Saturday night saw Poland crowned Speedway World Champions at Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium with a brilliant team performance effort that saw Krzysztof Kasprzak scoring the clinching point for the Poles in the penultimate heat to see recording their 12th title and 7th under the newer format. Meanwhile Great Britain shocked the rest of the Speedway world with a stunning Silver medal that equalled their best finish to a Speedway World Cup since 2004, with World Champion Tai Woffinden scoring a bulk of the points that helped his nation claiming a place on the rostum.
After the borefest of the previous evening when the track produced a serious lack of passing ability from any of the four nations that took part in the Race-off, it saw the final however being a thrilling meeting and saw more passing in the opening two races of the event than that of the previous night before and saw some heart-stopping races too.
Tai Woffinden made a brilliant swooping move around the outside of Sweden’s Freddie Lindgren and Poland’s Krzysztof Kasprzak in the opening race as he roared around the outside to lead and see a sea of British flags waving in celebrations as he put the host nation in front after one race. Patryk Dudek then took Heat 2 to see a 3-way tie at the top of the leaderboard with Sweden, G.B and Poland all locked on four points while Australia had yet to register a point in the meeting. Heat 3 saw Danny King demolishing the tapes and being excluded from the re-run and saw the home side starting to fall away for the meantime. The re-run though threw up a fantastic race with Australia’s Sam Masters leading the way from Andreas Jonsson and Bartosz Zmarzlik, that was until Zmarzlik got by the Swede and went to challenge the Aussie rider for a couple of laps but Jonsson used his experience to steaming up the inside of both riders on the final bend to take victory and put Sweden ahead with Masters just holding onto second place.
Antonio Lindback then picked up a second successive race win for the Swedes in Heat 4, after the ‘Rio Rocket’ came from the back of the field to power his way around and help extend the lead for the defending champions as Sweden began to pull away slightly. Krysztoft Kasprzak then picked up a race win for Poland as the Coventry rider made a cut back between Andreas Jonsson and Robert Lambert, to see him putting his side back in the contest and moved the Poles just four points behind the leaders in the meeting. Heat 7 saw another great race taking place, after Zmarzlik went from third to first and saw Britain’s Craig Cook being relegated from second to last and had Chris Holder and Freddie Lindgren both having a ding-dong battle for second and saw a hairy moment with Lindgren just having enough room to squeeze between Holder and fence.
Woffinden made a rare poor start from the gate in Heat 8 and that allowed Poland’s captain Piotr Pawlicki to make the gate himself and saw him leaving the others behind, as he put his side just two points behind the Swedes and had their cause helped when the British rider managed to pass Peter Ljung for second place. Cook and Masters both blasted away from tapes in Heat 9, with the Aussie rider moving Cook out right towards the fence and effectively ended his race with both Kasprzak and Lindback coming underneath him and seeing the British rider not giving up hope of claiming a point, but it was to late in the race to make an impression on Lindback.
At the halfway stage of the Final, it saw Tai Woffinden making sure to correct his error of the previous race with a stunning win as the double World Champion blasted out of the gate and stretched away from his opponents, with Dudek passing Jonsson cruically on the fourth bend of the opening lap to see the Poles go level with Sweden at 18 points all see Great Britain gaining more points on the Aussies with them now just two points behind. Zmarzlik shown his liking for the Belle Vue track with his second win in a row to put the Poles in front for the first time in the meeting as the Polish rider made a nice cut back to pass Jason Doyle and Peter Ljung on the second bend of the opening lap.
Great Britain Team Manager Alun Rossiter, then played his Joker in Heat 12 with Tai Woffinden making a great start and taking the race win for six points to move Britain into third place and ahead of Australia and saw the start of the home side gaining momentum. Meanwhile there was a three-way battle for second place with Pawlicki, Lindgren and Masters all changing places frequently during the race and saw Poland now opening up a three point gap at the top of the leader board. Heat 13 saw Freddie Lindgren then pulling the Swedes back in the meeting, after he cut back under Britain’s Robert Lambert and saw a trend of the home riders finding it very hard to hold onto the lead when in good position. Lambert then faced the challenge from Poland’s Patryk Dudek and saw him and the Pole swapping places a couple of times before Dudek just had too much power for his rival.
Chris Holder then became the third Aussie heat winner in the final as he took Heat 14 ahead of Danny King, after the two of them were side by side for the first lap and saw the British Champion never giving up and chased down Holder for the entire race but just couldn’t find a way by him. It was pretty much the same story for Kasprzak too, as Ljung managed to hold off the advancing Polish rider and saw the leaders failing to score a point in a race for the first time since Heat 4.
Woffinden made three wins on the bounce in Heat 15 with another victory, as that moved the home side to within one point of the Swedes with five races left to go. We then had drama in Heat 16 when Craig Cook made the initial start and was lead the race, but with all the riders racing close together it had Jason Doyle having too much speed coming into the third bend and clipped Piotr Pawlicki leg and sent the Pole crashing to the deck. The referee excluded the Aussie who was on a Joker ride and saw the Belle Vue rider in Cook making the gate once more in the re-run and helpd Great Britain leapfrog Sweden into second place.
Heat 18 saw Cook involved again, but this time he and Andreas Jonsson both made the gate and Bartosz Zmazlik had the drive on both men to cut through the pair of them and take the win and leave a battle for second place as Jonsson just held off Cook to the line. With Sweden retaking second place from the home side, it saw Danny King who hadn’t made the best of gates by all accounts but it saw him going wide into the dirt and rounding Kasprzak and Grajczonek with only Lindgren halting his run. King then picked up a huge win for GB and saw Sweden now in third and had Poland picking up the vital point needed to regain the World Cup again and saw wild celebrations within the Polish contingent in the stands.
Heat 20 saw the last heat being a shootout for Silver between Sweden and the host country Great Britain and was like deja vu again, as in 2004 it saw Sweden and British fighting it out for gold on that occassion and saw a contenious incident that led to Sweden winning the World Cup that day. Woffinden didn’t make the best of starts in the crucial race, but he isn’t a double World Champion for no reason and so saw him forcing his way nearly to the front only for a determined ride by Piotr Pawlicki to shut the door on the British rider in the race. Lindgren and Sweden were forced to settle for a Bronze medal as despite the Wolves man passing Chris Holder, it wasn’t enough to prevent the hosts from securing Silver and sparked celebrations within the home crowd and saw Great Britain recording their best finish in 12 years.