An opportunist second lap move from Bartosz Zmarzlik secured the Polish star victory at the Slovenian FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Krsko on Saturday, with Martin Vaculik forced to settle for second.
Zmarzlik switched underneath initial race leader Vaculik on the second lap to secure his fourth Grand Prix win, and he consequently jumped to the top of the World Championship standings – level on points with compatriot Patryk Dudek.
The Gorzow racer dropped just two points on his way to a 13-point haul from his five heats, before booking a spot in the final when finishing second to Boll Warsaw FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland runner up Leon Madsen.
A hesitant start in the Grand Final from Madsen granted Martin Vaculik the lead in the evening’s final race. But Zmarzlik, who scored 10 points in the series’ opening round at the PGE Naradowy, switched lines on the second lap to take the lead.
Despite tasting his first victory since last year’s Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix, Zmarzlik failed to get too carried away by his efforts in Krsko. Instead, he has immediately channelled his focus on the ANLAS Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time in Prague.
Zmarzlik said: “I’m very happy, this place has been a little unlucky for me before. But I can leave here and head home very happy. Today was a different day for me.
“I’m starting with a different setup, and my starts are not bad. But this result is now history, and I’m looking forward to the next round in Prague.
“All the time I was looking at Martin Vaculik and thinking where he is likely to go. I wanted to make sure the bike was that little bit faster on the straight. Everything worked, and I’m very happy to pick up the win.”
Zmarzlik’s win has promoted him to the top of the World Championship standings, while Slovenian FIM Speedway Grand Prix runner up Martin Vaculik moved up to fourth after registering 17 points in Krsko.
Vaculik initially set the pace at the Stadion Matije Gubca. Two wins from his opening three heats meant he topped the standings after 12 heats.
But dropping a point to eventual winner Zmarzlik in heat 16 meant he concluded his five rides with 13 points. The Zielona Gora star rounded off his Slovenian campaign with second-placed finishes in Semi Final Two and the final itself.
Admitting that Zmarzlik held the upper hand throughout the evening, Vaculik expressed his delight by leaving Krsko with 17 points to his name.
He said: “Congratulations to Bartosz Zmarzlik, he was unbelievably fast tonight.
“I’m happy with how many points I registered, and I’m happy with second place too. I’m now looking forward to the next round and making sure that I deliver my best.
“Keeping focused is important to me.”
Elsewhere, Russian hope Emil Sayfutdinov jumped into the series’ top eight after doubling his Warsaw tally.
Despite missing out on a Grand Final spot, Sayfutdinov totalled 12 points from his five qualifying rides before finishing Semi Final Two in third behind Patryk Dudek and Martin Vaculik.
Tai Woffinden was another rider to improve on his form from Warsaw. The Scunthorpe-born three-times World Champion scored nine points to move up to eighth in the standings with 15 points – level with British compatriot Robert Lambert.
The series now moves onto its third round in two weeks’ time as Prague’s Marketa Stadium hosts the ANLAS Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 28, 2 Patryk Dudek 28, 3 Leon Madsen 26, 4 Martin Vaculik 24, 5 Niels-Kristian Iversen 21, 6 Fredrik Lindgren 20, 7 Emil Sayfutdinov 19, 8 Tai Woffinden 15, 9 Robert Lambert 15, 10 Artem Laguta 13, 11 Matej Zagar 13, 12 Antonio Lindback 13, 13 Jason Doyle 11, 14 Janusz Kolodziej 11, 15 Bartosz Smektala 10, 16 Maciej Janowski 4, 17 Max Fricke 3, 18 Matic Ivacic 2.
FIM SLOVENIAN SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX RESULT: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 18, 2 Martin Vaculik 17, 3 Leon Madsen 13, 4 Patryk Dudek 12, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 13, 6 Tai Woffinden 9, 7 Artem Laguta 9, 8 Robert Lambert 7, 9 Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, 10 Janusz Kolodziej 7, 11 Jason Doyle 6, 12 Matej Zagar 6, 13 Fredrik Lindgren 5, 14 Maciej Janowski 4, 15 Antonio Lindback 3, 16 Matic Ivacic 2, 17 Nick Skorja 0.