Slovak star Martin Vaculik admits he’s pleased to get his mind back on the job after defying his ankle-injury battle to top the MIB Nordic Gorzow FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland podium on Saturday.
Vaculik, who won in Gorzow on his SGP debut in 2012, beat home hero Bartosz Zmarzlik, Tai Woffinden and Patryk Dudek in the final, swooping past his Gorzow team mate with an epic move on lap two.
The Zarnovica-born racer is celebrating his second final appearance of SGP 2018 after finishing fourth in Malilla on August 11, and he’s very much back on form after a painful start to 2018.
Vaculik was sidelined for two months when he suffered a badly broken ankle on his SGB Premiership debut for Leicester at Swindon on April 12.
With his tibia and talus bones piercing the skin, he required two operations lasting over 12 hours in total to fix the damage.
After completing an incredible turnaround to claim the third SGP win of his career, Vaculik admitted he was just happy to be able to give speedway his undivided attention again after months of rehab.
He said: “I am very happy. Always when sportsmen win, it is a fantastic feeling. I’m very happy I can now be 100 percent focused on racing and not other stuff. I’m just enjoying the moment and enjoying my racing. I’m enjoying everything. Every win is fantastic.
“I’m a Stal Gorzow rider and my experience from this track paid today. I’m very pleased about that.”
A Gorzow one-two was very popular at the Edward Jancarz Stadium, where both Vaculik and Zmarzlik star in the PGE Ekstraliga. Tonight’s winner admits he was inspired by the crescendo of noise a packed crowd generated. He said: “I would like to say thanks to all the fans in the stadium. They created a tremendous atmosphere and racing is front of this crowd is unbelievable.”
Zmarzlik was pleased to thrive in the pressure cooker of a home SGP and deliver second place.
He said: “For me it was such a very hard meeting because everybody said ‘you must win’, but there’s no ‘must’ – only ‘can’.
“Second place in my home GP is not so bad for me. I have maximum focus on the next round now and we’ll see what happens there. But this is a nice feeling. It’s unbelievable and I’ll see you in the next round in Krsko.”
Series leader Woffinden admits track conditions proved a leveller after a heavy rain shower shortly before the meeting. But he admits he has work to do ahead of the AZTORIN Slovenian SGP in Krsko on September 8 to ensure he stays on top of the world.
He said: “When it rains like that before the meeting, it really makes it a level playing field as far as anyone being faster than anyone else.
“The boys did well to sort the track out. I came into tonight with a 17-point lead and now I have a 16-point lead.
“I lost one point in the championship and didn’t win a race, so try and work that one out!?
“There are things I can work on. We need to go away, rethink and try and make some changes. But we’re looking good for the next round.”
The FIM Jury has decided to fine Maciej Janowski €2,000 for violent behaviour from one of his team members and Nicki Pedersen €300 for verbal, un-gentlemanly behaviour towards the FIM race director.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 103, 2 Bartosz Zmarzlik 87, 3 Maciej Janowski 79, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 76, 5 Patryk Dudek 68, 6 Greg Hancock 66, 7 Artem Laguta 66, 8 Emil Sayfutdinov 65, 9 Matej Zagar 61, 10 Jason Doyle 53, 11 Nicki Pedersen 52, 12 Chris Holder 43, 13 Martin Vaculik 35, 14 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 30, 15 Craig Cook 25, 16 Niels-Kristian Iversen 9, 17 Szymon Wozniak 8, 18 Krzysztof Kasprzak 7, 19 Andreas Jonsson 7, 20 Vaclav Milik 6, 21 Peter Ljung 5, 22 Michael Jepsen Jensen 4, 23 Oliver Berntzon 3, 24 Maksym Drabik 2, 25 Bartosz Smektala 2, 26 Robert Lambert 1, 27 Mikkel Michelsen 1, 28 Joel Kling 1.
MIB NORDIC GORZOW SGP SCORES: 1 Martin Vaculik 18, 2 Bartosz Zmarzlik 18, 3 Tai Woffinden 12, 4 Patryk Dudek 12, 5 Artem Laguta 13, 6 Matej Zagar 11, 7 Greg Hancock 10, 8 Maciej Janowski 9, 9 Jason Doyle 9, 10 Szymon Wozniak 8, 11 Nicki Pedersen 6, 12 Craig Cook 4, 13 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 14 Emil Sayfutdinov 3, 15 Fredrik Lindgren 2, 16 Chris Holder 0, 17 Wiktor Lampart DNR, 18 Rafal Karczmarz DNR.