Artem Laguta admits he’s in dreamland after triumphing in Vojens on Saturday to overhaul Bartosz Zmarzlik for top spot in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship race.
Laguta stormed to his fourth win of SGP 2021 at the Danish SGP sponsored by Ecco, taking victory in the final ahead of Zmarzlik, Emil Sayfutdinov and Tai Woffinden.
The win hands the Wroclaw and Vastervik star a one-point lead in the standings going into the title-deciding eWinner Torun SGP of Poland double-header on October 1 and 2.
It’s the first time this season Laguta has led the standings as he bids to make history and become the first rider representing the Motorcycling Federation of Russia to be crowned senior individual world champion.
He was elated to leave the legendary Vojens Speedway Center with an advantage going into the biggest weekend of his life in three weeks.
Speaking via manager Rafal Lewicki, Laguta said: “It is a great feeling, but I also feel like I cannot believe it. It’s a dream come true. You sometimes wake up after a great dream and you cannot believe it. We will realise it was true tomorrow, and we are so happy about this.”
Laguta has a strong record in Torun, having won five heats and the semi-final in 2018, only to finish second to Tai Woffinden in the final. He also finished third in round eight there in 2020.
Zmarzlik is chasing his third straight world title, while Laguta has never been in championship contention. But the Bolshoy Kamen-born racer is determined to remember what has put him in this position as he bids to deliver gold.
“I want to do the best I can in Torun. For sure the few days before are going to be tough. I will be facing this for the first time in my career. But I know I haven’t come from nowhere. I have been working so hard on this. I have dreamed of being the best in the world and put a lot of effort into that,” Zmarzlik said.
“I am working together with my team to get there, and all we can do is the best we can do. We will do our best and see how much we get back.
“Of course Bartek is not going to give up. He is a world champion. But I am very hungry for it.”
Zmarzlik was content with second spot on the Vojens track where he topped the podium in 2019 as he kept pace with his rival, adding: “I fulfilled the minimum plan and I am happy because I didn’t feel so good on the bike today with the setups and technically.
“Everything wasn’t 100 percent, but I made it into second place for me and my team, and that’s a really good result at Vojens.”
Third-placed Emil Sayfutdinov was delighted to be back on the podium for the first time since he finished second at round one in Prague.
His 16 championship points saw him leapfrog Fredrik Lindgren for third spot in the standings, with Sayfutdinov on 121 points and the Swede on 119 in the battle for the bronze medal.
Having finished fourth at the previous round in Togliatti, Sayfutdinov is pleased to be back on form for the business end of the season.
“To be honest, third place is really, really nice. I am really happy. The last two or three months have been so hard. I want to say a special thanks to my team, who have been working really hard,” Sayfutdinov said.
“Hopefully we are on track to be on the podium. I scored important points today and I am looking forward to Torun.
“I was hungry to win this Grand Prix because I felt awesome. I found a quick line where I could be fast.
“I have some new engines and I don’t know which way to change the setups sometimes. In that final heat, it is always hard for me, but I am happy. Third place in the final puts me back on the podium.”
The SGP series now takes a short break for the 2021 Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations Semi-Finals in Daugavpils on Friday and Saturday (September 17 and 18).
Poland face off against Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovenia and the USA in Semi-Final 1 on Friday, September 17, with hosts Latvia taking on MFR, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and the Ukraine in Semi-Final 2 on Saturday, September 18.
DANISH SGP SPONSORED BY ECCO SCORES:
1 Artem Laguta 20 Points
2 Bartosz Zmarzlik 18 Points
3 Emil Sayfutdinov 16 Points
4 Tai Woffinden 14 Points
5 Robert Lambert 12 Points
6 Fredrik Lindgren 11 Points
7 Leon Madsen 10 Points
8 Mikkel Michelsen 9 Points
9 Martin Vaculik 8 Points
10 Max Fricke 7 Points
11 Jason Doyle 6 Points
12 Matej Zagar 5 Points
13 Maciej Janowski 4 Points
14 Anders Thomsen 3 Points
15 Oliver Berntzon 2 Points
16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 1 Point
17 Mads Hansen DNR
18 Frederik Jakobsen DNR
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1 Artem Laguta 158 Points
2 Bartosz Zmarzlik 157 Points
3 Emil Sayfutdinov 121 Points
4 Fredrik Lindgren 119 Points
5 Tai Woffinden 96 Points
6 Maciej Janowski 95 Points
7 Leon Madsen 82 Points
8 Max Fricke 77 Points
9 Jason Doyle 74 Points
10 Anders Thomsen 63 Points
11 Robert Lambert 60 Points
12 Martin Vaculik 53 Points
13 Dominik Kubera 44 Points
14 Matej Zagar 41 Points
15 Oliver Berntzon 20 Points
16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 19 Points
17 Mikkel Michelsen 9 Points
18 Gleb Chugunov 8 Points
19 Jan Kvech 7 Points
20 Aleksandr Loktaev 6 Points
21 Vadim Tarasenko 4 Points
22 Pontus Aspgren 1 Point