World champion Bartosz Zmarzlik was elated to break his Prague jinx after storming top of the FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship with victory in Visit Czech Republic SGP round five on Friday.
Zmarzlik arrived at Marketa Stadium having reached just one semi-final in four appearances at the Czech capital track.
But after battling to a strong 11 points in the heats, he won a semi-final showdown with Tai Woffinden after Jason Doyle and Leon Madsen were both excluded for moving at the start.
He then topped the podium after beating three-time Prague winner Woffinden, Slovak star Martin Vaculik and Russian racer Emil Sayfutdinov in the final.
Zmarzlik’s victory and 20 championship points saw him overhaul Fredrik Lindgren for top spot in the SGP standings on 79, with the Swedish ace in hot pursuit on 78 after scoring 12 points for finishing fifth in the meeting.
Victory in Prague was a huge moment for Zmarzlik after missing out on the Czech SGP semi-finals on his last three appearances at Marketa Stadium.
He said: “I am very happy. This is the first time in my career I have won in Prague. For me, that is very nice because the previous rounds here have been a big problem. The most I have scored recently is eight points, which is not such a good result.
“What a special meeting today! The first two races were not so bad, but after that the setup changed and my bike wasn’t working so well. But after the last heat, it was better and I am very happy. I would like to say a big thank you to the Polish fans and everyone. This is for you.”
Zmarzlik lines up in Aztorin SGP round six on Saturday night – the record-breaking 25th SGP event to be staged in Prague.
So the Pole insists there will be little time to celebrate his eighth SGP win. He said: “Today I have won and I am very happy of course. But now this is history and I am looking at what will happen tomorrow.”
Nine of the last 16 Prague winners have gone on to be crowned world champion in the same season.
Zmarzlik would love to keep that run going and is pleased to top the World Championship standings once again.
But the grounded 26-year-old isn’t getting ahead of himself. He said: “I am happy, but we will see what happens. There’s a lot of work in front of me. Now I must go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 79, 2 Fredrik Lindgren 78, 3 Tai Woffinden 71, 4 Maciej Janowski 62, 5 Leon Madsen 59, 6 Artem Laguta 55, 7 Jason Doyle 53, 8 Martin Vaculik 51, 9 Emil Sayfutdinov 50, 10 Max Fricke 32, 11 Matej Zagar 30, 12 Niels-Kristian Iversen 28, 13 Mikkel Michelsen 24, 14 Patryk Dudek 23, 15 Gleb Chugunov 16, 16 Anders Thomsen 10, 17 Antonio Lindback 8, 18 Eduard Krcmar 1.
VISIT CZECH REPUBLIC SGP ROUND FIVE POINTS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 20, 2 Tai Woffinden 18, 3 Martin Vaculik 16, 4 Tai Woffinden 14, 5 Fredrik Lindgren 12, 6 Jason Doyle 11, 7 Artem Laguta 10, 8 Leon Madsen 9, 9 Max Fricke 8, 10 Patryk Dudek 7, 11 Mikkel Michelsen 6, 12 Maciej Janowski 5, 13 Niels-Kristian Iversen 4, 14 Matej Zagar 3, 15 Antonio Lindback 2, 16 Eduard Krcmar 1, 17 Vaclav Milik 0, 18 Jan Kvech 0.