Speedway

Bartosz Zmarzlik Storms To 2023 Speedway GP Of Croatia Win

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Bartosz Zmarzlik
Bartosz Zmarzlik topped the podium for the 2023 Speedway GP Of Croatia

Poland’s triple world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik hailed his crew for helping him turn his night around as he defied a starting slip-up to storm to his second straight Tehnix FIM Speedway GP of Croatia win on Saturday.

Zmarzlik launched his title defence in fine style as he powered to victory in the final ahead of Great Britain racer Robert Lambert and Swedish star Fredrik Lindgren after Aussie ace Jason Doyle failed to capitalise on a stunning start, crashing on the first corner.

This allowed Zmarzlik to make it back-to-back wins at the Speedway Stadion Milenium, where he topped the podium on April 30, 2022.

The Lublin and Lejonen rider suffered the blow of being excluded from his second race in heat five but bounced back to cruise into the semi-finals on 10 race points, before celebrating his 19th Speedway GP win.

A delighted Zmarzlik, who raced successive PGE Ekstraliga meetings for Polish club Lublin on Thursday and Friday, was delighted to end a busy run of racing by topping the 2023 Speedway GP World Championship.

He said: “I am really happy. It was a hard weekend for me. We didn’t have everything working the best, but thanks to my boys for doing a really good job. I made the final and by the final, I was feeling much better.”

Zmarzlik insists his starting exclusion didn’t break his concentration after his desire to make a fast start from the tricky gate three backfired.

He said: “When I thought about gate three in this moment, I wanted to make a really good start. But nothing changed after that. I was very calm. I was just waiting for my next heat so that I could show my best.”

Next up for Zmarzlik and his rivals is the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw in front of a packed PGE Narodowy on May 13. Zmarzlik is still chasing his first Warsaw final and victory, and he looks forward to battling for his points. He said: “Warsaw is a great place for the Polish riders, and I will just fight again there.”

Heavy rain ahead of racing left riders battling to adapt to track conditions, but runner-up Lambert believes it helped him as he reached his third Speedway GP podium. He said: “I was not so fast in Qualifying Practice. I think the rain helped me a little bit. The track came to me.

“In the final, I didn’t really make the best of starts. There was a bit of carnage on the first corner with Doyley going wide. A lot of guys didn’t know where to go and I was waiting for a red light that didn’t come. I made a move and managed to hold off Freddie, even though he was buzzing behind me.”

Lambert is still chasing his first Speedway GP win. After two second places, he believes he is edging ever closer. He said: “I am working hard to take this next step. For sure it will come in the future. There are a few more steps to come and I want to enjoy the moment of racing in this series.”

Third-placed Lindgren only qualified for the semi-finals by virtue of fourth place in the 2022 Speedway GP series, ranking him ahead of Aussie duo Jack Holder (12th) and Max Fricke (13th) after they tied on eight points and could not be separated on countback in the race for the last semi spot.

After a nervous wait for confirmation that he had qualified for the semis, Lindgren was pleased to capitalise and collect 16 championship points.

He said: “It seemed like no-one could decide – or at least they took a long time. When it’s equal on countback and we beat each other, it’s the highest ranked guy from last year who got it, and that was me.”

Lindgren also took advantage of a mistake from British star Tai Woffinden in semi-final two to snatch second place and reach the final.

He said: “Luckily for me, Woffy came in a bit hot in turn three. I rode a really tight corner, rode where no-one else had ridden, got some grip and passed him, so I did right there.”

SPEEDWAY GP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 20
2 Robert Lambert 18
3 Fredrik Lindgren 16
4 Jason Doyle 14
5 Tai Woffinden 12
6 Mikkel Michelsen 11
7 Dan Bewley 10
8 Martin Vaculik 9
9 Jack Holder 8
10 Max Fricke 7
11 Patryk Dudek 6
12 Anders Thomsen 5
13 Leon Madsen 4
14 Maciej Janowski 3
15 Kim Nilsson 2
16 Matej Zagar 1

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