Unia Leszno, Stal Gorzow blitz the opposition to reach the Final
Ekstraliga Round-Up: Semi-Finals, 2nd Leg
After it emerged this week that Emil Sayfutdinov will lead the Unia Leszno charge for the title in 2021, his side entered the second leg of the play-off semi finals alongside Zielona Gora, Stal Gorzow and Sparta Wroclaw. Elsewhere, it has been suggested that British star Robert Lambert has received hugely lucrative offers from both Zielona Gora and Torun for his services in 2021 The Kings Lynn man is rumoured to have been offered three-year, six-figure deals as reward for a standout season with ROW Rybnik. Elsewhere, it has been announced that Krzysztof Buczkowski has left GKM Grudziadz ahead of the 2021 campaign but Szymon Wozniak will remain at Stal Gorzow next term.
Torun’s promotion back to the top flight was confirmed as they obliterated Unia Tarnow 121-59 in the second-tier’s play-off final; the Holder brothers two of four riders to reach double figures in the second leg.
Across the continent, congratulations go to Anders Thomsen for winning the Danish National Championship ahead of Nicolai Klindt, 16 year-old Marcus Birkemose and Leon Madsen.
With both meetings postponed on Sunday, the track staff at Stal Gorzow were unable to get the surface ready in time for the re-arranged staging on Monday so was postponed again to Sunday October 4th. This meant that by the time Stal Gorzow took to the track, Bartosz Zmarzlik had already cemented his second consecutive World Championship, doing so in style, winning the final round of the season in Torun.
Unia Leszno 57-33 Zielona Gora (Unia Leszno win 103-77 to advance to Final)
Unia Leszno made amends for the home defeat inflicted by Zielona Gora in the regular season as they stormed into the play-off final with a comprehensive 57-33 victory over Piotr Zyto’s side.
Rohan Tungate was drafted in to replace Antonio Lindbaeck at number one for visitors; the Swede has struggled for most of the season and Zyto plumped to give Tungate a shot at the top of the order in an attempt to progress.
A slick track saw the inside line used more frequently for the majority of the opening exchanges and the writing was quickly on the wall for the visitors as, in the opening heat, Bartosz Smektala (12+2) produced a brilliant move to go from fourth to second. The Pole continued on his way, following in Emil Sayfutdinov for an opening maximum, the first of three in the opening five races.
In heat four, having jumped the start but allowed to get away with it, Janusz Kolodziej (8+2) came back at Protasiewicz with a brilliant inside switch to hit the front, before gapping the veteran to take the chequered flag.
Immediately afterwards, newly-crowned World Under-21 Champion Jaimon Lidsey (8+3) went round Jepsen Jensen (7) like he wasn’t there on the fourth bend of lap two to take his second bonus point ride in succession behind Bartosz Smektala.
Heats 11 and 12 saw Zielona Gora at least became spoilers for three home riders’ hopes of a paid maximum on the night.
Smektala, Sayfutdinov (11) and Lidsey were all beaten by Piotr Protasiewicz (who rode his 2600th heat in the Ekstraliga during the meeting) and Martin Vaculik (9+2) as the visitors sought to retain some dignity from the meeting.
In one final show of defiance, maximum man Piotr Pawlicki (12) demonstrated his superior speed to all comers as he launched himself from last to second with a dive up the inside and then into the lead – both past Michael Jepsen Jensen. Janusz Kolodziej then made his way past the Dane to take the final home maximum of the evening.
With the job long since completed, Unia Leszno even saw fit to put both of their junior riders out in the final heat. This almost threatened to pay further dividends as Dominik Kubera made the start but the experienced duo of Protasiewicz (9+1) and Vaculik took a simple 5-1 to end the evening’s proceedings.
A routine victory for the league leaders, then. A powerhouse showing with all of the top five in the points, sending a clear message out that they will be firm favourites to win their fourth consecutive title.
|M. Jepsen Jensen||1||1||2||1||2||7|
|Heat 1||Sayfutdinov, Smektala, Jepsen Jensen||62.93s||(5-1)|
|Heat 2||Kubera, Tonder, Krakowiak, Szlauderbach||63.28s||(8-4)|
|Heat 3||Pawlicki, Lidsey, Vaculik, Dudek||62.44s||(13-5)|
|Heat 4||Kolodziej, Protasiewicz, Szlauderbach, Krakowiak||63.09s||(17-7)|
|Heat 5||Smektala, Lidsey, Jepsen Jensen, Protasiewicz||62.60s||(22-8)|
|Heat 6||Pawlicki, Tungate, Vaculik, Kubera||64.00s||(25-11)|
|Heat 7||Sayfutdinov, Kolodziej, Dudek, Tonder||63.60s||(30-12)|
|Heat 8||Pawlicki, Jepsen Jensen, Protasiewicz, Szlauderbach||62.50s||(33-15)|
|Heat 9||Sayfutdinov, Vaculik, Tungate, Kolodziej||63.69s||(36-18)|
|Heat 10||Lidsey, Smektala, Krakowiak, Dudek||63.69s||(41-19)|
|Heat 11||Protasiewicz, Sayfutdinov, Lidsey, Tungate||63.62s||(44-22)|
|Heat 12||Vaculik, Smektala, Kubera, Tonder,||64.00s||(47-25)|
|Heat 13||Pawlicki, Kolodziej, Jepsen Jensen, Dudek||64.32s||(52-26)|
|Heat 14||Smektala, Jepsen Jensen, Kolodziej, Tungate||65.25s||(56-28)|
|Heat 15||Protasiewicz, Vaculik, Szlauderbach, Kubera||65.06s||(57-33)|
Stal Gorzow 55-34 Sparta Wroclaw (Stal Gorzow win 99-80 to advance to Final)
World Champion Bartosz Zmarzlik celebrated his success with a five-ride maximum as Stal Gorzow strolled into the play-off final with a convincing victory over a depleted Sparta Wroclaw.
The visitors boasted all three riders that reached the podium in round seven of the 2020 Grand Prix series on Friday night – the first time this has happened for any club – but were made to pay the price for a poor second half to the meeting.
Stanislaw Chomski’s men set about chasing down the two-point lead that Wroclaw bought to the Edward Jancarz stadium in swift fashion, levelling the tie in the opening race before taking the lead immediately afterwards – a lead they would never relinquish.
Heat two did see Gleb Chuganov’s season come to an unfortunate end. Struggling with faintness before the meeting, he caught too much grip while leading the race and slid off under the air fence. The talented youngster was able to walk away from the incident but illness afterwards, rumoured to include his heart, meant he took no further part in the action.
Gleb Chugunov was unwell before the meeting and certainly wasn’t too clever after his spill at Gorzow.
Both sides were able to take heat advantages off each other in the midst of some entertaining racing, but it was heat nine, ten and eleven that essentially got the job done for Gorzow. Having seen their aggregate lead cut down to just two points, Chomski’s side put on three consecutive heat advantages – including a pair of maximums – to open up a 13-point lead on the night with just four races left. Szymon Wozniak (11+2) was involved in both 5-1s, following in Zmarzlik for the first and leading Anders Thomsen (11+2) home for the second.
The heat sandwiched between these saw one of the most horrific crashes seen on Polish shale and it all happened on the final lap. While Michal Curzytek had come down under pressure from Thomsen, Niels-Kristian Iversen had slid off the back of his bike going into the third bend, having passed Tai Woffinden and looking good for a third-place finish. Unfortunately, Tai Woffinden (10) was carrying enough speed that he simply had nowhere else to go but to – completely unintentionally – ride straight over Iversen. Woffinden was catapulted over his handlebars into the air fence, leaving the track littered with bodies and bikes everywhere. Unsurprisingly, neither Iversen or Woffinden rode again that night and the heat was declared with just two riders.
Michal Curzytek had surprised everyone with his performance on Sunday night, and this was compounded further as he followed Chris Holder (8) home for a surprise 5-1 to keep his side in with half a chance of qualifying for the final.
But Stal Gorzow finished with a huge flourish; a flexing of their mechanical muscle and superiority over the battered and bruised Sparta Wroclaw team, running in three maximums in the last three heats to set up a hugely anticipated final with Unia Leszno.
|Heat 1||Wozniak, Janowski, Iversen, Bewley||58.25s||(4-2)|
|Heat 2||(Re-run) Karczmarz, Jasinski, Curzytek, Chuganov (exc.)||58.62s||(9-3)|
|Heat 3||Woffinden, Thomsen, C. Holder, J. Holder (dnf)||58.40s||(11-7)|
|Heat 4||Zmarzlik, Jasinski, Fricke, Chuganov||58.65s||(16-8)|
|Heat 5||Woffinden, Thomsen, Iversen, Fricke||58.69s||(19-11)|
|Heat 6||Janowski, C. Holder, J. Holder, Karczmarz||58.99s||(20-16)|
|Heat 7||Zmarzlik, Woffinden, Wozniak, Curzytek||58.29s||(24-18)|
|Heat 8||Janowski, J. Holder, Fricke, Jasinski||59.29s||(26-22)|
|Heat 9||Zmarzlik, Wozniak, C. Holder, Janowski||59.17s||(31-23)|
|Heat 10||Thomsen, Woffinden, Curzytek (exc.), Iversen (exc.)||60.43s||(34-25)|
|Heat 11||Wozniak, Thomsen, Fricke, Janowski||59.38s||(39-26)|
|Heat 12||C. Holder, Curzytek, Jasinski, Karczmarz||60.01s||(40-31)|
|Heat 13||Zmarzlik, J. Holder, C. Holder, Bewley||59.78s||(45-32)|
|Heat 14||J. Holder, Thomsen, Fricke, Curzytek||60.15s||(50-33)|
|Heat 15||Zmarzlik, Wozniak, Janowski, C. Holder||60.07s||(55-34)|
Your 2020 PGE Ekstraliga Play-off Final is:
Unia Leszno v Stal Gorzow
3rd/4th Place Play-off: Zielona Gora v Sparta Wroclaw
Both are set to be contested on 9/10/20 and 11/10/20
Note – BP= Bonus Points, scored when following a team-mate over the finish line (Cannot be scored if finishing last in the race)
📢 Decydujące mecze w #PGEEkstraliga 2020
— PGE Ekstraliga (@EkstraligaTV) October 5, 2020
We hope you enjoyed this article ‘Ekstraliga Round-Up: Semi-Finals, 2nd Leg’. Who do you think will lift the Ekstraliga trophy? Let us know!
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