Slovak star Martin Vaculik says he realised a childhood dream after sending Marketa Stadium wild with an unforgettable Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic victory on Saturday.
The Bratislava-based racer made regular trips to the famous Marketa Stadium as a child, before honing his skills in the Czech league with his hometown team Zarnovica.
Vaculik lined up in Prague as one of the world’s top riders and he was elated to triumph in the final ahead of triple world champion Tai Woffinden of Great Britain and Australia’s 2017 world champion Jason Doyle.
After taking his speedway journey full circle at the Czech Republic’s biggest speedway event, Vaculik enthused: “Wow! Racing in Prague is always something special for me. Firstly, I love the city and I have spent a lot of time here since my junior years.
“My big dream was always to win the Grand Prix here. When I was a kid, I came here with my father and I watched the meetings. Now I am in the Grand Prix and my dream has come true.
“I remember, nearly 20 years ago, I stood on a different side of the fence and I shouted for Tony Rickardsson, Tomasz Gollob and other riders I like. I asked if they would take a picture with me, and today somebody asked me for a picture. It really is a dream come true and this is a very special moment for me.”
Vaculik’s victory propels him up to ninth in the Speedway GP World Championship on 29 points. His 20-point haul for topping the Prague podium is a huge improvement on the combined total of nine he scored across the opening two rounds in Donji Kraljevec, Croatia, and the Polish capital Warsaw.
The Gorzow rider believes he is now finding his form. “Since the beginning of the season, I have been struggling big time. I now feel in a good way with my equipment. I feel I have speed.
“I feel I am gating well and my team is working very well together. We are working hard and keeping calm and composed. We will take things step by step as usual.
“We are trying our best and I am so pleased with a result like today. Speedway is a hard sport. You really need to be focused all the time. The season is long, so you need to be present and enjoy the moment.”
Runner-up Tai Woffinden was pleased to take another step forward in his Speedway GP campaign after reaching his first final of 2022 to move up to fifth place in the standings on 32 points – closing the gap on leader Bartosz Zmarzlik, who has 44 and is 12 ahead.
Woffinden, a former three-time Prague winner, said: “We didn’t have the greatest first round in Croatia, but I made the semis at the second round in Warsaw. Here tonight, the goal was to make the final and we did that. I said before tonight that I don’t mind a challenge and here we are. Let’s see how the rest of the year goes.”
Third-placed Jason Doyle won back-to-back Speedway GP rounds in Prague in 2016 and 2017 and has now reached five Marketa Stadium finals. While he was seeking his third victory, he was pleased to return to the rostrum for the first time since 2020.
“It was not the result I wanted, but to be on the podium is a massive honour – especially when we come to Prague. I love the place and I love the city,” Doyle said.
“Today showed the strong riders, not just the ones who ride the slick tracks. I would like to say congratulations to Martin. It’s a great honour to be on the podium tonight.”
The World Championship action comes thick and fast, with the FIM Speedway GP of Germany – Teterow just seven days away on June 4.
PRAGUE FIM SPEEDWAY GP OF CZECH REPUBLIC SCORES:
1 Martin Vaculik 20 Points
2 Tai Woffinden 18 Points
3 Jason Doyle 16 Points
4 Maciej Janowski 14 Points
5 Bartosz Zmarzlik 12 Points
6 Dan Bewley 11 Points
7 Leon Madsen 10 Points
8 Anders Thomsen 9 Points
9 Max Fricke 8 Points
10 Jack Holder 7 Points
11 Fredrik Lindgren 6 Points
12 Patryk Dudek 5 Points
13 Robert Lambert 4 Points
14 Mikkel Michelsen 3 Points
15 Pawel Przedpelski 2 Points
16 Jan Kvech 1 Points
17 Daniel Klima 0 Points
18 Petr Chlupac 0 Points
SPEEDWAY GP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 44 Points
2 Maciej Janowski 43 Points
3 Leon Madsen 40 Points
4 Mikkel Michelsen 33 Points
5 Tai Woffinden 32 Points
6 Jason Doyle 31 Points
7 Max Fricke 30 Points
8 Fredrik Lindgren 30 Points
9 Martin Vaculik 29 Points
10 Anders Thomsen 24 Points
11 Robert Lambert 22 Points
12 Dan Bewley 20 Points
13 Jack Holder 17 Points
14 Patryk Dudek 15 Points
15 Pawel Przedpelski 12 Points
16 Matej Zagar 11 Points
17 Maksym Drabik 4 Points
18 Jan Kvech 1 Point