NO STRESS FOR VACULIK AHEAD OF ‘HOME’ SPEEDWAY GP IN PRAGUE
Slovak star Martin Vaculik insists the carrying hopes of his adopted home crowd “doesn’t create any extra stress” as he chases a second straight Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic win at Marketa Stadium on Saturday.
The Czech capital club stages a double-header of FIM Speedway action this weekend as the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship series gets underway with the Prague FIM SGP2 of Czech Republic on Friday night.
The sport’s top riders then battle it out at Marketa Stadium in the Prague FIM Czech Speedway GP on Saturday, with top two Bartosz Zmarzlik and Fredrik Lindgren tied on 36 points for first place in the Speedway GP World Championship standings.
Vaculik heads to one of the tracks where he honed his speedway talent as a junior placed seventh on 21 points – level with Britain’s Tai Woffinden in sixth.
The Zarnovica-born racer topped the Prague podium ahead of Woffinden in second and Doyle in third in 2022, celebrating an emotional win in the event he watched from the terraces as a child.
The Czech fans and Vaculik’s legions of Slovakian supporters heading across the border are set to get behind the five-time Speedway GP winner in Prague’s record-breaking 29th Speedway GP event.
While the Gorzow rider is determined to make the most of having the fans behind him, as well as Czech wild card Vaclav Milik, he feels no weight of expectation going into Saturday’s showdown.
He said: “I feel relaxed and will just enjoy the moment. I really enjoy being in Prague and at this event. I also really love the track. I have spent a lot of time there since my junior years.
“I don’t feel any pressure. Of course, when I speak with some friends or fans, they expect something. But it doesn’t create any extra stress in my head. I see it more as positivity for me.
“The Czech and Slovakian fans were all very nice after my win. I am very pleased about that and very thankful for everybody who cheered for me. It’s fantastic when you see people support you and have your team clothes or national flag on. That’s a fantastic feeling. I am just looking forward to the weekend.”
Despite the good memories made in 2022, Vaculik knows his Prague victory counts for little on Saturday night as he bids to climb the standings and improve on two straight semi-final appearances.
“Last year is history and Saturday will be a new day,” he said. “I will just keep focused along with my team. We will keep calm and try our best.
“I have a good position to build on for the rest of the season in the Grand Prix. We are definitely in a better position than last year. But there is still some more work to do. We are looking for progress and I hope these semi-finals will turn into finals.”
While Vaculik is 15 points behind series frontrunners Zmarzlik and Lindgren, he also knows there is plenty of time to close the gap with eight rounds to race.
“It’s still the beginning of the season,” he said. “We just need to do our best. I will keep focused on myself. Anything is still possible – completely anything.”
SUCCESS ON SCREEN
This weekend’s event will be televised live in the Czech Republic on CT Sport. Meanwhile, Vaculik’s fans in Slovakia enjoy coverage of every Speedway GP round live on RTVS.
The nation’s No.1 speedway star has been delighted with the response from Slovakian sports fans as viewers in his home country follow his progress in Speedway GP.
Vaculik said: “RTVS is doing a great job in Slovakia with the sport of speedway. I can see clearly that more people know about speedway and more people watch speedway. More people recommend watching or following me as a speedway rider too.
“I really want to keep the sport on a high level in Slovakia. One day when I don’t race anymore, I really hope this sport will go forward and there will be new riders who can also race in Speedway GP. This is fundamental for the future.”
2023 PRAGUE FIM SPEEDWAY GP OF CZECH REPUBLIC LINE-UP (in FIM ranking order with rider numbers): 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), 30 Leon Madsen (Denmark), 71 Maciej Janowski (Poland), 66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden), 505 Robert Lambert (Great Britain), 99 Dan Bewley (Great Britain), 692 Patryk Dudek (Poland), 108 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain), 54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 155 Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark), 25 Jack Holder (Australia), 46 Max Fricke (Australia), 105 Anders Thomsen (Denmark), 233 Kim Nilsson (Sweden), 16 Vaclav Milik (Czech Republic – wild card), 17 Jan Kvech (Czech Republic – first track reserve), 18 Eduard Krcmar (Czech Republic – second track reserve).
Fans heading to Prague can enjoy two packed afternoons of entertainment in the Marketa Stadium fanzone ahead of racing on both Friday and Saturday.
Saturday’s fanzone gets started at 12:30 CET, with Prague FIM Czech Speedway GP qualifying practice taking place at 13:00 CET.
The Speedway GP trophy will be on display for fans to take pictures with throughout the day and there will be chances to grab a selfie with official FIM Speedway mascot Speedy at 15:15 CET and 18:15 CET.
Speedway GP’s Monster Energy athletes Fredrik Lindgren, Dan Bewley, Tai Woffinden, Patryk Dudek and Jack Holder will be on hand signing hero cards in the Monster Zone from 16:00 CET.
This will be followed by our Prague autograph session, featuring all the world’s best riders, from 16:30 CET. Fans can win Speedway GP prizes in our quizzes on the big screen at 15:30 CET and 17:45 CET, before we crown the King and Queen of the Fanzone at 18:00 CET.
Vintage bikes will be on display, plus activities for kids and food, drink and official merchandise will be available for purchase.
WHERE TO WATCH: Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic – Saturday, June 3 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, rider reaction times and, coming soon, live speed data.
Coverage of Speedway GP is available worldwide with linear coverage of the Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic also available in selected countries – see below for more details of where to watch.
ACROSS EUROPE: Live on the Eurosport App
BRITAIN: Live on discovery, Eurosport App + and Eurosport 2
POLAND: Live on 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 Recast via www.recast.tv/fimspeedway
USA/CANADA: Live on Recast via www.recast.tv/fimspeedway
GERMANY: Live on discovery+
ACROSS THE BALTICS: Live on discovery+, Eurosport App, Go3 and TV3 Sport channels
CZECH REP: Live on CT Sport and 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+
ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN: Live on SportsMax
ACROSS AFRICA: Live on SuperSport
ACROSS ASIA: Live on beINSPORTS
REST OF THE WORLD: Live on Recast via www.recast.tv/fimspeedway