Swedish racer Fredrik Lindgren pulled off a dramatic last bend move to clinch the ANLAS Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix from Polish star Patryk Dudek on the line.
Lindgren, who matched his score of 16 from Warsaw a fortnight ago, didn’t manage to edge out Pole Dudek in the opening lap.
The experienced 32-year-old used his extensive racing brain, though, to round his younger rival on the final turn and clinch the Grand Prix in dramatic circumstances.
Russia’s Emil Sayfutdinov finished third while Tai Woffinden was forced to pull up after running out of room down the backstraight of lap one.
Lindgren’s efforts mean he leaves the Czech Republic with a one-point lead over Great Britain’s Tai Woffinden after securing 32 points from the opening two rounds of the series.
A delighted Lindgren was elated after clinching the win, adding nights like this do not come around very often.
He said: “I’m super happy to get the win in Prague, it’s not often you win Grand Prix events like that. “I’ve worked really hard and have put a tough winter behind me after picking up some injuries.
“I’m happy to be here, and to win is awesome.”
Despite his triumph, Lindgren admitted he struggled to find the correct setup in the early stages of Saturday’s meeting as riders battled to find the right balance with the conditions presented to them.
Hot temperatures throughout Saturday in Prague allowed track staff to apply plenty of water to the racing surface to allow for a variety of lines to be raced on.
And it proved a case of ‘learning as you go’ for Lindgren, who now faces a five-week wait until the next round of the series in Horsens, Denmark, on June 30.
Lindgren said: “I struggled early on and was working hard with my equipment to go fast.
“In the end I found the right setup and got my confidence back. To win the last race like I did on the final bend was amazing.
“I really wanted the win in Warsaw, but I didn’t get it. But I did get it tonight.”
Meanwhile Polish prospect Patryk Dudek remains in the hunt for a World Championship medal after recording another double-figure score.
Despite missing out in the closing yards of a dramatic final, Dudek took the positives from the meeting and is already looking forward to his trip to Denmark in five weeks’ time.
He said: “I’m happy after tonight because I’m back fighting around the medal positions. “It’s only the second Grand Prix of the year and I’m pleased with how things are going. Congratulations to Freddie on a great win.”
There was also podium joy for Russian rocket Emil Sayfutdinov. The 28-year-old, who won in Prague nine years ago and in doing so became the youngest ever Grand Prix winner, almost doubled his points tally from Warsaw when collecting 15 points in front of thousands of fans at Prague’s Marketa Stadium.
The two-times Would Under 21 Champion benefited from Tai Woffinden’s unfortunate DNF in the final to pinch a podium spot, his first of the year.
Sayfutdinov said: “I want to say a massive thank you to all the fans from Russia. They came out to watch and support.
“I’m happy to be on the podium, I felt like we had to change every heat because of the track. The setup on the bike was always different.
“We tried to put something new together to get the speed and I’m pleased we ended up on the podium, now I’m looking forward to the future.”
Sayfutdinov’s Russian compatriot Artem Laguta was another rider to leave Prague in high spirits, despite missing out on a final spot.
Laguta scored seven points from his five qualifying rides, but reached the semi-finals after the countback system was referred to by officials as the Russian ended heat 20 level on points with Greg Hancock and Matej Zagar.
His efforts mean he remains in the top eight, 11 points behind table-topping Fredrik Lindgren.
Tai Woffinden also returned with a strong figure, though was ultimately left frustrated after being forced to retire in the final.
Woffinden dropped only two points on his way to the final as a second in heat 15 coupled with a runners up position in the semi-final saw the Brit advance to the final heat with 16 points in the bag. He is just one point short of Fredrik Lindgren while being 16 points inside the top eight.
Maciej Janowski went unbeaten from his first three rides, but a last place finish in heat 15 when put up against Laguta, Woffinden and Prezemyslaw Pawlicki signalled the start of a downward turn in the Polish racer’s form.
A second place in heat 18 behind Nicki Pedersen meant Janowski advanced to the semi-finals, but he was excluded from his respective semi when colliding with Emil Sayfutdinov on turn four of the opening lap.
Janowski sits level on points with Patryk Dudek in third place on 24 points after the opening two rounds.
Slovenian Matej Zagar occupies seventh while Chris Holder and veteran American Greg Hancock sit joint eighth on 15 points.
Jason Doyle’s slow start to his world championship defence continued, though an improved performance saw him register nine points before he finished third in the opening semi-final.
Danes Nicki Pedersen and Niels-Kristian Iversen are 12th and 13th on 10 and nine points respectively while Prezemyslaw Pawlicki remains 14th.
Meanwhile British hope Craig Cook continues to learn the Grand Prix trade as he finished the night on two points.
Next up for the SGP stars is the Danish FIM Speedway Grand Prix at the Casa Arena in Horsens on June 30.
FIM SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX STANDINGS: 1 Fredrik Lindgren 32, 2 Tai Woffinden 31, 3 Patryk Dudek 24, 4 Maciej Janowski 24, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 23, 6 Artem Laguta 21, 7 Matej Zagar 16, 8 Chris Holder 15, 9 Greg Hancock 15, 10 Jason Doyle 14, 11 Bartosz Zmarzlik 13, 12 Nicki Pedersen 10, 13 Niels Kristian Iversen 9, 14 Prezemyslaw Pawlicki 8, 15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 8, 16 Vaclav Milik 6, 17 Craig Cook 4, 18 Maksym Drabik 2, 19 Bartosz Smektala 2.