SWEDISH STAR LINDGREN READY FOR SPEEDWAY GP TITLE SHOWDOWN WITH ZMARZLIK IN TORUN
Swedish star Fredrik Lindgren insists he’s ready to “put everything on the line” as he bids to realise his dream of becoming Speedway GP world champion in Torun on Saturday night.
The stakes are high as the DeWalt FIM Speedway GP of Torun – Poland brings the curtain down on the 2023 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series, with Polish icon Bartosz Zmarzlik bidding to become only the seventh rider in speedway history to win four or more world titles.
But Zmarzlik’s 24-point lead ahead of the DeluxeHomeart FIM Speedway GP of Denmark – Vojens on September 16 shrunk to just six after he was disqualified from the event by the FIM Jury for wearing a race suit, which didn’t comply with the Speedway GP regulations during Qualifying Practice.
With Lindgren taking second place in Vojens, scoring 18 championship points, he is now on 132 – hot on the heels of Zmarzlik, who has 138.
Lindgren has a golden opportunity to become Sweden’s first world champion since the legendary Tony Rickardsson won his sixth and final title in 2005 – 18 years ago.
The Orebro-born racer must score seven championship points more than Zmarzlik to become Speedway GP world champion, or six to force a run-off for the gold medal. But if Zmarzlik finishes on the Torun podium, outscores Lindgren or finishes within five points of the Swede, he will retain the Speedway GP crown he previously lifted in 2019, 2020 and 2022.
Aside from round four in Teterow, Germany, Lindgren has scored double figures in every Speedway GP event this season, registering eight semi-final appearances and seven finals across nine rounds. But the 38-year-old is determined to bring his very best form on the biggest night of his career so far.
He said: “I have been pretty good all year I feel. I had one slip-up in Teterow, scoring five points, but I have raced well in the rest. I feel in good form, and I will put everything on the line in the last round.
“I just have to go there, focus and do the best I can. Whatever happens, I will be proud of myself. I am six points down and it’s not easy to get that back. I can only do the best I can, and we will see where we end up.”
FIM Speedway global ambassador Rickardsson is expecting an exciting showdown for the gold medal as Lindgren bids to become the first Swede since the six-time champion retired to lift speedway’s biggest prize.
“He has nothing to lose really,” Rickardsson said. “From Freddie’s point of view, he just has everything to win in Torun. That’s sometimes a lot easier as a rider compared to what Zmarzlik has to do.
“Of course, Zmarzlik is already defending the title, but he had it in the bag and suddenly there was a hole in the bag, the title fell out of it, and they are racing for it again. Who would have thought that a couple of weeks back?!
“I am sure Freddie will just go there to put himself in the best position possible and try to win the meeting. That’s what he has to do. Then he just has to hope Zmarzlik doesn’t make the final.
“This is the opportunity he has been waiting for and Freddie has had a long, tough career. I think he is just going to go for it. Who knows? I think he has a pretty good chance actually.”
It isn’t just the Speedway GP World Championship on the line as Slovakia’s Martin Vaculik and Australia’s Jack Holder are deadlocked on 113 points in third and fourth places respectively, with Vaculik ranked higher by virtue of his two Speedway GP wins in Prague and Cardiff.
Whoever finishes highest in the DeWalt FIM Torun Speedway GP classification out of Vaculik and Holder will be certain of bagging the bronze medal, provided they score at least six championship points.
Holder jetted from Australia to watch older brother Chris win 2012 Speedway GP World Championship gold, and now the 2023 Australian champion hopes to win a medal of his own.
He said: “The last couple of GPs have been good, so it all comes down to Torun. Martin and I are even going to Torun and may the best man get third. I will just go in there and do what I normally do. I wish I was fighting for the gold medal, but any medal is good to me. We will push hard.”
The fact Holder is level on points with Vaculik is some feat after he missed round seven in Riga due to a broken wrist, suffered in the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final in Wroclaw on July 29.
Holder has since fought back with a second place on his return in Cardiff on September 2 and a third in Vojens. But there’s no doubt sitting out the Riga round hurt.
“It was definitely hard to watch,” he said. “But I did everything I could to come back as fast as possible. I did that and scored good points in Cardiff and good points again in Vojens.”
The battle for 2023 Speedway GP qualification is also intense. Both Zmarzlik and Lindgren are guaranteed to finish in the Speedway GP World Championship’s top six, which secures them a place in the 2024 series.
Aussie star Jason Doyle of Australia, Vaculik and Poland’s Szymon Wozniak are guaranteed to join them after reaching the rostrum at the FIM GP Challenge in Gislaved, Sweden on August 19 – the last round of the 2024 SGP qualifiers.
Holder only needs three championship points to be certain of qualification for next term, but the race for the final two qualification places is set to be fiercely contested, with Britain’s Dan Bewley fifth on 98 and his compatriot Robert Lambert sixth on 97.
Seventh-placed Leon Madsen on 95 will fancy his chances of breaking into the top six on a Torun track where he topped the podium with a seven-ride maximum in 2019.
If Vaculik holds his top six spot, the qualification place he earned at the FIM GP Challenge will pass to Lambert, who finished fourth in the Challenge.
But if Lambert or eighth-placed Doyle join Vaculik in the top six, a qualification place passes to Czech rider Jan Kvech – fifth in the Challenge – who will become his country’s first full-time Speedway GP rider since Lukas Dryml competed in 2008.
If Vaculik, Lambert and Doyle all finish inside the 2023 Speedway GP top six, a qualification place will be handed to Poland’s Przemyslaw Pawlicki, who was sixth in the Challenge. He would return to the series for the first time since 2018.
The 2024 Speedway GP line-up will be completed by five permanent wild cards, selected by the SGP Commission.
2023 DeWALT FIM SPEEDWAY GP OF POLAND - TORUN LINE-UP (in FIM ranking order with rider numbers): 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), 30 Leon Madsen (Denmark), 29 Andzejs Lebedevs (Latvia – substitute for 71 Maciej Janowski), 66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden), 505 Robert Lambert (Great Britain), 99 Dan Bewley (Great Britain), 692 Patryk Dudek (Poland), 744 Kai Huckenbeck (Germany – substitute for 108 Tai Woffinden), 54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 155 Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark), 25 Jack Holder (Australia), 46 Max Fricke (Australia), 22 Luke Becker (United States – substitute for 105 Anders Thomsen), 233 Kim Nilsson (Sweden), 16 Dominik Kubera (Poland – wild card), 17 Mateusz Cierniak (Poland – first track reserve), 18 Bartlomiej Kowalski (Poland – second track reserve).
Fans can enjoy a huge afternoon of entertainment in the DeWalt FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Torun fanzone – located next to the stadium behind bends three and four and close to the main car park entrance.
The action gets underway at 12:30 local time, with Speedway GP Qualifying Practice getting started at 13:00. Fans can watch the action live at trackside simply by purchasing an event programme to gain admission.
The Speedway GP trophy will be on display for fans to take pictures with. There will also be vintage bike displays, attractions for kids, plenty of entertainment in the Monster Energy Zone, plus Speedway GP and rider merchandise available for purchase.
There will be an MX Jumps Show at 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 18:00, and fans can grab a selfie with official FIM Speedway mascot Speedy at 14:45 and 18:00.
Monster Energy athlete and former Speedway GP world champion Chris Holder will be cranking up the volume with a burnout at 15:45, before Fredrik Lindgren, Dan Bewley, Patryk Dudek and Jack Holder join him for the Monster Energy Rig Riot from 16:00.
This will be followed by our Speedway GP rider autograph session, featuring all 18 riders, from 16:30.
Chris Holder will be back on stage from 17:15 alongside fellow former Torun favourites Jan Zabik and Adrian Miedzinski for a special Q&A session.
Fans can win Speedway GP prizes in our quizzes on the big screen at 15:15 and 17:45, before the action switches to the Marian Rose Motoarena for a huge night of racing.
WHERE TO WATCH
DeWalt FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Torun – Saturday, September 30 at 19:00 CET
Fans with access to discovery+ or the Eurosport App, available in selected countries, can enjoy full live coverage of all the FIM Speedway action, featuring Qualifying Practice, plus all the build-up from the pits and reaction after the chequered flag falls, as well as the very best coverage of the racing including pit and on-board cameras and rider reaction times.
Coverage of Speedway GP is available worldwide with linear coverage of the racing also available in selected countries – see below for more details of where to watch.
Fans can also get live results throughout the Speedway GP via the official FIM Speedway app. Download it now on the App Store or Google Play.
ACROSS EUROPE: Live on the Eurosport App
BRITAIN: Live on discovery+, Eurosport 2 and the Eurosport App
POLAND: Live on TTV and Eurosport Extra in Player
SWEDEN: Live on discovery+ and the Eurosport App
DENMARK: Live on 6’eren, discovery+ and the Eurosport App
AUSTRALIA: Live on Fox Sports (Kayo)
NEW ZEALAND: Live on Speedway GP YouTube
USA/CANADA: Live on Speedway GP YouTube
GERMANY: Live on discovery+ and the Eurosport App
ACROSS THE BALTICS: Live on discovery+, Eurosport App, Go3 and TV3 Sport channels
CZECH REP: Live on the Eurosport App
SLOVAKIA: Live on the Eurosport App and RTVS
CROATIA: Live on the Eurosport App
AUSTRIA: Live on discovery+ and the Eurosport App
NORWAY: Live on discovery+
FINLAND: Live on discovery+
ARGENTINA: Live on Speedway GP YouTube
ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN: Live on SportsMax
ACROSS AFRICA: Live on SuperSport
ACROSS ASIA: Live on beINSPORTS
REST OF THE WORLD: Live on Speedway GP YouTube