This week sees the Annual Monster Energy Speedway World Cup taking place in Denmark, Sweden and finally in Great Britain, as it sees only winners advancing in the tournament and will see the new National Speedway Stadium in Manchester crowning the World Champions come Saturday night.
With the hosts Great Britain getting a bye straight to the final on Saturday, it’s saw the rest of the Speedway Nations battling it out to take their place at weekend and hope to be the Country that lifts the Ove Fundin Trophy. Last Saturday saw Event One taking place in Vojens, Denmark and was a very close meeting with the pre-meeting talk all being about a likely shootout between the hosts Denmark and the bookies favourites in Poland and that proved to be a correct assessment.
Poland led the meeting from start to finish and had the Danes on their tails throughout the entire meeting and came within a whisker of pipping them late on, but the hosts were forced to settle for the lottery of the Race-off on Friday night in Manchester. Despite the attention being on the top two all evening and seeing Denmark edged out by Poland with Three points the difference, it should also be noted that the third placed side Russia could easily have come up along the rails and shocked their rivals, with the Russians finishing four points behind the Danes.
In fairness the result was never in doubt for the top Two finishers, as it was always going to be between the two traditional Speedway countries of Denmark and Poland, it was just a case of which way round they would finish. However when you analyse the meeting and see that former Coventry Bees rider Emil Sayfutdinov top scored with 18 and with Artem Laguta supporting him with 8 points as well, the duo helped their Country to their first ever Race-off meeting on Friday. It should also be pointed out that they were missing their other top rider in Grigory Laguta, as the Russian racer had suffered a hand injury prior to the meeting in Vojens and was a case of what might have been for the Russians if Laguta had lined up for them. Meanwhile another snippet of information that wasn’t picked up on was that Sayfutdinov had won as many races as entire Danish side, with the former Grand Prix rider claiming five race wins in the event.
For Poland they laid down a marker to their fellow World Cup rivals as the whole side put a in great team performance and made more impressive with the fact the that this Polish was a young crop of riders and can only get better. Former Coventry rider Piotr Pawlicki rode to a brilliant 12 points for the Poles and was followed by youngsters Patryk Dudek on 11 and Bartosz Zmarzlik on 9. Their captain was the oldest in the side at age 24 in Maciej Janowski, as the skipper managed to only score 7 points from his five rides and will be replaced in the World Cup Final on Saturday Evening by Krzysztof Kasprzak.
Denmark had Michael Jepsen Jensen leading his Country with 12 points and was closely followed by Leon Madsen on 10 points, with Niels-Kristian Iversen on 8 and Kenneth Bjerre scoring 6 points in the Danish challenge to their opponents. Danish Team Boss the former Four-Times World Champion in Hans Nielsen, has already deciding not to bring in former World Champion in Nicki Pedersen back for the Race-Off on Friday, as the rider has been on holiday as the ‘Professor’ as he was commonly known in his racing days has seen him sticking with the same side at the National Speedway Stadium.
For the Czech Republic side, it was basically a case of them really just their making up the numbers in the meeting and saw only Vaclav Milik turning for his side, after he scored 12 of their 19 points in the meeting.
Russia = 32
1. Grigorij Laguta – (VK – 0, VK – 1, VK – 0, ES – 6^) = 0 (Withdrawn)
2. Emil Sayfutdinov – 3, 0, 3, 3, 6^, 3 = 18
3. Andrei Kudriashov – 1, 3, 0, 0, 1, 0 = 5
4. Artem Laguta – 0, 2, 2, 2, 2 = 8
5. Viktor Kulakov – 0, 1, 0, (AK – 1) = 1
Poland = 39
1. Maciej Janowski – 2, 1, 2, F/X, 2 = 7
2. Patryk Dudek – 3, 3, 1, 2, 2 = 11
3. Piotr Pawlicki – 3, 1, 2, 3, 3 = 12
4. Bartosz Zmarzlik – 1, 2, 3, 3, X = 9
5. Krystian Pieszczek – DNR
Czech Republic = 19
1. Josef Franc – 0, 0, (VM – 2^), 1, 1 = 2
2. Matej Kus – 1, 0, 1, 1, 0 = 3
3. Eduard Krcmar – 0, 0, 1, 1, 0 = 2
4. Vaclav Milik – 3, 3, 2^, 2, 1, 1 = 12
5. Zdenek Holub – DNR
Denmark = 36
1. Kenneth Bjerre – 2, 2, R, (MJJ – 4^), 2 = 6
2. Leon Madsen – 1, 3, 3, EF, 3 = 10
3. Michael Jepsen Jensen – 2, 2, 3, F/X, 4^, 1 = 12
4. Niels-Kristian Iversen – 2, 1, F/X, 2, 3 = 8
5. Fredrik Jakobsen – DNR
On Tuesday Evening it saw Vastervik in Sweden hosting Event Two and was pretty much a two horse race right the way through, with the Swedes and the Australians battling it out as winners of the meeting. Things were made interesting two hours prior to the meeting starting, when a massive storm hit the area and saw the track different made it an even contest for all. Sweden failed score in Heat 1 after Freddie Lindgren had touched the tapes and handed a early boost to their counterparts in the race. Australia led the meeting up until Heat 8, when the Swedes then levelled things up and saw a real battle for third proving interesting too as Germany and America went back and forth the entire night, with all teams having their own respective match-ups.
The wide straights made for some thrilling racing and saw some heartstopping moments, especially in Heat 12 you could have thrown the proverbial blanket over the entire group of riders as they all entered the 3rd bend on the opening lap. We also had a bit of controversy thrown in to boot in at Heat 14, when Jason Doyle was leading Sweden’s Andreas Jonsson for the whole race and then had the Aussie purposely slowly down to allow Jonsson to pass him so the Aussies could play a joker. Jonsson was far too experienced to be duped like that and saw him going equally as slowly as Doyle was going and saw the slowest ending to a race you will likely see. The result saw Doyle winning and having Australia unable to play a joker in the meeting and that effectively helped the Swedes move on to try and defend their crown on Saturday.
Sweden went into the meeting as defending champions and based on this display you wouldn’t put it past the 10-times World Champions to equal Poland as the most successful Speedway nation. Every rider got into double digits, with ‘A.J’ Andreas Jonsson and the winner of the British Grand Prix in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago in Antonio Lindback both scoring 13 points, with Lindback have the race of the night against Greg Hancock with passing a plenty and best Heat of the World Cup so far.Freddie Lindgren and Peter Ljung both collected 11 points in Sweden’s victory on home shale.
Australia had Jason Doyle top scoring for them with 12 points, while former World Champion Chris Holder claimed 11 with Belle Vue’s Max Fricke scoring 9 and Wolves Sam Masters registering 5 points for the Aussies. For the Stars and Stripes of America it saw Greg Hancock not surprisely finish top of the scoring charts in the meeting with 17 points, while his teammates failed to back him up with any support on what was a tough night all around the American pits. If you take into consideration that Billy Janniro flew in especially just to ride in the meeting and hadn’t done a top International meeting for 8-years, it was always going to be a tough ask.
Janniro and Ryan Fisher who were both part of the old Coventry Bees setup in the early 2000’s, saw both riders picking up 2 points each in the meeting and had Ricky Wells suffering a disappointing night for him personally as he scored a single point and will want to make amends at the Race-off.
Before the meeting no one really gave Germany any hopes of doing anything in the event and was just a case of them making the numbers up. However no one told the Germans this and fought nearly all meeting with the American side for third place on the night. For Tobias Kroner this was just a hobby for him racing in the World Cup event, as the German rider has since cut back on his Speedway duties and now works for a living instead of racing in the European leagues. Rider of the night was arguably Martin Smolinski, as the racer enjoyed a stunning night’s work and raced to a 12 point haul for his team, while Kroner made 4 and saw former Belle Vue and Edinburgh Monarchs man Kevin Wolbert scoring 2 points, with Kai Huckenbeck who raced earlier in the Elite League for the King’s Lynn Stars picking up just a single point.
Australia = 37
1. Chris Holder – 3, 2, 1, 2^, 3 = 11
2. Sam Masters – 2, 1, 0, 0, 2 = 5
3. Max Fricke – 3, 2, 2, 0, 2 = 9
4. Jason Doyle – 2, 3, 3, 3, 1 = 12
5. Brady Kurtz – DNR
USA = 22
1. Greg Hancock – 3, 1, 3, 6^, 2, 2 = 17
2. Ryan Fisher – 1, 0, 0, 1, 0 = 2
3. Billy Janniro – 1, 0, 1, 0, 0 = 2
4. Ricky Wells – 0, 0, 1, 0 = 1
5. Luke Becker – DNR
Germany = 19
1. Kevin Wolbert – 1, 1, 0, 0, 0 = 2
2. Kai Huckenbeck – 0, 0, 0, 1 = 1
3. Tobias Kroner – 0, 1, 1, 1, 1 = 4
4. Martin Smolinski – 1, 2, 3, 1, 4^, 1 = 12
5. No Rider
Sweden = 48
1. Antonio Lindback – 2, 3, 2, 3, 3 = 13
2. Fredrik Lindgren – X, 3, 3, 3, 2 = 11
3. Andreas Jonsson – 3, 3, 2, 2, 3 = 13
4. Peter Ljung – 2, 2, 2, 2, 3 = 11
5. Joel Andersson – DNR
That means this Thursday will see a fiercely contested Race-Off at the National Speedway Stadium at Belle Vue on Friday, with Denmark against Australia, the United States and Russia. Advantage you would say is in the favour of the Australians, after all they have Mark Lemon who is the Team Manager of Belle Vue and also have Max Fricke who rides there week in, week out for his league side and also Sam Masters who has ridden the track with Wolverhampton only a couple of weeks ago. Those two riders are the only ones to have any experience of the Manchester circuit and that could prove to be decisive in the meeting.
This new circuit in Manchester is based on Bydgoszcz in Poland but also has a couple of other elements from other tracks too, with Vojens being another track that they got ideas on especially with both venues suffering from the inclimate weather. Providing that weather remains good, it should hopefully play host to some amazing speedway over the 2 days in Gorton,Manchester and will showcase how good of a track and venue that the new stadium in the sport is too, but also prove to be a big draw for British Speedway too.