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SPEEDWAY GRAND PRIX 2022

Zmarzlik isn’t the life and soul of the party. You won’t see him tearing up cities after a big win. He’s also not keen on media interviews or making bold statements in the press. He’s quite happy to let his riding do the talking; spray his champagne on the podium, and then head back to his village of Kinice near Gorzow to enjoy a quiet life at home with his family, partner Sandra and their baby son Antek.

Having previously won in Malilla in 2017 and 2021, Zmarzlik knew he could put the title race to bed in Sweden. But having also exited at the semi-final stages there three times before, this was equally a potential banana skin.

He negotiated it brilliantly. Zmarzlik started the night by claiming second spot behind compatriot Maciej Janowski in race two, before diving under Robert Lambert coming off turn four in Heat 8 to collect his first win of the night.

Zmarzlik wasn’t having it all his own way, but he’s not afraid of working for his points. He certainly had to graft in race 11, which saw Martin Vaculik hit the front with Tai Woffinden and Oliver Berntzon filling the minor places.

Zmarzlik cut back to the inside on turn four to try and power under the Brit and Swede. He picked off Berntzon, but Woffy came back for more. Zmarzlik simply lined him up again and produced a cutback as neat as a pin on lap two, bend four to snatch a vital second that put him on the brink of the semis.

A spot in the top eight was secured in Heat 14, when he got the better of Jack Holder with a determined chase going into lap three. Zmarzlik passed him in the initial staging of a race that was stopped following a frightening fall for Max Fricke and Pawel Przedpelski, which left the Aussie with a badly wounded thumb and the Pole with an elbow injury. Despite Fricke taking part in the re-run, both pulled out of their final rides.

Zmarzlik’s night was warming up nicely as he came up against nearest rival Leon Madsen in Heat 17. With the Dane starting the night 20 points behind the series leader, it was always going to take a miracle to reel him in.

The maths was simple; Zmarzlik merely had to finish ahead of Madsen in the Malilla classification and it was game over.

This ultimately proved the decisive moment in the title race as Zmarzlik cleared off for victory, while Jason Doyle and Freddie Lindgren left Madsen trailing at the back. Not only had Zmarzlik secured first pick of gates for semi-final two, he also put the pressure squarely on Madsen’s shoulders. He had to better Zmarzlik’s result in the semi-final.

With two wins and two seconds, the 2018 European Champion’s night started well. But it unravelled spectacularly at the worst possible time when he missed the start in the semi-final and was forced to go hard in his pursuit of Woffinden, Lindgren and Vaculik. He suffered a blown engine on turn four and the game was up.

With Madsen not completing the semi-final and Zmarzlik finishing ahead of him in the scorechart after 20 heats, Bartek was guaranteed to score at least 10 championship points, even if he failed to finish his semi, meaning title No. 3 was his.

Camera crews and photographers rushed to his pit bay to cover the celebrations as Team Zmarzlik whipped out their golden shirts, which will surely be selling like hot cakes in their homeland.

What made Zmarzlik’s big moment even more impressive was the transformation when FIM race director Phil Morris gently reminded him he still had a semi-final to compete in. As soon as his helmet went on, his eyes and focus lasered in on the job in hand.

Zmarzlik led Janowski home in semi two, with Britain’s Robert Lambert getting the better of Patryk Dudek for third. The triple World Champion then polished matters off with victory ahead of a hard-charging Lindgren, Janowski and Woffinden in the final.

He may be going to Torun on October 1 to collect a trophy and spray some champagne, but you would have to be brave to bet against Zmarzlik going all out to add another victory to his increasingly golden Speedway GP CV.

The sport’s history contains a number of talented riders who won a single speedway world title and couldn’t muster a second. Zmarzlik is a serial winner, and the scariest thing for his rivals is the best could be yet to come.

• Top two Bartosz Zmarzlik and Leon Madsen chatting

NBARTOSZ ZMARZLIK

EWLY-CROWNED triple World Champion Bartosz Zmarzlik insists he still hasn’t quenched his thirst for victory, despite sealing his third Speedway GP gold medal in four seasons on Saturday.

The Gorzow icon finished the job with one round and two races to spare, becoming the 12th rider to win a hat-trick of titles when nearest rival Leon Madsen crashed out of semifinal one, meaning Zmarzlik had guaranteed top spot before he even took to the shale for semifinal two.

Celebrations ensued in the Zmarzlik pits as they toasted their sixth Speedway GP medal in just seven seasons as rider No. 95 became the

• Tai Woffinden’s not sure where Freddie Lindgren (yellow) and Leon Madsen might attack from

16 speedway star September 24, 2022

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