World champion Bartosz Zmarzlik was delighted to overcome his early setup struggles to claim his fourth FIM Speedway Grand Prix win of 2021 at the Swedish SGP in Malilla on Saturday.
The Pole collected five points in his opening four heats to leave himself at risk of a disastrous exit before the semi-finals.
But Zmarzlik won his final heat, his semi, and then the final, which saw him defeat Artem Laguta and home hero Fredrik Lindgren to top the podium and extend his SGP World Championship advantage over Laguta to three points.
Riders were forced to get to grips with changing track conditions following heavy rain in the afternoon. Zmarzlik admits he and his team worked hard in the pits to perfect their bike setup, and he was delighted to get it right when it mattered most to follow up his Malilla triumph in 2017.
“I am very happy because it was the second time I have won in Malilla. For me it is unbelievable. I love racing here,” Zmarzlik said.
“The start of the meeting was not so easy for me. It was very hard to find the setups. In every ride, I changed something – the ignition, jets, and sprockets; every time it was different.
“I feel for my fifth race it was a little bit better. I changed it for the semi-final and had good speed. Before the final, I changed it again, but only a little bit. Then it was good.
“But I am very happy with today’s result – I won and I did everything I could. Again it was a good night, but now I am focused on the next round. Keep your fingers crossed for Togliatti and I will see you soon.”
Zmarzlik will be keen to continue his incredible form at the Togliatti SGP on August 28, but his nearest rival Artem Laguta will also have his sights set on a big night in his home country.
The Russian-born rider topped the heat score chart with 14 race points tonight, but Zmarzlik got the better of him when it mattered most in the final to take 20 championship points, leaving Laguta with 18. Zmarzlik leads the standings on 121, with Laguta close behind on 118.
The world No.7 was still pleased with his night in Sweden, though, saying, “It’s an absolutely great feeling to be in the top three and drinking the champagne – it’s something special. I am very happy about that.
“It was a tough competition and I knew it was going to be very tough in Malilla. After the first race, we swapped the bike and that was a good choice. We worked hard to get the best speed from the bike. The whole team put a lot of effort in and the bike was working very well.
“Bartek and I are so very close and we know it’s going to be a fight until the end. There is no room for mistakes. I will be focused with the whole team to score as many points as we can, to get the best speed from the bikes and to get to finals. That’s the major thing.
“Thank you to my team and my sponsors. I am very happy and I will see you in Togliatti!”
Third-placed Fredrik Lindgren was content with his night but admits top two Zmarzlik and Laguta have too much speed for the competition currently.
“I feel pretty good. I think I executed this meeting really well. I was feeling fast all night. It was just a shame I couldn’t make it happen in the final,” Lindgren explained.
“Again, Zmarzlik and Artem Laguta were too strong. Congratulations to both of them. They are one step ahead of the rest of us at the moment.
“I finished in third place, but overall I am very happy. I wish I could have won. It didn’t happen this time. But I thought I rode really well in pretty tough conditions early on after the rain.”
SWEDISH SGP SCORES:
1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 20 Points
2 Artem Laguta 18 Points
3 Fredrik Lindgren 16 Points
4 Jason Doyle 14 Points
5 Emil Sayfutdinov 12 Points
6 Maciej Janowski 11 Points
7 Dominik Kubera 10 Points
8 Anders Thomsen 9 Points
9 Tai Woffinden 8 Points
10 Max Fricke 7 Points
11 Robert Lambert 6 Points
12 Oliver Berntzon 5 Points
13 Matej Zagar 4 Points
14 Leon Madsen 3 Points
15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 2 Points
16 Pontus Aspgren 1 Points
17 Kim Nilsson 0 Points
18 Joel Andersson DNR Points
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 121 Points
2 Artem Laguta 118 Points
3 Fredrik Lindgren 96 Points
4 Emil Sayfutdinov 91 Points
5 Maciej Janowski 83 Points
6 Tai Woffinden 73 Points
7 Leon Madsen 62 Points
8 Jason Doyle 61 Points
9 Max Fricke 59 Points
10 Robert Lambert 47 Points
11 Martin Vaculik 45 Points
12 Anders Thomsen 44 Points
13 Dominik Kubera 44 Points
14 Matej Zagar 31 Points
15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 16 Points
16 Oliver Berntzon 15 Points
17 Gleb Chugunov 8 Points
18 Jan Kvech 7 Points
19 Pontus Aspgren 1 Points