CIERNIAK TAKES CHARGE OF SGP2 TITLE RACE WITH CARDIFF WIN
Polish racer Mateusz Cierniak stormed to victory in the FIM SGP2 of Great Britain at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium as he took pole position in the race for FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship gold.
The Lublin star rounded off Cardiff’s 20th-anniversary Speedway GP weekend by topping the scorechart on 12 race points after five heats, winning his opening four races, before looping his bike at the start line in his final heat.
Despite that, Cierniak’s four race wins were enough to see him win the round on countback after the FIM Jury elected to halt racing after 20 heats due to concerns over track conditions.
Cierniak still claims the maximum 20 championship points, meaning he has now won back-to-back rounds after also taking victory in the FIM SGP2 of Czech Republic on May 27.
He topped the Cardiff podium on countback ahead of Danish racer Kevin Juhl Pedersen, who also scored 12 race points. His fellow countryman Benjamin Basso was third after registering 11 race points – tying with Jan Kvech, but beating the Czech star to the last podium spot on countback.
Cierniak heads into the title-deciding FIM SGP2 of Poland in Torun on September 30 with a massive 12-point lead at the top of the standings on 40 overall. This means a semi-final appearance in his home round would be enough to secure the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship – the first of the SGP2 era under new global promoter Discovery Sports Events.
The Tarnow-born star was delighted with how he handled some challenging track conditions in Cardiff to keep his bid for a hat-trick of SGP2 round wins alive. He said: “Maybe I will make it a hat-trick. We will see. There is a long way to go before Torun. Now I have a Polish Championship round tomorrow in Krosno, so I must prepare for it and also the play-offs in the Polish league.
“Today was very hard. The track was very hard, so everyone had to have full focus on everything we were doing on the track. I was happy with the end result. The result is good for me and I would like to say thank you to everyone.”
Runner-up Juhl Pedersen crashed out of the opening SGP2 round in Prague, suffering a head injury. So he was pleased to show his skills on Cardiff’s grand stage and earn a huge 18 points to move up to fourth place on 22.
He said: “Today was much better. In Prague, I fell off and hit my head so hard that I couldn’t race for a week afterwards. I actually think the track today was better than Prague.”
Juhl Pedersen is keen to make the most of his final SGP2 event in Torun next month as he will be ineligible for the competition in 2023. Then he is determined to push on into Europe’s top leagues.
He said: “This is my last year as an under-21. I see myself going forward very much. I am learning my craft in the Polish Second Division and I am looking to get into the higher leagues, so we will see what happens.”
Basso enjoyed a rough end to his night when Kvech brought him down in heat 20 – their last race of the night. The Czech was holding second place, which would have been enough to give him victory on the night ahead of Cierniak with 13 race points. His exclusion, followed by Basso’s win in the re-run, saw the Dane pip him to third spot.
“I actually don’t know what he was thinking,” Basso said. “I only needed a second place to go through to the semis and I actually felt I gave him enough space just to pass me on the inside. He took my foot, so I actually don’t know what that was all about.”
Basso has now enjoyed around a year of racing in the UK, starting with Poole last summer, helping them to the SGB Championship league and cup double. He moved to their rivals Glasgow for this year, as well as competing for Peterborough in the SGB Premiership.
The Dane admits this UK experience paid dividends on a technical Cardiff track. He said: “It most definitely did, and I still feel like I am only learning. It’s only my first full season in the UK. I definitely think racing in the UK has given me an advantage tonight because the tracks are a lot different to what we are used to in Denmark.”
Next up on the FIM Speedway calendar is a blockbuster double-header, featuring the FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Wroclaw on August 27, with SGP3, the FIM Speedway Youth World Championship taking place 24 hours earlier on August 26 at the legendary Olympic Stadium.
SGP2 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Mateusz Cierniak 40, 2 Jan Kvech 28, 3 Benjamin Basso 25, 4 Kevin Juhl Pedersen 22, 5 Petr Chlupac 20, 6 Wiktor Lampart 19, 7 Francis Gusts 18, 8 Jakub Miskowiak 18, 9 Jonas Knudsen 14, 10 Timi Salonen 12, 11 Gustav Grahn 12, 12 Tom Brennan 12, 13 Leon Flint 10, 14 Norick Blodorn 9, 15 Casper Henriksson 8, 16 Mateusz Swidnicki 8, 17 Jason Edwards 6, 18 Drew Kemp 5, 19 Celina Liebmann 3, 20 Daniel Klima 2, 21 Bruno Belan 1.
FIM SGP2 OF GREAT BRITAIN SCORES: 1 Mateusz Cierniak 20, 2 Kevin Juhl Pedersen 18, 3 Benjamin Basso 16, 4 Jan Kvech 14, 5 Tom Brennan 12, 6 Wiktor Lampart 11, 7 Leon Flint 10, 8 Norick Blodorn 9, 9 Jakub Miskowiak 8, 10 Gustav Grahn 7, 11 Jason Edwards 6, 12 Drew Kemp 5, 13 Petr Chlupac 4, 14 Jonas Knudsen 3, 15 Casper Henriksson 2, 16 Mateusz Swidnicki 1, 17 Daniel Klima 0.