Six-time FIM Speedway World Cup winner Jaroslaw Hampel says the pressure of racing in front of their home fans can bring the best out of Poland ahead of tomorrow’s Monster Energy SWC Final in Bydgoszcz.
Hampel skippers a powerful and experienced home side, featuring FIM Speedway Grand Prix star Krzysztof Kasprzak, Janusz Kolodziej and Piotr Protasiewicz – a rider in the form of his career.
They come up against a Team Great Britain side, unchanged from their Event 1 victory at King’s Lynn on Saturday, featuring world champ Tai Woffinden, Chris Harris, Danny King and Simon Stead.
Event 2 winners Denmark draft triple world champion Nicki Pedersen and world No.3 Niels-Kristian Iversen into their team for the Final, with Vastervik heroes Peter Kildemand and Mads Korneliussen joining them.
And Race Off winners Australia complete the line-up, with 2012 world champ Chris Holder captaining a team featuring his SGP rivals Darcy Ward and Troy Batchelor, plus Jason Doyle.
The Poles start the night as favourites, with the weight of an expectant nation on their shoulders. But this is nothing new to Hampel. The man who clinched the Monster Energy SWC trophy for Poland in a last-heat decider in Prague last summer has no fears about delivering when the heat is on.
He said: “The World Cup is one of the biggest competitions in Poland – probably every Polish speedway fan will watch us on Saturday. We feel a little bit of pressure, but we want to do a good job on the track.
“When we feel a little bit more pressure than normal, that works well for us. We put something extra in when we go on to the track. We will try to do well again.
“It’s always nice if we can race when the stadium is full. I hope we can have a good crowd and we can do something for the people supporting us in Bydgoszcz and around the country.”
For the first time in their history, Poland are seeded straight into the Final as hosts, while their rivals have already raced one or two meetings in the Monster Energy SWC.
But Hampel says his side will be anything but rusty and was satisfied with Friday’s practice session at the ZKS Polonia Stadium.
He said: “It’s weird because we go straight into the Final. But of course we’ve done some practice laps before we came here and this is all we can do. It was important to check the setup on the bikes and everything looked pretty good. We’re just waiting for Saturday night.
“Everyone knows this track. It’s not a technical track. You need a very fast bike here if you want to think about getting a good result. We have been working on that in practice and hopefully we can race fast on the track on Saturday.”
Hampel knows his side faces a tough battle to win their seventh SWC gold medal in 10 seasons with seven of SGP stars and three world champions racing for their rivals.
He said: “There are four pretty strong teams here and we should have a great competition.
“We need to have a little bit of luck and just do everything the best we can. It’s hard to say too much before we go riding, but we are always ready and hopefully we can deliver something good.”
MONSTER ENERGY SWC FINAL LINE-UPS
1. Nicki Pedersen
2. Peter Kildemand
3. Mads Korneliussen
4. Niels-Kristian Iversen (captain)
1. Chris Holder (captain)
2. Darcy Ward
3. Jason Doyle
4. Troy Batchelor
1. Piotr Protasiewicz
2. Krzysztof Kasprzak
3. Janusz Kolodziej
4. Jaroslaw Hampel (captain)
TEAM GREAT BRITAIN (YELLOW)
1. Tai Woffinden (captain)
2. Simon Stead
3. Chris Harris
4. Danny King