HOLDER UP FOR TITLE FIGHT

28/05/2024

HOLDER UP FOR TITLE FIGHTHOLDER UP FOR TITLE FIGHT

Aussie racer Jack Holder insists he’s ready to take the World Championship fight to Lublin teammate Bartosz Zmarzlik as they prepare for the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic – Prague this Saturday.

Holder broke Zmarzlik’s two-year run at the top of the standings when he won the series-opening Boll FIM Speedway GP of Croatia on April 27, before exiting the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw at the semi-final stage with 12 championship points.

The Sheffield rider was looking set to regain the lead at the Trans MF FIM Speedway GP of Germany – Landshut on May 18, but Zmarzlik passed Holder for second place in the closing stages and the Pole heads to Prague with a two-point advantage over his rival at the top of the standings.

Holder made rapid steps forward in the sport when he spent the 2020 season racing with Zmarzlik at Polish club Gorzow, before his fortunes surged again when they reunited at PGE Ekstraliga champions Lublin in 2023, helping the club retain its title.

While they are clearly effective teammates, it’s every man for himself in Speedway GP and Holder relishes the prospect of a title showdown with Zmarzlik, who is chasing his fifth Speedway GP gold medal and a record-equalling third on the bounce.

Holder said: “I hope he is ready. I’m ready. He has been on top form for many years – he isn’t a four-time world champion for no reason.

“I have raced him in World Under-21 Championships, and he has beaten me in all of them, and in the GPs too. But thanks to him because it has picked up my level. I want to beat him; everyone does. The target is on his back.”

Holder admits it was his turn to feel the pressure in Warsaw after taking his maiden Speedway GP victory in Croatia.

He said: “Winning the first one was amazing, but then all eyes were on me for the second one. That was probably the hardest GP for me – with all the pressure and people wanting to see if it was a fluke. I should have been in the final in Warsaw, but I got done on the line in the semis. It just adds fuel to the belly, though.”

Holder took third place in a hectic Landshut final, which he threatened to win as a hunted down race leader Mikkel Michelsen. He was gutted to see second slip away as Zmarzlik pipped him to the 18-point prize with a late challenge.

He said: “I was chasing Mikkel down and watching what he was doing and, the next minute, Bartek was there. We had a good race to the line again. I need to stop making a habit of that – racing to the line. But if you had offered me third place before the meeting, I would have taken your arm off.”