak of with any great fondness. As for Gorzow, they will be disappointed as they proved up to that point, they were capable of at least getting on terms and with the way Bartosz Zmarzlik was riding, their first win could have come from it.
It later emerged after the meeting that Remigiusz Substyk will not referee in the Ekstraliga again this season.
|Heat 1||Bjerre, Pedersen, Holder, Kasprzak||65.52s||(5-1)|
|Heat 2||Karczmarz, Turowski, Lotarski, Jasinski||65.89s||(8-4)|
|Heat 3||Thomsen, Laguta, Pawlicki, Iversen||65.10s||(11-7)|
|Heat 4||Zmarzlik, Buczkowski, Karczmarz, Lotarski||64.96s||(13-11)|
|Heat 5||Zmarzlik, Bjerre, Holder, Pawlicki||65.93s||(15-15)|
|Heat 6||Laguta, Kasprzak, Iversen, Turowski||64.93s||(18-18)|
|Heat 7||(Re-run) Pedersen, Buczkowski, Jasinski, Thomsen (exc.)||66.67s||(23-19)|
|Heat 8||Zmarzlik, Holder, Laguta, Lotarski||64.94s||(24-24)|
|Heat 9||(Re-run) Pedersen, Buczkowski, Kasprzak, Iversen (exc.)||68.27s||(29-25)|
Czestochowa P-P Unia Leszno
In what should have been the highlight fixture of the week, and indeed the season, mother nature intervened to an extent that could not be remedied by track staff. Persistent rain meant the meeting was called off and at the time of writing, no date has been set for a re-run.
Note – BP= Bonus Points, scored when following a team-mate over the finish line (Cannot be scored if finishing last in the race.)
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