21.07.18 - British FIM Speedway Grand Prix, Cardiff - Bartosz Zmarzlik of Poland celebrates after winning the British FIM Speedway Grand Prix
Zmarzlik a Pole apart in Cardiff
23rd July 2018, 10:59 am By Graeme Gillespie
Crowd favourite Tai Woffinden had to settle for the runners-up spot after Polish star Bartosz Zmarzlik blitzed the Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix at Principality Stadium with breath-taking speed and skill.
Zmarzlik could hardly contain his delight at the chequered flag in a hotly contested final, punching the air with delight once he knew he had claimed the honours and edged out Woffinden and countryman Maciej Janowski.
The Gorzow and Vetlanda rider’s electrifying starts and sensational speed made him the man to beat in the Welsh capital. But he admits it has been far from an easy start to SGP 2018.
Despite finishing third at the previous round in Hallstavik, Zmarzlik was not content with 23 points in the opening three rounds.
So he’s delighted to have reached the halfway point in the series with a Cardiff victory, and he paid tribute to his team for helping him hit top speed as he became the second straight Polish winner at the Principality Stadium.
Zmarzlik, who follows in the tyre-treads of 2017 winner Janowski, said: “I feel so very good because I won my first GP in Cardiff and this is the third time I have won a GP.
“I’m very happy because my team has worked so very hard all year. They have worked for me and today we got a good result, and that’s for the team – not just for me. The whole team wanted it so badly.
“It has been hard all season for me. I had a little bit of a problem at the start of the GP series. The Polish league and Swedish league were no problem, but sometimes the engines are different for the GP. I didn’t have the right setup. It can be very different with the setup in the GP and I don’t know why. But all the time I am learning with every meeting I do.”
Despite hitting his SGP stride, Zmarzlik isn’t entertaining talk of a medal push. He’s fifth in the standings on 55 points – just four behind Janowski in third and six short of Fredrik Lindgren in second going into the Scandinavian SGP in Malilla on August 11.
He said: “I am only focused on scoring good points and we’ll see what happens after the last round.”
Zmarzlik may not compete regularly in the UK, but he loved his weekend in Cardiff and the support he received from the fans – especially those in Polish red and white, who were well represented in the stands.
He said: “I love racing speedway when there are lots of people – it’s fun to race, but you have to focus when everyone is watching.
“I have to say thank you very much to the Polish fans in Cardiff. There were a lot of people here. It always helps the Polish guys.”
Double world champion Woffinden insists it was job done in Cardiff after he raced to second place and 16 points to extend his World Championship lead from 11 points to 20.
He said: “Obviously it would have been nice to win here for the fans, so I apologise to all the fans for not being able to do that this year. But it will happen one day.
“Do you know what? It doesn’t matter about winning the GP; it’s just another platform to progress towards being world champion.
“In the last few rounds, I have done the job I needed to do and I have extended the lead in every round. The next GP is in Malilla. It’s a track I enjoy racing, so I am really looking forward to that.”
As ever, Woffinden got a raucous reception at the Principality Stadium and hailed his supporters for getting behind him.
He said: “A massive thanks to all the fans – they have been absolutely unreal. I can’t explain how it feels. The Polish boys have it in Warsaw, but here in Cardiff it’s out of this world. It gives you goosebumps, so thank you.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 81, 2 Fredrik Lindgren 61, 3 Maciej Janowski 59, 4 Emil Sayfutdinov 56, 5 Bartosz Zmarzlik 55, 6 Greg Hancock 53, 7 Artem Laguta 47, 8 Patryk Dudek 46, 9 Jason Doyle 40, 10 Chris Holder 38, 11 Matej Zagar 34, 12 Nicki Pedersen 31, 13 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 24, 14 Craig Cook 18, 15 Niels-Kristian Iversen 9, 16 Martin Vaculik 7, 17 Krzysztof Kasprzak 7, 18 Andreas Jonsson 7, 19 Vaclav Milik 6, 20 Michael Jepsen Jensen 4, 21 Maksym Drabik 2, 22 Bartosz Smektala 2, 23 Robert Lambert 1, 24 Mikkel Michelsen 1.
ADRIAN FLUX BRITISH SGP SCORES: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 19, 2 Tai Woffinden 16, 3 Maciej Janowski 12, 4 Greg Hancock 12, 5 Patryk Dudek 10, 6 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 10, 7 Craig Cook 9, 8 Emil Sayfutdinov 8, 9 Chris Holder 7, 10 Fredrik Lindgren 7, 11 Matej Zagar 6, 12 Artem Laguta 6, 13 Nicki Pedersen 6, 14 Jason Doyle 5, 15 Martin Vaculik 3, 16 Robert Lambert 1, 17 Dan Bewley 0, 18 Jason Garrity DNR.