SP2A Speedway News
Speedway GP Round 2 - 1 June 2019 - SloveniaRound 2 of the 2019 Speedway GP Series moves onto Slovenia and the picturesque setting of Krsko’s Stadion Matije Gubca.
This is the largest of the circuits they race on in this year’s series, measuring 388 metres and it is noted as being a real speed track. In recent years an inside gate has, also, proved to be an advantage here so, although the qualifying in Warsaw had no real bearing on the final outcome for Round 1, the ability to choose a prime draw, with two red helmet colour rides, may be a plus this time around.
That said, for the second GP running there was not a full complement of riders there for qualification with six of them, this time, choosing the 'riches' of racing in Poland over the chance to choose their place in the draw. It remains to be seen how long this initiative will last!
Reigning champion Tai Woffinden is the current favourite with most bookies for this event and he is never one to be easily discounted. He had a disappointing start to the campaign in Warsaw, and he will be desperate to bounce back here, but this is a venue where he has failed to fire in the last 3 years and he faces a number of rivals who have, historically, performed well at this track.
One such rider is PATRYK DUDEK who won this event last September in what was to prove his last GP before injury curtailed his season. In his only other appearance here, in 2017, he, also, made the final finishing with a place on the podium in 3rd spot. Of course, he is a man very much in form and, although only finishing in 3rd spot in the final at Warsaw, in round one, he did top score on the evening and is the early pace-setter in the race to be champion this season. He has a tough first ride in the programme (in heat 2) where he lines up in the outside gate against fellow Pole Bartosz Zmarzlik, Freddie Lindgren, who has made the final here in the last 2 seasons and finished runner-up in round one, and the flying Russian Artem Laguta who finished fastest in the qualifying session on Friday evening and had first pick in the draw and, therefore, of favoured gate positions for the evening. If Dudek can get on the score-sheet with a point at least from that first ride that should help set him up for easier-looking rides later in the night and, hopefully, progress to the semi-finals. His current odds make him a good each-way bet.
Jason Doyle has become a bit of a track specialist around here and is seeking his fourth consecutive Slovenian final this year. He should be better suited to this venue than the man-made track of the last round and he looked in good form in his recent outing for Rospiggarna in Sweden, this week, scoring a healthy 14 points.
As mentioned earlier, the fastest qualifier on Friday was ARTEM LAGUTA and, whilst the conditions in qualification are much removed from those of actually race-riding in the heat of battle, it does show that he has got his equipment in good working order and ready for a speed track like this that should suit his style of racing. He had a very mixed night here last season and just missed out on a semi-final spot but he did have two heat wins and if ironing out that inconsistency this year he looks a strong contender for the semi-finals at the very least. His qualification performance means he has chosen to have two rides from the inside gate, which has a 45% win rate in recent years here, and they come at the beginning of his evening, in heat 2, and in the last race of the regular programme of heats. His GP season got off to a very poor start in Poland and he will be keen to start making up for that here and adding to the 3 GP final appearances he made last year.
The first GP of the season was won, of course, by The Dane Leon Madsen in what was, at the age of 30, his first GP as a full-time member of the series. His win in the final was his only heat win of the night but what was most impressive about the performance was that he didn't panic when he started the night off with just two third places from his first two rides. Instead, he stayed calm, made changes to his bike set-up and slowly worked his way into the meeting with 3 second places to just snatch the final semi-final place before gaining his only race win when it really mattered. His confidence boosted, he will be looking to build on that success here.
Vying for favouritism with Woffinden is Bartosz Zmarzlik and, as ever seems to be the way, a strong case can be made for him here. He scored a solid 10 points in Warsaw but was plagued a little by inconsistent rides on the night. It could be that the pressure of trying to perform well in his home country played a part and he was, perhaps, trying just a little too hard at times and, away from that environment, he may be more relaxed here and perform a little better. He made the semi-finals last season and will be looking to go at least one step further this year.
Maciej Janowski finally gets his GP campaign underway here, following injury, and he will be keen to make up for lost ground. He is a big talent but it may be a little too soon following his injury to expect too many fireworks and a watching brief may be the order of the day. In addition, it is not a track he has particularly shone at in the past, making just 2 semi-finals in the last 4 years here.
MARTIN VACULIK is a former winner of this GP, having triumphed here in 2017, and he, also, made the semi-finals last season. He has a reputation as a fast gater and those skills should serve him well at this track. On his day, he has the ability to beat anybody in the world but he is another who is often let down by inconsistency. His performance in round one, in Warsaw, was a classic example of that where, having looked set for the semi-finals, after 3 solid rides had produced 7 points, he trailed in last in his final 2 rides and missed out on the last 8 by a point. He starts off, from gate 1, in a very winnable heat here and he will be hoping to maintain any momentum right through to the end this time. If making the semi-finals, he is more than capable of going the whole way and winning the GP.
Matej Zagar missed out on his home GP last season, due to concussion, and he will be aiming to make for that this year. He has to be respected on home territory but does appear to be a little on the wane now and it is interesting that he has never won his home GP, even when at the peak of his powers.
Reports suggest that there has been work on the track this year in an attempt to alter the previous bias that was in favour of the inside gates but the truth is that we will not really know if this has had any effect until the meeting is well underway and, taking all factors into consideration, the recommended selections for the 2019 Slovenian GP are:-
- PATRYK DUDEK (12/1- general)
- ARTEM LAGUTA (16/1 - standout price with William Hill)
- MARTIN VACULIK (14/1 - Skybet)
All recommended are each-way selections with bookies paying 1/4 odds for the first 3 places.