Polish hero Patryk Dudek hopes his side’s sensational spirit will carry them to Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup gold after they booked their place at the Final in Manchester.
The Poles triumphed in Event 1 at Vojens on Saturday night, piling up 39 points to beat hosts Denmark (36), Russia (32) and the Czech Republic (19). The six-time winners now join Great Britain in the Final at Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium next Saturday, with the Danes and Russians lining up in the Race Off there on Friday night. The Czechs are eliminated.
Dudek ended a sensational night’s work on 11 points, securing the all-important second place in heat 20 to put victory beyond doubt, before being given the bumps by his elated team mates. The Zielona Gora and Dackarna star paid tribute to the awesome atmosphere in the Polish camp as Piotr Pawlicki also starred on 12 points, while Bartosz Zmarzlik notched nine and Maciej Janowski scored seven.
He said: “We have a very good team spirit. Every four heats we were talking and changing our setups. It was very good teamwork in the pits and I hope it will be the same in the Final. Maybe we can win?”
Some may question whether Poland’s quartet of World Under-21 champions has the experience to lift the Ove Fundin Trophy with all of their riders under the age of 25. But 2013 Monster Energy SWC winner Dudek can’t wait to test himself against the sport’s top stars in Manchester.
He said: “Sometimes a young team has problems with the pressure in these meetings because it is the World Cup. Manchester is a new track for me, Bartek and Piotr Pawlicki. But I hope this is the start of a great future for this team. This will be a good experience for me and the team.”
Polish champion Dudek was delighted to hold his nerve when it mattered most and finish off the job for his country.
He said: “I was a little bit nervous before heat 20 because after my second heat, I had a little problem with the bike and I had a problem with the setup. But when I dropped the clutch in the last heat, I felt it was a very good start. I had good speed. In the last heat, Emil (Sayfutdinov) was leading, so I stayed only in second place. But that was important for the team because we won. We start in the Final now and everything is good. We had more luck than other teams, but the most important thing is that Poland are in the Final.”
Danish team manager Hans Nielsen was delighted with the application of his team as they fell just three points short of the Poles. There’s much speculation over possible line-up changes for the Race Off, with rumours that triple world champion Nicki Pedersen may be drafted in.
Nielsen plans to announce his team on Monday. But asked if his Vojens quartet Niels-Kristian Iversen (eight points), Kenneth Bjerre (six), Leon Madsen (10) and Michael Jepsen Jensen (12) had done enough to keep their places, he said: “There is a good chance. But we haven’t quite decided yet. I’m going to sleep on it for a couple of nights and make a decision on Monday.
“The overall verdict was very good. I thought the team really fought well and had a really good chance to win. We had a little bad luck go against us. There were a couple of engine stops. We could just as easily have won as finished second.
“The team spirit was great. They fought really hard and rode well. I was very pleased, especially with Leon Madsen and Michael Jepsen Jensen being the new guys. I thought they did extremely well. There’s a very good chance we will keep them. Bjerre was fighting all the way. I was very pleased with their performances. But on the other hand, I have a couple of options, so we just want to sleep on it and have a little think about it.”
Russian skipper Emil Sayfutdinov admits losing Grigorii Laguta to injury cost his side dearly as they finished third.
He said: “It was a tough meeting. We lost many points on the track, but we are really happy because we were missing Grigorii and it was the first time Viktor Kulakov had ridden in a big meeting like this. But he gained some good experience for the future. The Race Off will be tough also. This is a new track. I’ve heard the Manchester track is really fast and really good for racing. We will see what happens.”
The Monster Energy SWC action switches to Sweden next, where Event 2 takes place in Vastervik on Tuesday as defending champions Sweden face Australia, USA and Germany for the right to join GB and Poland in the Final.
Monster Energy SWC tickets are still available online. For more information and to book, visit: monsterenergyswc.com/swc_events.
MONSTER ENERGY SWC EVENT 1 SCORES
POLAND 39: 1 Maciej Janowski 7, 2 Patryk Dudek 11, 3 Piotr Pawlicki 12, 4 Bartosz Zmarzlik 9, 5 Krystian Pieszczek DNR.
DENMARK 36: 1 Kenneth Bjerre 6, 2 Leon Madsen 10, 3 Michael Jepsen Jensen 12, 4 Niels-Kristian Iversen 8, 5 Frederik Jakobsen DNR.
RUSSIA 32: 1 Viktor Kulakov 1, 2 Emil Sayfutdinov 18, 3 Andrei Kudriashov 5, 4 Artem Laguta 8.
CZECH REPUBLIC 19: 1 Josef Franc 2, 2 Matej Kus 3, 3 Eduard Krcmar 2, 4 Vaclav Milik 12, 5 Zdenek Holub DNR.