Under 21 World Championship speedway got off to a successful start in Poznan on Sunday after early weather worries. Heavy rain had caused the cancellation of the morning practice and there were doubts that the meeting would be able to go ahead. However, clouds finally cleared in the late afternoon allowing the organisers to repair the damage to the track and racing finally got under way in bright sunshine nearly an hour after the scheduled start time.
It was the Poles who provided the shine on the track providing three of the four finalists and suggesting that their success in world speedway is likely to continue into the next generation. With an unbeaten 21 points, Maksym Drabik was supreme and showed no effects from the injuries that interrupted his progress last year. Second was Bartosz Smektala erasing the disappointments of 2016 showing good speed and suggesting that his season could be rewarded with a medal at the end of the series. In third place was Jevgenijs Kostigovs, one of the heroes of the Latvian senior squad in this month’s Speedway World Cup. after a steady performance not helped by a start disqualification in his first outing.
Current champion Max Fricke started his title defence with four wins out of five in the qualifying races but was surprisingly eliminated at the semi-final stage after a slow start left him battling for third place with Britain’s Robert Lambert. Fricke was the best of the Australians with Brady Kurtz clearly not fully recovered from his recent broken rib and Jack Holder unable to recover from a firm first bend challenge from Drabik which left him in third place in his semi-final.
The Scandinavians were disappointing and Andreas Lyager’s heavy fall in the first semi-final typified their meeting. Patrick Hansen was a shadow of the rider who claimed fifth place last year and Alexander Woentin’s debut meeting produced only three points for the young Swede including an engine failure at the start of his first race and a fall in his second.
Robert Lambert will have been dissatisfied with his results when after a splendid start with 9 points from his first three rides he appeared to be affected by a recurrence of his recent hand injury aggravated by a fall when brought down by Poland’s Kasper Woryna in Heat 5. Woryna, too, was surprisingly eliminated scoring only five points which included two disqualifications.
Final 2 will be held in Gustrow, Germany on 8th September.
Leading scorers after the first final are:
1. Maksym Drabik (Poland) 21 points
2. Bartosz Smektala (Poland) 15
3. Max Fricke (Australia) 15
4. Jevgenijs Kostigovs (Latvia) 11
5. Jack Holder (Australia) 11
6. Dominik Kubera (Poland) 10
7. Robert Lambert (Great Britain) 9
8. Andreas Lyager (Denmark) 8
9. Brady Kurtz (Australia) 6
10. Kacper Woryna (Poland) 5
11. Eduard Krcmar (Czech Rep) 5
12. Dmitri Berge (France) 5
13. Rafal Karczmarz (Poland) 4
14. Patrik Hansen (Denmark) 4
15. Lukas Fienhage (Germany) 3
16. Alexander Woentin (Sweden) 3
The series will continue with rounds in Gustrow on 8th September and Pardubice on 30th September
Graham Brodie / Photo @OneSport