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Speedway GP - Saturday 17th August

We are now at the half-way point in the 2019 Speedway GP Series and the second-half of the programme kicks off in Sweden and at The G&B Arena in Malilla to be precise, where the riders will be competing in The Scandinavian Grand Prix.

 

It’s the 14th time this venue has held a GP and, measuring 305 metres, it is rated as one of the best tracks used in the GP series and has produced some excellent racing in the past.

 

As often seems to be the case with this venue, however, there is a threat of rain!

 

The series is hotting up very nicely indeed at the moment with 3 riders (Zmarzlik, Madsen and Sayfutdinov) all tied at the top with 61 points and Vaculik just 2 points behind on 59. All 4 of these riders will be hoping to take control of the title race and all of them can be given a good chance of taking first spot here.

 

BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK won the last event, in Wroclaw, and he is a former winner here too. He triumphed in 2017 when sweeping through on the last lap to deny 2 Swedes in the final and dampening the enthusiasm of the locals. He followed that up with a creditable performance last year when winning his first 4 rides and taking 14 points in the main body of the meeting before falling on the first bend in his semi-final and earning himself an exclusion. This is clearly a track at which he goes well and he has been in good form in The Swedish League this season. He is a worthy favourite once more.

 

The surprise packet of the season so far, for many, has been LEON MADSEN. The 30 year-old Dane qualified for the series as a wildcard entry but has been a revelation in making 4 of the 5 finals so far and winning the opening GP of the season. He has been a doubt in the build-up to this meeting following a crash at Czestochawa last Friday, which forced him to pull out of last week-ends European Championship Round in Vojens, but he will be determined to ride and put on another strong show.

 

The other co-leader, EMIL SAYFUTDINOV, is having his best GP season since returning to the series in 2017 after a 4 year absence. He, of course, has already won one GP in Sweden this year, having triumphed in Hallstavik last month, and will be looking to keep up the momentum here after performing well, once more, in Wroclaw last time out when winning 4 races on his way to the semi-final. He didn’t perform too well at this venue last year but he has made a final here in the past, and a couple of semi-finals, and there is no doubt that he is riding better than at any time in the past 6 years. Always a popular performer, there will not be many who would begrudge him another win here.

 

Hot on the heels of the co-leaders is MARTIN VACULIK and he has been performing with much consistency so far this year. He was another wildcard pick, having had his season disrupted by injury last season and is proving a good pick. He is yet to win a GP this time around but he has made the final on 3 occasions and it is that consistency that has put him right into contention this year. He made the final here last year and the semi-finals the year before. He has to be on the shortlist here once more.

 

This venue is the home track for Swedish Elitiserien side Dackarna and there are 3 riders in here who can, therefore, call it ‘home’ as they ride for that club. They are Patryk Dudek, Maciej Janowski and, the wildcard for the round, Jacob Thorssell.

 

PATRYK DUDEK is currently sitting in 5th in the race to be World Champion, only 6 points adrift of the leaders, and a good showing here will put him right back in the mix. He has been steady rather than spectacular in the series so far but does have a lot of talent and is capable of beating anybody on his day. The fact that he rides here regularly should be a help and he did make the semi-final here last year.

 

His compatriot, and Dackarna team-mate, MACIEJ JANOWSKI had a frustrating start to this year’s campaign with injury but has shown signs of getting back to his best in the last couple of GP’s with a place in the final at Hallstavik and a semi-final place last time out in Wroclaw. He has been in decent form in The Swedish League recently and has done well on his home track in the last 3 GP’s held here. He made the final in 2017 and reached the semi-finals in the years either side of that. I expect him to be in the mix again this year.

 

JACOB THORSSELL completes the trio of Dackarna riders competing on the home circuit and he earned his wildcard pick courtesy of winning The Swedish National at the end of July. That victory was a welcome one for him as he has not been having the best of seasons, so far, either in Sweden or for, his British club, Wolverhampton. There have been some green shoots of possible form recovery in recent weeks and his confidence will have been well boosted by his National Title success. This does look a tough ask for him, however, despite his home-track knowledge and his odds in the betting are a fair reflection of his chances.

 

His fellow Swede, FREDDIE LINDGREN, however is one who I think is under-estimated by his current odds. He has made the final at this circuit in each of the last 2 years and, with a home crowd cheering him on, he will be looking to make amends for a below-par effort last time in Wroclaw, where he scored just 5 points. He has been rather inconsistent so far in this year’s series but still finds himself in 6th spot in the standings. He started off the season strongly, with a 2nd place in Warsaw, but since then has just reached 2 semi-finals and had disappointing returns from his other 2 outings. He rode here for 8 seasons earlier in his career and, of course, being a regular in The Swedish League, will now his way round the circuit. At a best price of 20/1, he looks to have been somewhat over-looked by the bookies and I will be surprised if he doesn’t make the semi-finals at the very least.

 

Another who looks over-priced is MATEJ ZAGAR. He is clearly not the force he once was but he did finish 2nd in this event last year. He is an excellent gater and, if on a going day, is more than capable of holding his own against the very best. If he gets some favourable gate draws, he could spring a surprise at odds of 50/1.

 

TAI WOFFINDEN returned to action, after an injury lay-off, at the last GP and, with a further 2 weeks fitness and racing under his belt, it would be a surprise to see him play a leading role here. He has had some encouraging performances in both Poland and Sweden since then and he will be hopeful of making a big impact here. He is a former winner of this event, triumphing in 2014, and it would not surprise anybody were he to make the final again here. The bookies are certainly not taking much chance with him however at just 6/1.

 

The GP series this year is really wide-open and the current position with the title-race standings clearly illustrates this. This GP also typifies how close it is this year and it’s difficult to rule out many of the 16 riders that will be on show here. 

 

It is difficult to see BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK not playing a big part in the final stages of the meeting and he is a worthy favourite. His current odds allow a little ‘wriggle room’ if choosing to bet each-way whilst, at bigger odds, it may be worth an each-way wager on both MARTIN VACULIK and FREDDIE LINDGREN.

 

In summary, recommended bets are:-

 

1. BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK  - 9/2 (Skybet)
2. MARTIN VACULIK      - 12/1 (BET 365)
3. FREDDIE LINDGREN  - 20/1 (BET 365)
Each-way terms – ¼ odds for first 3 places.

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