Martin Vaculik Triumphs in 2023 FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain – Cardiff

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Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Martin Vaculik at Cardiff
Vaculik kisses the Cardiff track after a famous win. Photo: Jarek Pabijan

Slovakian sensation Martin Vaculik fulfilled a lifelong dream by emerging victorious at the FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain – Cardiff, held at Principality Stadium.

Vaculik was thrilled with the meticulously prepared track and his ice-cool performance over four thrilling laps in the epic final.

In a heated battle for second and third place, Australian champion Jack Holder, Poland’s Speedway GP World Championship leader Bartosz Zmarzlik, and Swedish No.1 Fredrik Lindgren put on a show for the fans. Great Britain’s Robert Lambert reached his first Cardiff semi-final, securing fifth place in the final standings with 12 championship points.

Unfortunately, it was a tough night for GB’s triple world champion Tai Woffinden, who crashed out in heat 16 after earning six race points in his first three rides. Last year’s Cardiff winner, Dan Bewley, hit the tapes and was disqualified from his final ride, finishing ninth overall with eight championship points.

Martin Vaculik, currently third in the standings with 105 points, expressed his joy at taking a step closer to a Speedway GP World Championship medal.

“Amazing! What a night!,” Vaculik said. “I have said it before; winning a Grand Prix has always been my dream since I was a kid. I used to watch the Cardiff Grand Prix on television. I think all the riders had the same dream, to win one time in Cardiff. It’s something special and I did it today. I am so happy.”

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Martin Vaculik at Cardiff
Vaculik pips Holder and Zmarzlik to the line. Photo: Taylor Lanning

Martin Vaculik praised the track’s preparation, calling it the best he had ever seen in Cardiff. He added, “In my eyes, it was the best-prepared track I have ever seen here. It was a good job by the organizers. We put on a good show.”

As he closed in on victory in the final, Vaculik admitted the nerves were building, making the four laps feel like an eternity. He said, “It was the longest four laps! It felt like the Zarnovica Golden Helmet Final in my home city – that’s over six laps! I was so stiff and nervous, and I was just thinking in my head, ‘Don’t break a chain!’ It’s crazy sometimes what can go through your head.”

Vaculik also expressed his gratitude to his team, mechanics, coach Bjarne Pedersen, and tuners Ryszard and Daniel Kowalski, for their role in his success. He dedicated the win to his family, supporters, sponsors, and everyone who contributed to his journey.

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Bartosz Zmarzlik at Cardiff
Bartosz Zmarzlik stormed to his sixth Cardiff final. Photo: Jarek Pabijan

Jack Holder, who finished second in his first meeting since recovering from a broken wrist, described his return as an incredible result. Despite crashing in the first race, Holder persevered, moving up to fourth place in the Speedway GP standings with 97 points.

“I didn’t need that crash in the first race,” Holder lamented, “I tried to move my hand out of the way, but I hit it and it was definitely sore. It was tough; back-to-back races in my second and third rides sort of killed me. But I am over the moon. This was the aim – to come back for Cardiff. I put myself through the ringer to be here – a lot of pain. I am definitely not one for putting it on. It was definitely sore out there, but it was worth it.”

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Martin Vaculik at Cardiff

Bartosz Zmarzlik, extending his Speedway GP World Championship lead to 24 points, secured third place with a dramatic final turn overtake against Lindgren. His performance sets the stage for the DeluxeHomeart FIM Speedway GP of Denmark – Vojens on September 16, where he has the chance to become the seventh four-time world champion in speedway history.

Reflecting on the event, Zmarzlik said, “I am very happy because this podium feels like a win. I changed everything tonight – I changed bikes, the engine, jets, everything. The whole meeting was really hard. I felt good on the track and I did a good job in the semi-final – I did well in the most important heats today. I am very happy that I am again in the final. I think it was the best track we have had in Cardiff. I really like this place and the track was really nice.”

Photo of FIM Speedway GP rider Martin Vaculik at Cardiff

The FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain – Cardiff is set to return to the iconic Principality Stadium in 2024.

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