DUDEK’S EURO TITLE QUEST

PAUL BURBIDGE

Polish star Patryk Dudek is keen to capitalise on an extra chance to secure 2023 FIM Speedway Grand Prix qualification as he goes for Speedway European Championship gold.

Dudek returns to the Speedway GP line up after finishing third at the GP Challenge in Zarnovica last August, and he will be going for glory in both the World and European Championships this season.

Since 2020, the SEC champion has been guaranteed a place in the following season’s Speedway GP series – meaning Dudek has an added chance to book his spot in the 2023 World Championship.

Great Britain star Robert Lambert won the European title in 2020 to secure qualification for 2021, and Denmark’s Mikkel Michelsen lifted his second European title last summer to seal a spot in Speedway GP for 2022.

Dudek took third place in last season’s SEC series after winning a run-off for the bronze medal with fellow countryman Piotr Pawlicki.

It was his first year in the competition since 2014, and he admits the stakes are now much higher. He told SpeedwayEuro.com: “The first place gives us promotion to the SGP series. The prestige of the European Championships is greater than it was a few years ago. The value of these tournaments is higher, because of the fact that you can become a permanent participant of Speedway Grand Prix.”

Aside from that added bonus, Dudek is keen to add the SEC title to his CV. He said: “My medal collection does not include gold, so I will fight for the highest place. I hope that I will be in good shape and 100 percent healthy for the finals.

“Last year, before the round in Bydgoszcz, I had a serious crash in Sweden. During the last chance heat in Bydgoszcz, my engine failed, so you can say that I didn’t start the series well. In Rybnik, I had to chase the others so the third place was very satisfying.”

Dudek’s SEC quest starts at Polish track Rybnik on July 2, before the action moves to German venue Gustrow on August 6. Polish club Lodz stages round three on September 3, with the title decider taking place on the famous Golden Helmet weekend at Czech circuit Pardubice on September 23.

The last two SEC series have been staged over one month as the pandemic forced organisers to condense the schedule.

With the four rounds now taking place over three months, a bad few weeks for a rider may not spell an end to their title hopes.

Asked whether he prefers racing the SEC series over one month or three, Dudek replied: “It is hard to judge. It is a difficult question. I know from the perspective of the rider that some can hit in a good month of form and then everything works out for them, and then they can hit a crisis at the end of the season.

“On the other hand, when the series is three months long, you can make a mistake, but later you can jump up to a high level and make up the loss. We try to adapt. Someone can struggle all month with issues, and it often happens that when it’s warmer, some riders are a bit worse at adjusting settings. It can also be the other way.”

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