Speedway

Artem Laguta Closes In On Top Spot With Togliatti SGP Win

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Artem Laguta topped the podium at the first-ever Togliatti FIM Speedway Grand Prix.

Home hero Artem Laguta celebrated the sensation of writing his name in history by winning the first-ever Togliatti FIM Speedway Grand Prix to turn up the heat in the World Championship race on Saturday.

Laguta topped the podium at the Anatoly Stepanov Stadium ahead of series leader Bartosz Zmarzlik, Danish champion Anders Thomsen and Emil Sayfutdinov as the Motorcycling Federation of Russia staged its first SGP event and the biggest speedway meeting in its history.

The Bolshoy Kamen-born racer cruised to the top of the heat score chart with 14 race points, but was on the verge of exiting the meeting in semi-final one until a mistake from Fredrik Lindgren allowed Laguta to overhaul the Swedish star for the all-important second place to join Sayfutdinov in the final.

He then kept his cool when it mattered most to make a fine start and triumph ahead of Zmarzlik, reducing the Pole’s lead at the SGP World Championship summit to just one point with three rounds to race. Laguta now has 138 points, with Zmarzlik just ahead on 139.

Whatever the outcome of what’s shaping up to be an epic title fight, Laguta will always go down as the first Togliatti winner, and he was delighted to make more history on the track where he won the 2019 Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations with Sayfutdinov.

Laguta, who also qualified for the SGP series via the 2017 GP Challenge staged in Togliatti, said: “I knew this meeting could be something special. Of course I want to win every single round and every single race.

“But winning in my home country – the first-ever Grand Prix here – is something special. It will go down in history and hopefully everyone will remember that the first-ever Togliatti SGP was won by me.”

With Zmarzlik and Laguta almost inseparable in the championship chase, the Bydgoszcz-based star is expecting a close battle at the next round in Vojens, Denmark on September 11 and then a tense finish as the hunt for the sport’s biggest prize concludes with the eWinner Torun SGP of Poland double-header on October 1 and 2.

“I am pretty sure that even after Vojens it will be pretty tight. We want to do the best we can and Bartosz does too, so it’s a tough game. I am pretty sure Torun will decide everything,” Laguta added.

Despite Laguta rarely visiting his homeland, he admits he won’t be able to celebrate his Togliatti SGP success for long.

“At 7am, we have to go to the airport and we are flying back to Poland to be ready for the Polish play-offs. We have some more goals in front of us, so we will take it step by step. There will be time for celebrations later for sure.

“Thank you Russia, thank you to my team and my sponsors. I am very happy. See you in Vojens.”

Runner-up Zmarzlik was content with his sixth straight top-two finish in an SGP round as he maintained top spot.

“I am feeling good because I made my plan before Togliatti and second place is nice. I made the podium and I am really happy,” Zmarzlik said.

“I am feeling good on the bike and that’s the best thing for me. It’s important that I am feeling good this season in meeting after meeting.

“Congratulations to Artem and Anders. Thank you very much for your support and see you at the next round.”

Third-placed Thomsen was elated with a night he will never forget in Togliatti. He said: “I feel amazing – my first podium and also my first final. What a feeling to get on the podium in such a big event and the first event here. Thank you to everybody.”

Thomsen cannot wait to line up in the Danish SGP sponsored by Ecco at the legendary Vojens Speedway Center in two weeks.

“Vojens is my home track in Denmark and I have been performing pretty well there. I have won the Danish title there two times in a row now. I feel I have some engines, bikes and equipment working well there, so I am focused for the next Grand Prix,” Thomsen said.

TOGLIATTI SGP SCORES:
1 Artem Laguta 20
2 Bartosz Zmarzlik 18
3 Anders Thomsen 16
4 Emil Sayfutdinov 14
5 Fredrik Lindgren 12
6 Max Fricke 11
7 Leon Madsen 10
8 Tai Woffinden 9
9 Maciej Janowski 8
10 Jason Doyle 7
11 Aleksandr Loktaev 6
12 Matej Zagar 5
13 Vadim Tarasenko 4
14 Oliver Berntzon 3
15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 2
16 Robert Lambert 1
17 Renat Gafurov 0
18 Evgenii Saidullin DNR

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 139
2 Artem Laguta 138
3 Fredrik Lindgren 108
4 Emil Sayfutdinov 105
5 Maciej Janowski 91
6 Tai Woffinden 82
7 Leon Madsen 72
8 Max Fricke 70
9 Jason Doyle 68
10 Anders Thomsen 60
11 Robert Lambert 48
12 Martin Vaculik 45
13 Dominik Kubera 44
14 Matej Zagar 36
15 Oliver Berntzon 18
16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 18
17 Gleb Chugunov 8
18 Jan Kvech 7
19 Aleksandr Loktaev 6
20 Vadim Tarasenko 4
21 Pontus Aspgren 1

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