Polish skipper Piotr Pawlicki was elated to skipper his country to their seventh Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup win in Manchester. Pawlicki’s men topped the rostrum at the National Speedway Stadium on 39 points, seeing off hosts Great Britain, who won silver for the first time since 2004 with 32, last year’s winners Sweden (30) and Australia (22).
While Kasprzak played his part in a fifth SWC title triumph and 2013 winner Dudek won his second gold medal, Pawlicki and Bartosz Zmarzlik won the Monster Energy SWC for the first time. And to lift the Ove Fundin Trophy into the Manchester night sky was a special moment for the Leszno-born racer.
He said: “This is a big day for me because this is the first time I’ve raced in the Polish senior team and I was captain today. I have to say thank you to the guys. All the riders, Patryk Dudek, Bartosz Zmarzlik and Krzysztof Kasprzak, scored good points and we won.
“This a big night for Poland. This is our seventh gold medal and I am very happy. I say thank you to the coach because for many years, he has coached the Polish team. After Vojens, he said to me ‘you are the captain.’ So thank you to him for that.”
Pawlicki hopes to take his blistering Monster Energy SWC form into the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series, which resumes with the Swedish SGP in Malilla on August 13.
He said: “The start of the season was no good this year. But I have worked all the time on my bikes and my engines. I have practised in Leszno many times and now I have good points and better speed. I had a good meeting in Cardiff and my head has been better since Cardiff. This was a good result too.
“I have half a season left and for every meeting, I will have full concentration. I want to have good points. This is speedway; sometimes it’s no good and sometimes it’s better. But now it’s much, much better and I am very happy.”
Great Britain skipper Tai Woffinden inspired the Lions to their first SWC rostrum finish in a decade with an incredible 19-point haul, which put his side the closest they have been to gold since they lost the 2004 SWC crown by a point at Poole.
Woffinden said: “It was a good meeting. I said before the start, 'let’s focus on getting a bronze medal, and when we’re in that position, we can focus on the silver, and then we can focus on the gold.' There was a point when we were only two points behind, and I said ‘right boys, let’s give it to them as hard as we can and see where we’re at.’ It wasn’t meant to be, but silver is still great.
“We’ve been struggling to even make the Finals over the past ... I don’t know how many years. To be here and get second place is nothing short of amazing for the team. I’m really happy.”
Woffinden didn’t leave Manchester with his medal, after offering a young girl in the crowd the chance to join him on the podium, before presenting her with his prize as a priceless souvenir.
He said: “A medal is a piece of metal and can sit on the wall for years. I picked a young girl out of the crowd, brought her down on to the podium with me and put the medal around her neck. It has probably made her happy for a couple of weeks and she’ll remember that for the rest of her life. That means more to me than taking it home and chucking it under the stairs with all the other ones.”
Dejected Swedish skipper Andreas Jonsson was baffled with his team’s mid-meeting slump as they came up short in the race for gold.
He said: “We just lost it. I thought we fought all the way through the meeting from the beginning until the end. But somewhere in the middle of the meeting, we just lost the setup. I can’t speak for the others but I know they worked as hard as they could. Everybody fought as much as they could. Personally, I didn’t feel fast enough. I still think it’s good we got a medal from this year’s SWC. I’m happy about that, even if we were looking for another gold medal.”
Aussie boss Mark Lemon paid tribute to his riders’ dedication to the national side and was gutted they weren’t rewarded with a medal. He said: “It has been a hard World Cup. We were always up against it. I feel for the guys. They have put a lot of effort in, but for no reward. We’re gutted. It’s never nice to come last.”
MONSTER ENERGY FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD CUP FINAL SCORES
POLAND 39: 1 Piotr Pawlicki 10, 2 Bartosz Zmarzlik 11, 3 Patryk Dudek 10, 4 Krzysztof Kasprzak 8, 5 Krystian Pieszczek DNR.
GREAT BRITAIN 32: 1 Craig Cook 5, 2 Tai Woffinden 19, 3 Danny King 5, 4 Robert Lambert 3, 5 Adam Ellis DNR.
SWEDEN 30: 1 Andreas Jonsson 8, 2 Antonio Lindback 6, 3 Peter Ljung 6, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 10, 5 Joel Andersson DNR.
AUSTRALIA 22: 1 Jason Doyle 7, 2 Josh Grajczonek 0, 3 Chris Holder 10, 4 Sam Masters 5, 5 Brady Kurtz DNR.
BSI Speedway, Photos Christopher Horne