Danish star Leon Madsen insisted that if he’s going to win the Speedway GP World Championship “it’s going to be in 2024” as he bids to dethrone long-time rival Bartosz Zmarzlik.

Madsen heads into Saturday’s Boll FIM Speedway GP of Croatia bidding to end Zmarzlik’s lengthy stay atop the World Championship standings, which stretches back to his win at the season-opener in Donji Kraljevec two years ago on April 30, 2022.

The Czestochowa and Vojens rider enjoyed a fine finish to 2023, which saw him storm to a famous victory on home shale at the FIM Speedway GP of Denmark – Vojens, before he took third place at the final round in Torun.

Taking 36 points from a possible 40 in the final two SGPs was a sensational finish to the season, but Madsen knows he would need to replicate that level over 11 rounds if he is to challenge Zmarzlik and surpass the two Speedway GP silver medals he won in 2019 and 2022.

Asked what it will take to unseat the Pole as champion, Madsen said: “We just have to step up, be better and not have any off-days. That’s really the main key to it; being consistent all the way through the season.

“A guy like (2021 Speedway GP world champion) Artem (Laguta) proved that if you can be stable and deliver at the top level at every GP round, then you can beat him.

“You have to be really, really, really good to win the World Championship, even without Bartek in it. There is a lot of hard competition and a lot of good riders in it. It’s not only Bartek. But with Bartek in the GPs, you have to be extremely good to beat him and win the title.

“But mark my words; if Leon is going to win the World Championship, it’s going to be in 2024.”

Madsen’s confidence stems from a drastic upturn in performance in 2023 after he struggled to two championship points at round eight in Cardiff, before bouncing back with victory in Vojens.

“We finished off on a high,” he said. “I plan to take that with me into the new season. I am continuing with the same equipment that we know is working.

“We were testing a lot last year and trying to maybe develop the template with the engines, and it just went in the wrong direction. We kept trying to make it work for too long. Then you start to get the bad results and it affects your confidence. It went as low as it could get in Cardiff.

“After that, I knew it was time to make some big changes. We did that coming into Vojens and we saw the results of that. I moved on to Torun and, again, it was a good result. That gives me a lot of confidence, knowing the equipment is working. I believe in that and with the mental state I am in, I believe I will be up there in the top mix.”

When some riders struggle, they are quick to change equipment or engine tuner in a desperate bid to transform their fortunes. Madsen has no regrets about sticking with Danish engineer Brian Karger and believes they have now found a winning formula.

“I think it’s a big advantage that I have Brian with me,” he said. “I am working closely with him, and he supports me in the pits at the GPs. I believe Karger is the best tuner in the world. He has proved that in the past, winning several World Championships.

“We were trying something last season and we did it for too long. Now we are back to what we know is working. This season, we are not going to test anything. Now it’s up to the man on the bike.

“I don’t say things can’t be better, but I don’t want to worry about it. I know the equipment I have now is good enough to win. It’s good enough to win GPs and be fighting at the top.”