Russian racer Emil Sayfutdinov showed his steel to seal his country’s third straight Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations world title in Lublin on Saturday night.
The Salavat-born star skippered Russia to glory in 2018 and 2019, and the world champions retained their title in a rain-curtailed Final in Lublin.
Racing was halted after 15 heats due to track conditions, but the scores were counted at the conclusion of race 14, when all seven countries had contested four heats apiece.
While Russia tied on 23 with hosts Poland, the defending champions got the gold medals after winning their head-to-head battle in heat eight, when Artem Laguta rounded Polish star Szymon Wozniak to seal a Russian 5-4 advantage.
That ride wasn’t the only decisive moment, as Sayfutdinov roared to the front in heat 13 to restrict Australia to a 5-4 race win. The Leszno star breathed in and squeezed through a seemingly impossible gap between Aussie captain Jason Doyle and the fast-approaching fence to take the lead.
It was a golden moment for Sayfutdinov, but he admits he didn’t have the best view of the action.
He said: “I couldn’t see where I was going coming into the corner. The rain was coming into my goggles.
“There was a lot of material on the outside, but I got speed there and I just saw Doyle going straight to the fence. I found a little room and I passed him. I am really happy to have done it, stayed safe and got some good points.”
Russia hadn’t won a senior speedway world title – individual or team – prior to their 2018 Monster Energy SON win in Wroclaw.
Now they are triple world champions and Sayfutdinov is elated to have written more racing history for his country.
He said: “I know we didn’t continue with the whole meeting. But we are world champions, so we are really happy. That’s three times in a row!
“At the beginning of the meeting, track conditions were bad. But when they said ‘we need to go’, we were ready. We were focused on our points and concentrating on our starts. Everything was working and we are really happy to be world champions again.”
The Russians won their second world title in front of a passionate home crowd in Togliatti in 2019, but Sayfutdinov has made no secret of his desire for his national side to receive greater backing in their homeland.
He hopes another Monster Energy SON win will boost the sport’s profile even further in Russia.
The 30-year-old said: “I hope speedway in Russia will grow up so quickly and we hope our federation and fans will support us, along with all the companies we have in Russia. Hopefully somebody can see us. We deserve that support and for us it is important.”
FIM Speedway Grand Prix world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik starred on 15 points from a possible 16 for Poland as they fell agonisingly short of their first Monster Energy SON win.
They were forced to settle for silver for the second straight season in what was legendary coach Marek Cieslak’s last event as national boss following a career that saw him clinch seven FIM Speedway World Cup wins.
Denmark took third place on 19 points for their first world championship medal since they won SWC silver in 2015. They tied with Sweden, but claimed the last spot on the podium after winning their head-to-head battle in race 10.
Australia took fifth spot on 17, with Great Britain sixth on 12 and the Czech Republic seventh on 11.
MONSTER ENERGY FIM SPEEDWAY OF NATIONS FINAL RESULTS
RUSSIA 23: 1 Emil Sayfutdinov 15, 2 Artem Laguta 8, 3 Evgenii Saidullin DNR.
POLAND 23: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 15, 2 Szymon Wozniak 8, 3 Dominik Kubera DNR.
DENMARK 19: 1 Leon Madsen 10, 2 Anders Thomsen 4, 3 Marcus Birkemose 5.
SWEDEN 19: 1 Fredrik Lindgren 14, 2 Oliver Berntzon 5, 3 Alexander Woentin DNR.
AUSTRALIA 17: 1 Jason Doyle 5, 2 Max Fricke 12, 3 Jaimon Lidsey 0.
GREAT BRITAIN 12: 1 Robert Lambert 6, 2 Drew Kemp DNR, 3 Dan Bewley 6.
CZECH REPUBLIC 11: 1 Vaclav Milik 11, 2 Eduard Krcmar 0, 3 Petr Chlupac 0.