Polish ace Bartosz Zmarzlik insists he’s focused on the racing and not his FIM Speedway Grand Prix world-title chances ahead of the FST Grupa Brokerska Torun SGP this weekend.
The reigning champion heads to the famous Marian Rose Motoarena for SGP 2020 rounds seven and eight on Friday and Saturday with a seven-point lead over nearest rival Fredrik Lindgren at the World Championship summit.
With a maximum of 40 championship points on offer over two days, Zmarzlik needs to score 34 or more to be absolutely certain of claiming the sport’s biggest prize, although that target is reduced with every point dropped by his rivals.
The Gorzow hero goes into the Torun rounds on 99 points, with Lindgren chasing hard on 92 as he bids to become Sweden’s first world champion since Tony Rickardsson lifted his sixth title in 2005.
Third-placed Tai Woffinden of Great Britain is also firmly in contention, standing third on 89 points as he aims to become only the seventh rider in history to claim four or more world individual crowns.
Zmarzlik has a golden opportunity to become Poland’s first-ever double world champion and only the third rider to win back-to-back titles in the SGP era since 1995. But the 25-year-old is keen to focus on the job in hand rather than the high stakes on offer.
He said: “Of course I have the chance, but I don’t think ‘I must’, only ‘I can.’ I don’t think ‘I must win’ because this is not so good for the head. I’m just looking for good racing.
“I am focused on the next meeting – the Friday and then the Saturday. We will see what happens after the last heat on Saturday. After the meeting, I will look at the table and see what has happened with my points. I am really not looking at my chances of winning a medal for now.
“Torun is a track I like and I’ll be working 100 percent on the track to put on good racing for the people. This is very important to me. I am not looking at this guy or this guy or thinking I have a good chance to win this medal. I am just looking at my racing.
“There is a lot of work ahead for me. I will treat it like a normal meeting. I’ll give it maximum focus. Everyone is working well for me in the team and I’m ready for it.”
Zmarzlik has raced six of this year’s eight rounds on Polish tracks. Having so many home fans in the stands can bring extra pressure for riders. But the nine-time SGP winner insists they only fuel his performance on the shale.
“I like racing in Poland,” he said. “A lot of fans are with me and it feels like they’re on the bike with me! In Torun, Gorzow and Wroclaw, we always have the Polish fans behind us and I also saw a lot of fans from Poland in Prague. For a Polish rider, this is always nice.”
One man also seeking a huge weekend in Torun is wild card Jack Holder. The Aussie made his SGP debut as a track reserve at the 2016 Australian SGP in Melbourne, scoring two points from as many rides.
He gets at least 10 rides to show his class against the best riders in the world this weekend, and Holder goes into SGP rounds seven and eight on the back of an outstanding campaign.
After finishing second in the Australian Championship last January, he topped the Polish First Division averages for Torun, leading them to promotion back into the PGE Ekstraliga. He’s also ninth in the top-flight average charts for Gorzow, ahead of a host of SGP stars.
But he can’t wait to line up in the biggest meetings of his career to date on the Torun track he has called home since 2017.
Holder said: “It’s definitely a dream come true; that’s for sure. Of course it’s going to be tough, but I have had a really good season and I think I am ready to give it a shot with the big boys.
“All the boys are going for the championship, but what better place to do this than at my home track.
“I think I can mix it with them. I race with them in the Ekstraliga and it’s no different. There will definitely be some nerves – that’s for sure. But that’s all part of the experience and I can’t wait.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 99, 2 Fredrik Lindgren 92, 3 Tai Woffinden 89, 4 Maciej Janowski 71, 5 Leon Madsen 70, 6 Jason Doyle 69, 7 Martin Vaculik 63, 8 Emil Sayfutdinov 60, 9 Artem Laguta 60, 10 Max Fricke 40, 11 Matej Zagar 37, 12 Niels-Kristian Iversen 30, 13 Patryk Dudek 29, 14 Mikkel Michelsen 27, 15 Gleb Chugunov 16, 16 Antonio Lindback 12, 17 Anders Thomsen 10, 18 Vaclav Milik 1, 19 Eduard Krcmar 1.
TORUN LINE-UP (in FIM ranking order with riding numbers): 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), 30 Leon Madsen (Denmark), 89 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia), 66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden), 54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 71 Maciej Janowski (Poland), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 692 Patryk Dudek (Poland), 55 Matej Zagar (Slovenia), 88 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 222 Artem Laguta (Russia), 85 Antonio Lindback (Sweden), 108 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain), 46 Max Fricke (Australia), 155 Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark), 16 Jack Holder (Australia – wild card), 17 Wiktor Trofymov (Poland – first track reserve), 18 Norbert Krakowiak (Poland – second track reserve).