ELITSERIEN | LINDGREN STARS AS VASTERVIK TAME LIONS

Swedish star Freddie Lindgren raced to 13 paid 14 points on his Bauhaus Elitserien return for Vastervik as they thumped a power-packed Lejonen side 58-32 in their opening league match on Tuesday evening.Lindgren was only drafted into the side as a late replacement for injured Aussie ace Chris Holder, and it’s unclear how many meetings he will take part in as he aims to race a lighter schedule in 2023.But Vastervik may be pushing to hang on to Fast Freddie for as long as possible after he dropped just one point to an opponent over five rides.He was well supported by 11 points from triple world champion Tai Woffinden and Poland’s Bartosz Smektala, with Gleb Chugunov adding eight paid 11.Poland’s three-time world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik was Lejonen’s top scorer on 13 points, with Dominik Kubera tallying 10.Elsewhere, Great Britain star Robert Lambert raced to a sensational 17 points for Smederna, but it was not enough to save them from a 49-41 loss away to Rospiggarna.Finnish international Timo Lahti led the hosts to victory on 14, with Speedway GP star Kim Nilsson notching nine and German racer Kai Huckenbeck collecting eight paid nine.Lambert was aided by a 10 paid 11-point return from Denmark’s Michael Jepsen Jensen, while Jaimon Lidsey collected eight paid nine.In the day’s other meeting, a 13-point haul from Aussie star Jason Doyle couldn’t save Indianerna from a 46-44 loss at home to Piraterna.Polish pair Oskar Fajfer and Piotr Pawlicki led the Pirates to victory, scoring 10 paid 11 and 10 points respectively, while Przemyslaw Pawlicki collected nine paid 11 and Vaclav Milik added eight paid nine.Doyle’s main support came from former Polish champion Szymon Wozniak, who scored 12 paid 14.

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LINDGREN ANSWERS VASTERVIK SOS FOR ELITSERIEN OPENER

Speedway GP star Freddie Lindgren admits he couldn’t ignore a call for help from Swedish side Vastervik as he returns to the Bauhaus Elitserien for their season opener at home to 2022 play-off finalists Lejonen tonight.Fast Freddie originally stood down from Sweden’s top flight for this year, opting to focus on his Speedway GP and PGE Ekstraliga commitments for Lublin as he steps up his recovery from three years blighted by long Covid.But Lindgren’s 2022 side Vastervik found themselves a star short on the eve of the season when Aussie ace Chris Holder suffered spinal injuries in Leszno’s visit to Grudziadz on April 23.When Vastervik and Swedish national boss Morgan Andersson put in a call to Lindgren, the Orebro-born racer was only too happy to respond – stepping in for at least their opening three matches.He told the club’s website: “For my part, I felt early on that if Morgan and Västervik got in touch and needed my help due to Chris Holder's injury for a few occasions, I would review that possibility from our side.“As I previously said, I loved riding for Västervik and the choice to forgo the Swedish league this year had nothing to do with our relationship. It was just that the team and I needed to create a schedule with fewer trips for me in 2023.“Now I return ‘home’ to Västervik to try and make as good an effort as I can during their first three meetings. We will then see what the future holds. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Västervik again! See you there!”Lindgren made a strong opening to his SGP season, finishing third and collecting 16 championship points at the Tehnix FIM Speedway GP of Croatia last Saturday.He nearly didn’t make the semi-final cut after scoring eight race points from five rides, leaving him deadlocked with Jack Holder and Max Fricke for the last spot in the top eight.With all three boasting a win, two seconds, a third and a last, they could not be separated on countback. Holder beat Lindgren, Lindgren defeated Fricke and Fricke got the better of Holder, meaning even their head-to-head record couldn’t separate them.This meant Lindgren progressed, purely because he had the best FIM ranking after finishing fourth in 2022, with Holder 12th and Fricke 13th.Lindgren had a long and nervous wait before his progression was confirmed. “It seemed like no-one could decide,” he said. “Or at least they took a long time. "When it’s equal on countback and we beat each other, it’s the highest ranked guy from last year who gets it, and that was me. That’s just a fact.”Incredibly, Lindgren defied the graveyard white gate to overhaul Tai Woffinden for second place in semi-final two and take his place in the final.“I thought white wasn’t too bad,” he said. “They were all pretty tricky. Yellow was a little bit tacky and good. I’d had white two times previously and had prepared a game plan to try and get in the dirt on the first lap.“Luckily for me, Woffy came in a bit hot in turn three. I rode a really tight corner, I think I rode where no-one else had ridden, got some grip, hit a rut and passed him, so I did right.”Lindgren snatches second from WoffyLindgren may be the only rider to have raced in every FIM Croatian Speedway GP, reaching the final three times, but he insists that doesn’t make him an expert on the Donji Kraljevec track.“I had a shocking one here last year,” he said. “Saturday was tricky for everyone. We had the rain and I had gate one for my first ride, which was good. But I completely missed it and got clamped by Robert. I got a zero from that, so it was an uphill battle all the way.“After my second heat, I opened a can of Monster, got some energy and got into the semi-final.”

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PEDERSEN: 2023 INJURIES FORCED ME OUT AT KROSNO

Triple world champion Nicki Pedersen insists it was the back injury he suffered at Peterborough in March that forced him out of Grudziadz’s trip to Krosno on Sunday afternoon – not further problems with his pelvis.Pedersen’s 2022 season was ended by a badly broken hip and pelvis – injuries which could have halted the 46-year-old’s career and saw him undergo surgery in both Poland and Denmark.Incredibly, he made a full recovery and got back on track in time for the new PGE Ekstraliga season. But the Danish team manager suffered a heavy blow to his back when he made his Peterborough debut against Ipswich on March 27.The injury prompted him to opt out of the UK, and Pedersen called an end to his meeting at Krosno, admitting he couldn’t cope with the heavy track conditions.But the Danish team manager, who was keeping a close eye on his national-team riders in the pits at the Tehnix FIM Speedway GP of Croatia last Saturday, insists the problem is not the injuries he picked up last year. Posting on Facebook, he wrote: “My pelvis that I broke and the injury I sustained back in June 2022 has actually been fine – no problem with this. “But after having yet another crash in Peterborough in March, I still have severe pain in my back. When the track is very heavy, I struggle to be strong and flexible enough in my back and leg. My pain is just too much.“That's why I had to withdraw from the meeting last night. Fortunately, tracks are usually in really good condition around the pole line and well prepared.“But Krosno is a newly promoted club to the Ekstraliga. They have had new stands built over the winter and they have had a lot of heavy vehicles driving on the track, so they have therefore not been able to get the track well prepared and packed yet. “There has not been enough heat in the weather yet for this, but I wonder if it will get better now that summer is on its way.  I'm going to have to fight back with strength to these kinds of challenging tracks that I've raced on before.”

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EKSTRALIGA | MAGIC STARS AS WROCLAW HOLD ON FOR VICTORY

Polish racer Maciej Janowski roared back into form with 11 paid 13 points for Wroclaw as they held on for a 46-44 win at home to Czestochowa in the PGE Ekstraliga on Sunday.Magic endured a difficult night in the series-opening Tehnix FIM Speedway GP of Croatia, leaving with just three championship points.But he bounced back in his home city, joining forces with Speedway GP rival Dan Bewley to grab a match-winning 3-3 behind Czestochowa’s former Wroclaw rider Maksym Drabik in heat 15.Bewley collected 11 points, while 2021 Speedway GP world champion Artem Laguta added eight and Great Britain star Tai Woffinden scored four paid five.The margin of victory could have been more, but Polish star Piotr Pawlicki was controversially booted out of heat five by referee Pawel Slupski following a crash for Lions’ Kacper Woryna. Pawlicki still scored six paid seven.Drabik raced to 13 paid 14 for Czestochowa on his old home track, while Mikkel Michelsen tallied 10 and Leon Madsen scored seven paid eight.In the day’s other meeting, Czech charger Vaclav Milik racked up 13 paid 14 points for Krosno as they defeated visitors Grudziadz 49-41.Milik was backed up by 10 paid 12 points from 2017 Speedway GP world champion Jason Doyle and 10 from Latvian star Andzejs Lebedevs. Aussie star Max Fricke was Grudziadz’s top performer on nine paid 10, but the club’s victory hopes were dashed when triple world champion Nicki Pedersen withdrew from the meeting after two rides, reportedly feeling the effects of his 2022 injuries on a reportedly difficult track.For full details of the day’s results, scorers and the latest league table, click HERE (link in Polish).

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POLAND’S ZMARZLIK ZOOMS TO SECOND STRAIGHT FIM CROATIAN SPEEDWAY GP VICTORY

Poland’s triple world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik hailed his crew for helping him turn his night around as he defied a starting slip-up to storm to his second straight Tehnix FIM Speedway GP of Croatia win on Saturday. Zmarzlik launched his title defence in fine style as he powered to victory in the final ahead of Great Britain racer Robert Lambert and Swedish star Fredrik Lindgren after Aussie ace Jason Doyle failed to capitalise on a stunning start, crashing on the first corner. This allowed Zmarzlik to make it back-to-back wins at the Speedway Stadion Milenium, where he topped the podium on April 30, 2022. The Lublin and Lejonen rider suffered the blow of being excluded from his second race in heat five but bounced back to cruise into the semi-finals on 10 race points, before celebrating his 19th Speedway GP win. A delighted Zmarzlik, who raced successive PGE Ekstraliga meetings for Polish club Lublin on Thursday and Friday, was delighted to end a busy run of racing by topping the 2023 Speedway GP World Championship. He said: “I am really happy. It was a hard weekend for me. We didn’t have everything working the best, but thanks to my boys for doing a really good job. I made the final and by the final, I was feeling much better.” Zmarzlik insists his starting exclusion didn’t break his concentration after his desire to make a fast start from the tricky gate three backfired. He said: “When I thought about gate three in this moment, I wanted to make a really good start. But nothing changed after that. I was very calm. I was just waiting for my next heat so that I could show my best.” Next up for Zmarzlik and his rivals is the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw in front of a packed PGE Narodowy on May 13. Zmarzlik is still chasing his first Warsaw final and victory, and he looks forward to battling for his points. He said: “Warsaw is a great place for the Polish riders, and I will just fight again there.” Heavy rain ahead of racing left riders battling to adapt to track conditions, but runner-up Lambert believes it helped him as he reached his third Speedway GP podium. He said: “I was not so fast in Qualifying Practice. I think the rain helped me a little bit. The track came to me. “In the final, I didn’t really make the best of starts. There was a bit of carnage on the first corner with Doyley going wide. A lot of guys didn’t know where to go and I was waiting for a red light that didn’t come. I made a move and managed to hold off Freddie, even though he was buzzing behind me.” Lambert is still chasing his first Speedway GP win. After two second places, he believes he is edging ever closer. He said: “I am working hard to take this next step. For sure it will come in the future. There are a few more steps to come and I want to enjoy the moment of racing in this series.” Third-placed Lindgren only qualified for the semi-finals by virtue of fourth place in the 2022 Speedway GP series, ranking him ahead of Aussie duo Jack Holder (12th) and Max Fricke (13th) after they tied on eight points and could not be separated on countback in the race for the last semi spot. After a nervous wait for confirmation that he had qualified for the semis, Lindgren was pleased to capitalise and collect 16 championship points. He said: “It seemed like no-one could decide – or at least they took a long time. When it’s equal on countback and we beat each other, it’s the highest ranked guy from last year who got it, and that was me.” Lindgren also took advantage of a mistake from British star Tai Woffinden in semi-final two to snatch second place and reach the final. He said: “Luckily for me, Woffy came in a bit hot in turn three. I rode a really tight corner, rode where no-one else had ridden, got some grip and passed him, so I did right there.” SPEEDWAY GP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 20, 2 Robert Lambert 18, 3 Fredrik Lindgren 16, 4 Jason Doyle 14, 5 Tai Woffinden 12, 6 Mikkel Michelsen 11, 7 Dan Bewley 10, 8 Martin Vaculik 9, 9 Jack Holder 8, 10 Max Fricke 7, 11 Patryk Dudek 6, 12 Anders Thomsen 5, 13 Leon Madsen 4, 14 Maciej Janowski 3, 15 Kim Nilsson 2, 16 Matej Zagar 1.  

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