World No.3 Fredrik Lindgren hailed selfless Sweden team mate Peter Ljung for handing him all the best gates as they joined forces to take their country through to the Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Finals.
Lindgren romped to an 18-point maximum as Sweden topped the scorechart on 25 points at Race Off 1 in Landshut on Saturday night, with Poland scoring 24 to join them in the Finals in Togliatti on July 20 and 21.
Germany also advance to Russia after Martin Smolinski and Kai Huckenbeck achieved a 3-3 behind Czech rider Vaclav Milik in the final knock-out race. With the Germans finishing third in the heat scorechart on 20 and the Czechs fourth on 19, the hosts made it through.
While Fast Freddie’s heroics were pivotal to Sweden’s success, he knows he couldn’t have led his country to victory without Ljung’s six-point haul and one from under-21 rider Filip Hjelmland.
Lindgren may have been in red-hot form, but he admits Ljung’s decision to let him start every race from gate one or two made a huge difference as the Vastervik man bagged his points the hard way.
“We are very satisfied with this performance,” Lindgren said. “We are happy to go straight through to Russia for the Finals. It’s a tough meeting. You can’t afford to make any mistakes. That was a job well done.
“It’s a team effort because Peter gave me the inside gates. He didn’t really feel comfortable in the beginning and I said to him he should maybe try the inside gates to get going.
“But he wanted us to at least get the heat win and I have to give it up to him. It’s a team effort and we did a good job together.”
Polish star Bartosz Zmarzlik was delighted to power his side through to Togliatti as he joined forces with Patryk Dudek, who was only drafted in the 11th hour when Maciej Janowski withdrew due to a shoulder ligament injury.
He said: “I am very happy because Poland took the next step and we’re through to the Finals in Togliatti. Second place is not so bad and we were very close to the win against Sweden.
“Patryk did a very good job for the Poland team, but I’d like to say hello to Magic and we keep our fingers crossed he will come back to the track soon.
“This meeting wasn’t bad for me and I am happy. But in Togliatti we have two days and we will see what happens. There are two months to go.”
German ace Martin Smolinski was delighted to see his side reach their second straight world final in front of a passionate home crowd in Landshut.
He said: “It’s job done – it’s very nice. It’s always nice to get to the next round in front of the home crowd. We had a very good team performance I think. Every one of us scored some good points.
“We showed how good German speedway is at a very good venue. We had a lot of rain in the afternoon, but the track guys worked very well and I think we saw some very nice racing out there.”
The Monster Energy SON now moves to Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium for Race Off 2 next Saturday, as Great Britain tackle Australia, Denmark, USA, France, Finland and Latvia.
MONSTER ENERGY SON RACE OFF 1 SCORES:
SWEDEN 25: 1 Fredrik Lindgren 18, 2 Peter Ljung 6, 3 Peter Hjelmland 1.
POLAND 24: 1 Patryk Dudek 7, 2 Bartosz Zmarzlik 15, 3 Bartosz Smektala 2.
GERMANY 20: 1 Kai Huckenbeck 8, 2 Martin Smolinski 11, 3 Michael Hartel 1.
CZECH REPUBLIC 19: 1 Vaclav Milik 16, 2 Eduard Krcmar 2, 3 Jan Kvech 1.
SLOVENIA 19: 1 Matej Zagar 13, 2 Matic Ivacic 4, 3 Nick Skorja 2.
UKRAINE 10: 1 Andrii Rozaliuk 0, 2 Stanislav Melnychuk 8, 3 Marko Levishyn 0.
ITALY 9: 1 Nicolas Covatti 9, 2 Paco Castagna 0, 3 Michele Menani 0.