EKSTRALIGA | ZMARZLIK HITS HEROIC 19 AS GORZOW KEEPS IT CLOSE IN TORUN

Double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik zoomed to an heroic 19 points as Gorzow defied the absence of both Martin Vaculik and Anders Thomsen to lose 46-44 at Torun in the PGE Ekstraliga play-off quarter final, first leg. With Vaculik still recovering from a broken shoulder blade and Thomsen sustaining a badly broken leg in the FIM GP Challenge in Glasgow on Saturday night, Gorzow headed to the Marian Rose Motoarena as underdogs. But they could now be favourites to reach the semi-finals after Zmarzlik took the fight to Torun with five wins and two second places over seven rides. He was backed up by a solid nine points from Danish prospect Patrick Hansen and eight paid nine from former Polish champion Szymon Wozniak. Great Britain racer Robert Lambert led the Torun scorechart on 12 paid 13, while Patryk Dudek picked up 11 paid 12 and Pawel Przedpelski tallied 10. Jack Holder scored five paid seven. In Sunday’s other quarter final, Maciej Janowski powered to 15 paid 16 points for Wroclaw, but it wasn’t enough to save them from a 46-44 loss at home to Czestochowa. The Lions made themselves favourites to reach the semis after Polish star Kacper Woryna raced to 12 paid 14, with Leon Madsen and Bartosz Smektala adding eight paid nine apiece and Freddie Lindgren and Jakub Miskowiak scoring seven each. Janowski was supported by a 13-point haul from Cardiff winner Dan Bewley, just 24 hours after he booked his 2023 Speedway GP place at the GP Challenge in Glasgow. Triple world champion Tai Woffinden notched nine paid 14. On Friday night, table-topping Lublin put one foot in the semi-finals after storming to a 49-41 win away to Leszno in their first leg. Poland’s Dominik Kubera led their scorechart on 13 paid 14, with Jaroslaw Hampel adding 11 and Mikkel Michelsen scoring 10 paid 12. Speedway European Championship leader Janusz Kolodziej was Leszno’s top performer on 11 paid 12, with Piotr Pawlicki tallying 10 and young gun Damian Ratajczak scoring nine paid 10. Jason Doyle registered six paid eight. The second legs take place on Sunday – the day after this Saturday’s Betard FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Wroclaw. For full details of the quarter final results and scorers, visit (in Polish): https://speedwayekstraliga.pl/

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NILSSON, BEWLEY & JACK HOLDER BOOK SPEEDWAY GP 2023 PLACES

Swedish star Kim Nilsson, Great Britain shooting star Dan Bewley and Australian ace Jack Holder are the first riders to guarantee their place in the 2023 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series. Nilsson stormed to a shock victory at the FIM GP Challenge in Glasgow on Saturday, winning a run-off ahead of FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain – Cardiff winner Bewley to top the podium after they tied on 13 points. The final 2023 qualification place went to Holder, who defeated FIM Speedway of Nations world title-winning partner Max Fricke in a run-off for third place after they finished level on 12. It was a night of high drama in Scotland as Speedway GP rider Anders Thomsen crashed out of the FIM GP Challenge with a broken leg. This came not long after 2012 world champion Chris Holder was taken to hospital after falling awkwardly in heat 12, with pursuing French racer David Bellego unable to avoid the stricken Aussie and ploughing into him. Holder confirmed he suffered a broken collarbone, two broken ribs and a broken bone in his lower back. While fans await further news on the condition of the injured pair, it was a night to remember for Nilsson as he prepares for full-time Speedway GP life in 2023. The surprised Swede said: “I wouldn’t have believed it, especially not winning the meeting. My goal was the top three, but I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t been to Glasgow before and I was just open-minded. “I am going to be open-minded again next year too. I am going to do my best and try to build up a good team around me so that I can perform as well as I can. “I do not have such high expectations right now. I am going to build things up during the winter. I will just do everything I can and give it my all in every heat. I can’t do more than that.” World No.5 Fredrik Lindgren is Sweden’s sole Speedway GP rider in 2022 and Nilsson is delighted to be expanding the nation’s presence on the sport’s biggest stage. He added: “It’s important for Swedish speedway, for sure. I think it could be a boost to get one more Swede in – and a new name. I just hope it does something for Swedish speedway.” British hero Bewley may have secured his Speedway GP status for another year. But having moved up to fourth place in the 2022 standings with victory in Cardiff last weekend, he will not be easing off the gas as he stands just one point off Patryk Dudek in third place. The Cumbrian said: “After the last few rounds, the aim is to try and get a medal. It’s nice to have qualified – you never know with speedway what is going to happen. It’s nice to have what you could say is a back-up plan. Hopefully I don’t need it, but if I do, it is nice to have it. It was an awesome night, and it was good to be back in Glasgow again.” Third-placed Holder had to overcome the ordeal of seeing older brother Chris leave Ashfield in an ambulance after crashing when they met in race 12, with their family watching on from the stands. But the Speedway GP star showed phenomenal composure to snatch the final qualification place, guaranteeing himself a second straight season in the SGP World Championship. Holder said: “It all started off well, but then the red lights came on in heat 12 and I saw Chris on the ground. I quickly stopped and I could see he was in a bit of pain, but it was a hard one because I had to keep racing. “It was definitely a big mental test. It was tough to see him like that while I had to continue doing what I was doing. But it is what it is. I managed to keep my head and get the job done.” This year’s Speedway GP top six will also earn qualification for the 2023 series, along with the winner of the Speedway European Championship and five wild cards chosen by the SGP Commission. If either Bewley or Holder finish in this year’s Speedway GP top six, Fricke will receive the qualification place they earned at the FIM GP Challenge after being ranked fourth in Glasgow. GB star Robert Lambert took fifth place on 10 points – a figure matched by Danish champion Rasmus Jensen in sixth. This year’s World Championship race continues with the Betard FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Wroclaw next Saturday, with the Beckhoff FIM SGP3 of Poland taking place for the sport’s under-16 stars on Friday afternoon. FIM GP CHALLENGE RESULT: 1 Kim Nilsson 13+3, 2 Dan Bewley 13+2, 3 Jack Holder 12+3, 4 Max Fricke 12+2, 5 Robert Lambert 10, 6 Rasmus Jensen 10, 7 Michael Jepsen Jensen 9, 8 Rohan Tungate 7, 9 Andzejs Lebedevs 7, 10 Anders Thomsen 5, 11 Connor Bailey 5, 12 Drew Kemp 5, 13 Chris Holder 4, 14 David Bellego 3, 15 Dominik Kubera 3, 16 Szymon Wozniak 2, 17 Vaclav Milik 0, 18 Oliver Berntzon DNR.

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NILSSON, BEWLEY & JACK HOLDER BOOK SPEEDWAY GP 2023 PLACES

Swedish star Kim Nilsson will make his full-time FIM Speedway Grand Prix debut in 2023 after racing to a shock victory at the FIM GP Challenge in Glasgow on Saturday. The Stockholm-born racer is joined in guaranteeing 2023 qualification by runner-up Dan Bewley and third-placed Jack Holder. Full report to follow soon …

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WOFFINDEN'S INJURY UPDATE

Triple world champion Tai Woffinden suspects his recent back injury left him with the chest pains and breathing difficulties that forced him out of the FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain – Cardiff last Saturday. Woffinden withdrew from the Principality Stadium event after three rides and returned to Poland, where he underwent extensive medical checks. The Great Britain star believes the issues he suffered in Cardiff were the result of the back injury he suffered in a training accident in Denmark ahead of the FIM Speedway of Nations Final. He’s determined to continue his intensive treatment on the problem as he bids for a rapid return to full fitness. Woffinden had remained relatively quiet on the issues following the Cardiff event. But posting on Facebook on Friday, he wrote: “Hey guys, I thought I better catch up with you after the British Grand Prix in Cardiff!!! “Obviously I pulled out after three rides. This was due to me having chest pain and I could not take a deep breath during the meeting. This wasn’t a usual situation and something that I had to take seriously. Since then, I’ve come back to Poland and been checked out. I’ve had more X-rays and a full cardiovascular overhaul, some slight lifestyle changes have to be made, but nothing to worry about too much. “We think the training injury I sustained in Vojens has made me overcompensate in my movement to protect my back. Therefore, I had picked up further issues with my chest. I wanted to keep racing. I did leading up to and then at Cardiff, and I felt I could race and it would not cause any issues. That obviously wasn’t the case. “It was massively disappointing to not be 100 percent and then to have to pull out of the British GP. “I’ll now take each meeting as it comes. Every day consists of physio and treatment to get myself fully fit again. “Thanks so much to all the British fans for another incredible amount of love and support. I’ll be back to fight another day.”  

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BEWLEY HAILS WROCLAW'S LIFE-CHANGING LEAP OF FAITH

Cardiff winner Dan Bewley admits a leap of faith from Polish champions Wroclaw helped him establish himself as a top-line rider. The Cumbrian surged up to fourth place in the Speedway GP World Championship after an unforgettable victory at the FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain – Cardiff last Saturday. Bewley became the first home winner at Principality Stadium since Chris Harris topped the podium 15 years ago. And tonight he could secure his place in the 2023 Speedway GP series if he finishes in the top three at the FIM GP Challenge in Glasgow, where he is joined by fellow SGP regulars Robert Lambert, Jack Holder, Max Fricke and Anders Thomsen, with 2012 world champion Chris Holder a late addition to a stellar line-up. While Bewley is enjoying a meteoric rise in the sport, he admits it might not have happened, had Wroclaw not recruited him for the 2020 season and stuck with him as he established himself in the world’s toughest speedway league. The 2021 FIM Speedway of Nations world champion said: “It’s a story not many people know, but I actually had a pretty terrible season with Rybnik in 2019. I only did a few meetings – well, one or two good races I should say. “I only signed in Wroclaw in the Ekstraliga because nobody in the First Division wanted me. It was pretty funny. I will always be pretty thankful to Andrzej Rusko and all the management in Wroclaw for believing in me and seeing something. “I took the opportunity and I struggled a little bit. I always felt I had the ability; I just wasn’t executing and putting everything together. But I think it’s paying off for them now because we are a pretty strong team.” Bewley now hopes to make it back-to-back Speedway GP wins in the Betard FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Wroclaw next Saturday. The Brit admits he was surprised when people predicted him to win in Cardiff – especially as he feels Wroclaw’s iconic Olympic Stadium track suits him much better. He said: “It’s funny. People were tipping me to win in Cardiff. If you were a betting man, it is the closest type of track to Warsaw and I was pretty average there. “If people were tipping me to win in Wroclaw, I would say ‘fair enough’, but I didn’t know about Cardiff. I wouldn’t really say Cardiff was my best track, but maybe in the end it was.” FIM GP CHALLENGE LINE-UP: 1 Oliver Berntzon, 2 Vaclav Milik, 3 Dan Bewley, 4 Max Fricke, 5 Andzejs Lebedevs, 6 Rasmus Jensen, 7 David Bellego, 8 Anders Thomsen, 9 Szymon Wozniak, 10 Chris Holder, 11 Rohan Tungate, 12 Robert Lambert, 13 Jack Holder, 14 Dominik Kubera, 15 Michael Jepsen Jensen, 16 Kim Nilsson.

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