Speedway

Bartosz Zmarzlik Comes Out On Top At Speedway GP of Sweden

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Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Bartosz Zmarzlik
Bartosz Zmarzlik celebrates his record 24th FIM Speedway Grand Prix win in Sweden, edging closer to his fifth World Championship title.

Polish icon Bartosz Zmarzlik believes eating, sleeping and breathing speedway gives him the edge after racing to a record-shattering 24th FIM Speedway Grand Prix win of his career at the 3P Logistics FIM Speedway GP of Sweden – Malilla on Saturday night.

After matching Aussie legend Jason Crump’s total of 23 Speedway GP victories on the night he sealed his fourth Speedway GP World Championship at Polish track Torun last September, Zmarzlik claimed the record for himself by seeing off Aussie star Max Fricke, Great Britain’s Robert Lambert and Australia’s world No.4 Jack Holder in a dramatic final at the Skrotfrag Arena.

Zmarzlik now holds a 17-point lead at the Speedway GP World Championship summit as he steps up his pursuit of title No.5, which would make him only the fourth rider in history to achieve that mark.

But no rider in Speedway GP history has won more rounds than Zmarzlik. Asked the secret to his success, the Lublin and Lejonen man admits desire to be the best plays a pivotal role – and not so much the prospect of setting records.

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Bartosz Zmarzlik
Bartosz Zmarzlik leads the final ahead of Fricke, Lambert and Holder. Photo: Taylor Lanning

“Everyone wants it, but you must want it more. I am sleeping speedway, eating speedway and I go to breakfast with speedway. All the time I am thinking about this sport. For me, it is so very important,” Zmarzlik said.

“I was really not looking at the record and the statistics. Maybe I will focus a bit more on this when I’m an old man sitting at home, looking back at statistics like this and thinking, ‘Great moment!’ Then I will look back and see what I did in my career.”

While speedway is a huge part of Zmarzlik’s life, he admits going home to his wife Sandra and their two children keeps things in perspective.

“Now I have two lives because when I am in my van or in the workshop, all the time I am thinking about speedway,” Zmarzlik explained. “I must say thanks to my wife and kids because when I close the door of my workshop, I can be a normal dad and I do everything I can to be the best for my kids. It makes things easier because I never think, ‘I must,’ only ‘I can.’”

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Bartosz Zmarzlik and Jason Crump
A very special picture from the Zmarzlik’s family photo archive. A young Bartosz Zmarzlik poses with Jason Crump and Pawel Zmarzlik, his brother, mechanic and manager at the Edward Jancarz Memorial meeting in Gorzow, two decades ago

Zmarzlik smashed a record Crump has held since his final SGP victory in Copenhagen on June 9, 2012. The Pole recalls meeting the triple Speedway GP world champion as a child.

“I have some nice memories with Jason,” he said. “I remember in about 2003 or 2004, Jason came to the Edward Jancarz Memorial meeting in Gorzow. I have a photo with him when I was really small.

“Jason put his arms around me and was really smiling. This was my first meeting with him and our first photo.”

Zmarzlik felt he could be in for a big performance when he woke up in Sweden. “I had this feeling when I woke up and looked out of the window that it would be a really good day,” he said.

“After the rain came, the first plan maybe had to change, and I had to think again. I was stressing really badly. I had a really bad start. I was slow. But after, I had many talks with my team, and we got the setup in a good way. I felt stronger and stronger with every heat.”

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Max Fricke
Runner-up Max Fricke. Photo: Taylor Lanning

Zmarzlik has now topped the podium a record four times in Malilla – a track he admits reminds him of another of his favourite Speedway GP venues. He said: “Maybe it’s similar to the home track I had for many years in Gorzow – a short and technical track.”

Zmarzlik heads to his boyhood club next for the ISS FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Gorzow on June 29.

But first, he will be spending a few relaxing days in Sweden ahead of Bauhaus Elitserien club Lejonen’s match against Malilla club Dackarna on Tuesday. He looks forward to swapping the white heat of Speedway GP battle for the calming blue waters of a Swedish lake on Sunday.

“On Sunday, 100 percent I will be going fishing, cycling and spending two or three days in Sweden,” he concluded.

Runner-up Max Fricke was delighted to reach his first SGP final since he won the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw in May 2022.

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Robert Lambert
Third-placed Robert Lambert. Photo: Taylor Lanning

He did not start 2024 as a member of the SGP series. But he was handed the first substitute role by the SGP Commission and was pleased to remind them of his class with a big display as he replaced the injured Jason Doyle in Malilla.

But he insisted: “I don’t think about the wild card situation. It’s done, they made their decision, and it is what it is. But coming back into the GPs, I wanted to have a solid couple of results and give a nudge in the right direction to whoever makes those decisions.

“It’s so far, so good – it’s nice to be back in the GPs. Prague went reasonably well. I kind of ran out of talent in the end in the semi-final there, so it was nice to redeem myself a little bit in Malilla by making the final and having a good race. We are just rolling along and trying to keep moving in the right direction.”

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Bartosz Zmarzlik

Third-placed Robert Lambert surged into second place in the Speedway GP World Championship by scoring 16 points in Malilla. After starting the night with two heat wins, his victory hopes suffered a setback as he registered two thirds.

But he bounced back with a win, before taking second place in an epic semi-final duel with Zmarzlik and then claiming third spot in the final, leaving him 17 points behind the reigning champion with six rounds to race.

“It was a storming start and then things started going backwards,” he said. “We managed to pull things back for the last heat and the semi.

“I got a good gate for the semi, and we made that work. I had a bit of a battle with Bartek there. I am happy with the way the meeting has ended. I am up into second, which is a great position.

“Bartek has a bit of a lead, but we still have a few rounds to go. As long as I stay consistent, I will give it a shot. You don’t need to win a GP to win the whole series and become world champion. But I am still fighting for it and my day will come.”

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