Russian skipper Emil Sayfutdinov hailed his nation’s young guns after the team powered into their first Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final for four years in Leszno tonight.
Sayfutdinov stormed to a 15-point maximum as Russia won the Race Off on 46 points, beating Australia (33), Latvia (30) and USA (15) to claim the last spot in Saturday’s Monster Energy SWC Final, where they will face Poland, Great Britain and Sweden. Despite the former world No.3 leading the way, he was well supported by fellow Salavat-born racer Gleb Chugunov, as the 17-year-old sensation charged to 11 points, with Andrei Kudriashov, 25, and Vadim Tarasenko, 23, weighing in with 10 apiece.
Sayfutdinov was elated with his side and admits performing without pressure helped them claim a commanding victory. He said: “It’s brilliant. I couldn’t believe it! It was a good performance from our team. All the guys like Kudriashov, Tarasenko and Gleb Chugunov – they’re young riders and they showed how good they can be.
“We didn’t have any pressure. We just did our job. Before the meeting, we kept smiling and doing what we could. In every heat we tried to win the start and even if we didn’t, we could pass. So I am happy. I think it’s awesome for us. It was a big success today and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I just want to say thanks to everyone who supported us. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
The success of a young Russian side suggests they have a great future on the world stage. Tomorrow they have the chance to win their first Monster Energy SWC medal since they bagged bronze at Swedish track Malilla in 2012.
Sayfutdinov said: “This is good for the future. But we just want to concentrate more on pushing tomorrow. We will see. It will be a difficult day and harder because it’s a Final. But there’s no pressure. We’re just going there to enjoy it.”
On a night which saw the Russian quartet produce a famous performance, Sayfutdinov was particularly proud of his teenage protégée Chugunov.
He said: “Gleb is young and he’s from Salavat, the town where I was born. That’s an amazing feeling. When he was young, I helped him a little bit. He listened and now he’s riding in the World Cup. I am so happy he did it for Russia. He did a good job.”
Australian team manager Mark Lemon was left to rue his side’s misfortune as they fell short of the SWC Final for the first time since 2010. He said: “I’m pretty disappointed. It’s just how it has gone – we haven’t really had much luck this year. You need a lot of luck in these competitions.
“It obviously started with Jason Doyle sustaining the foot injury and then Nick Morris missing out with a head injury. That put us on the back foot straight away. Jason returned, but we came up against very gutsy Russia and Latvia teams. They’re very dialled in on these tracks, but we didn’t get the rub of the green.”
Latvian ace Andzejs Lebedevs led his side to their joint best Monster Energy SWC finish as he blazed to an awesome 18 points. But he admits his team could have made history and claimed fifth place in the competition for the first time after falling just three points short of Australia. He said: “It was a good night for me and my team. Maybe it could have been a little bit better, but we did all we could. It wasn’t such a good meeting for Team Australia. They beat us by only three points.”
USA may have finished fourth on the night, but the meeting ended in style for 18-year-old Luke Becker, who raced to a famous victory over Jevgenijs Kostigovs, Tarasenko and Troy Batchelor in heat 20. He was ecstatic with his first Monster Energy SWC race win and paid tribute to a battling American team. He said: “I can’t put into words how proud I am. Winning that last race was just a dream come true. It’s crazy! I am lost for words right now.
“We’re all over here with the same goal – we just want to get over here and race overseas. I’m not just proud of myself; I’m proud of the team too. We’ve come a long way and it’s just getting better and better and better. Hopefully next year we’ll have even more to offer. Everyone gave it 110 percent and definitely put in all the effort they could. No-one can say they didn’t do well. Everyone gave it their all.”
RACE OFF SCORES
1 RUSSIA 46: 1 Emil Sayfutdinov 15, 2 -, 3 Vadim Tarasenko 10, 4 Andrei Kudriashov 10, 5 Gleb Chugunov 11.
2 AUSTRALIA 33: 1 Jason Doyle 12, 2 Sam Masters 2, 3 Chris Holder 6, 4 Troy Batchelor 7, 5 Max Fricke 6.
3 LATVIA 30: 1 Kasts Puodzuks 4, 2 Jevgenijs Kostigovs 6, 3 Andzejs Lebedevs 18, 4 Maksims Bogdanovs 2, 5 No Rider.
4 USA 15: 1 Ricky Wells 6, 2 Gino Manzares 2, 3 Luke Becker 4, 4 Dillon Ruml 1, 5 Broc Nicol 2.
MONSTER ENERGY SWC FINAL LINE-UPS
SWEDEN (RED): 1 Antonio Lindback, 2 Fredrik Lindgren ©, 3 Linus Sundstrom, 4 Andreas Jonsson, 5 Joel Kling (U21).
POLAND (BLUE): 1 Patryk Dudek, 2 Maciej Janowski ©, 3 Piotr Pawlicki, 4 Bartosz Zmarzlik, 5 Bartosz Smektala (U21).
GREAT BRITAIN (WHITE): 1 Steve Worrall, 2 Chris Harris, 3 Robert Lambert, 4 Craig Cook ©, 5 Adam Ellis (U21).
RUSSIA (YELLOW): 1 Emil Sayfutdinov ©, 2 -, 3 Vadim Tarasenko, 4 Andrei Kudriashov, 5 Gleb Chugunov (U21).