SGP - Round 10 - Torun - Saturday 5th October.
For the final time in 2019 it's over to our experts for their SGP assessment -:The 2019 Speedway GP series comes to a conclusion this Saturday in Torun, Poland and we will finally get to see the new World Champion crowned. Whilst there is a clear favourite for the title, there are still 3 riders in with a chance but one thing is for certain and that is that we will see a brand new name on the roll of honour as none of the 3 men, still in with a realistic chance of winning, has been World Champion before.
Although a number of the GP’s this year have not really lived up to expectation in terms of the racing, it has, often, been an enthralling series with no real clear title favourite emerging until the last couple of events.
The track at Torun is 325m in length and is rated by many as one of the finest and fairest tracks in the world. The racing there in recent seasons has certainly borne out this claim and I think this year will prove to be no exception.
It is a track that quite a number in the line-up will be very familiar with as most of them compete in The Polish League. Torun themselves have just been relegated but they have been a regular fixture in the world’s top league for a number of years. In recent seasons, the club has enjoyed the services of Jason Doyle and Niels Kristian-Iversen so both should know the quickest way round.
The current leader in the series is BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK and, having run TAI WOFFINDEN so close last year, he will feel he has earned his success should he emerge victorious after Saturday night. He is the youngest ever winner of a Speedway GP event and the talent that was there for all to see in those early days has really shone through in the past 18 months. He was a tip for the overall title in our pre-season preview, at 9/2, and he needs a maximum of 15 points to ensure he lifts that first world trophy and that we collect.
He has always been an exciting rider to watch but this year, although averaging slightly less heat wins per GP than last year, he has added that much needed consistency to his armoury. His average points of 13.11 per meeting is up on last year and when making the final he has often made it count – winning 3 of the 5 finals he has appeared in, so far, compared just the 1, at Cardiff, from 4 finals last year.
He rode well here last season, dropping just 1 point in his 5 scheduled rides, before bowing out in the semi-finals. A repeat of that this time around will see him crowned king. He goes very well here and is a strong contender to round of his season with victory.
Just 7 points behind, in second, is EMIL SAYFUTDINOV. The Russian Rocket has shown the best form this season since returning to the series a couple of years ago after a break. He only just sneaked into 8th place last season to qualify for this year and would probably not even have done that but for the injury that curtailed the season of PATRYK DUDEK. He has certainly made the most of his chance however, making 3 finals and winning The Swedish GP in Hallstavik. He closed the gap on ZMARZLIK last time at Cardiff but may have been kicking himself at the end as, having topped the scores in the qualifying heats, he made what looked to be a wrong call with regards to gate position in the semi-final and, by coming 2nd there, lost the initiative for the final where he again finished 2nd. The extra 2 points he could and, maybe, should have claimed may come back to haunt him. He has been suffering from a sickness bug in recent days and missed qualifying as a result. Hopefully, he will be fully recovered come Saturday night and able to give it his best shot.
The third man in with a chance of claiming the title is LEON MADSEN and he sits 9 points back from the leader. He has been the surprise package to many this season and, despite riding with a couple of injuries, gave himself one last crack at claiming the crown here by winning in Cardiff. On his day he is very fast and can be quite ruthless on the track (remind anybody of another Dane from recent times??). He is very driven and will keep fighting until the last here. He has had an excellent season in Poland this year and this track may well suit him. He is definitely another for the short-list for this GP and it is no surprise to see him at the head of the betting market.
Whilst most eyes will be on the race for the title, there is also plenty to play for lower down the standings with a few riders desperate to glean enough points to finish in the top 8 to ensure an automatic place in next year’s GP series.
The man just outside the top 8, by a single point, is former World Champion JASON DOYLE. He looked more like his old self at Cardiff a fortnight ago, making the final and getting within spitting distance of the automatic spots for 2020. I’m sure, being an ex-Champion, he would get one of the ‘wild card’ places should he not make the top 8 but he will want to take the decision out of the equation by qualifying in his own way here. As a rider who has ridden for Torun in recent seasons, he will know his way round this circuit and, as he is in good form currently, is a bit of a ‘dark horse’ to win this GP. It would not surprise me to see him make the semi-finals at the very least and, maybe, even the final and that should be enough to secure a top 8 spot. I think he will be in the top 8, one way or another, by the end of this meeting.
Of those currently in the top 8 spots, the one who looks to be the most vulnerable is PATRYK DUDEK who currently sits in 7th spot (just 2 point ahead of Doyle). His form has tailed off alarmingly after a very strong start to the series. Indeed, as recently as mid-June, he was joint leader of the series, after 3 rounds where he had made the final on each occasion. He had 40 points after that 3rd round stage whilst now, after 9 rounds, he has moved up to just 75 points. He appears to have lost a lot of speed and has looked devoid of confidence in recent events, scoring just 3 points at both Cardiff and at Vojens before that. He was very unfortunate with injury last year and missed this event but he did win here in 2017. He will need to bounce back to form in a major way if he is to win here.
Another rider who will be hoping to make a late entry into the top 8 is ARTEM LAGUTA. The Russian found himself just outside the top 8 last season when coming into this final event but he put on a superb display of riding that night, winning all 5 of his programmed rides and then his semi-final, before finishing 2nd in the final to TAI WOFFINDEN. It has been a very inconsistent series for Artem, this year, and he has only made 1 final appearance compared to the 3 he made last year. His performance in the last round, at Cardiff, epitomised his inconsistency when, after winning his first 2 heats, he trailed in last in each of his 3 subsequent rides. He is very popular with the Polish crowds and now lives not far from Torun in Bydgoszcz and he will be hoping to repeat his performance from 12 months ago to catapult him into the top 8. This fast circuit should suit him.
Last season’s event was won in brave fashion by TAI WOFFINDEN and that was the best way possible to clinch the title. 12 months on and he comes here under a completely different scenario. His title chances were effectively ended early on through injury, meaning he missed 2 events, but he has not found any speed since his return and, with a ‘wild card’ surely guaranteed, he has to now focus on returning next year with renewed vigour. He did show positive signs at Vojens, a month ago, but suffered another disappointing night at Cardiff last time. Difficult to see him winning again here.
A rider with an excellent GP record at this track is NIELS-KRISTIAN IVERSEN although that should not be a big surprise given that this has been his home track in The Polish League.
He has ridden in the Torun GP on 4 occasions in the last 6 years and he has made the final on each appearance, including winning the event in 2016.
His form in the GP’s this season has been a little patchy but he has made 2 finals and has already secured qualification for next year, alongside MATEJ ZAGAR, by virtue of a top 3 finish at The GP Challenge in August. That will have relieved much of the pressure on him and he has admitted to ‘trying a few things out’ in recent GP’s with that pressure lifted. He is part of the Ipswich side that has just secured a play-off spot in the British Premier League so he will be looking for a nice domestic/GP double win to end the season on a high.
Given his fine record in this event, his current form and his local track knowledge, NKI looks a decent each-way bet at the stand-out odds of 25/1 with Skybet.
The wild card for this GP is, in fact, a former winner of the event. ADRIAN MIEDZINSKI won here way back in 2013 on what was his only GP appearance of that year. He rode twice in the following season but this is his first appearance in the series since then. He is another who has ridden for Torun in recent years and local track knowledge will be in his favour. He is another who could go well at big odds and will have some vociferous home crowd support.
Torun is a track where there is usually plenty of passing and, after the ‘gate and go’ track we saw at Cardiff, it is to be hoped that this is the case once again this year. If it is then the draw becomes less important than usual and we can focus on riders who like this circuit and who are in form.
BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK certainly falls into both of these categories and he will enjoy nothing more than following in the footsteps of his mentor Tomasz Gollob by becoming a Polish Champion at a track on which he has never scored less than 13 points.
LEON MADSEN will, undoubtedly, be fired to go well here, and that showed in qualifying where he qualified with the fastest lap time, but his odds are a little bit restrictive to advise him as an each-way selection. Two riders who do look over-priced, however, are ARTEM LAGUTA and NIELS-KRISTIAN IVERSEN. They have proven form at this circuit and both can be given sporting each-way chances at their current odds.
The selections therefore for The Polish GP in Torun are:-
1. BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK - 11/2 (Bet 365)
2. ATREM LAGUTA - 16/1 (General)
3. NIELS-KRISTIAN IVERSEN - 25/1 (Skybet)
E/w terms – 1st 3 places at ¼ odds.