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first Polish rider in history to win three world titles.

Incredibly, he still wasn’t done as FIM race director Phil Morris ordered Zmarzlik into action for his own semi-final. He promptly took the chequered flag in that, before winning the final for his 18th Speedway GP win.

While many riders would have easily lost focus in these golden moments, Zmarzlik admits winning was the only thing on his mind – even after realising his dream for 2022.

He said: “After I learned that I am the World Champion before my semi-final race, I was still hungry to win because now victory tastes even better.

“For every meeting I come like a programmed robot, so maybe that is why straight after the Malilla event I couldn’t say what kind of emotions I had. I believe some time must pass before it all sinks in.”

At just 27 years old, Zmarzlik is now halfway towards matching Swedish great Tony Rickardsson and Kiwi legend Ivan Mauger’s jointrecord haul of six world titles. Many riders would be happy with three, but Zmarzlik hints that he has no plans to stop at a hat-trick.

Asked about the prospect of winning No. 4 in 2023, he said: “I have many dreams and I want to do this. But that is in the future. Now I am just happy about this win.

“As for my motivation in the coming weeks, months and years, I would like to ask everyone not to worry too much about me – I still have many dreams to come true!”

Zmarzlik is rightly delighted with his Speedway GP career, which has seen him reach the rostrum every year but one since he joined the series full-time in 2016.

“I am really very happy about this,” he said. “I have been in Speedway GP for seven years and I have made it six medals. That’s really nice, and three times it has been gold.

“I am really proud about this because I know how much work goes into it. Sometimes you do not win everything by doing a good job on the track. The whole season I want to do a good job on and off the track and I love it.”

Zmarzlik admits he couldn’t do it without the help of his family, as brother Pawel junior manages him, father Pawel senior also helps out, mother Dorota takes care of financial matters and his fiancée Sandra and baby son Antek are there supporting him all the way.

“They are all very important for me – my family, my team and my sponsors,” Zmarzlik said. “From the start of my career, my whole family has been with me and in my head, I feel we are fighting together and I am not alone. That’s really good for me because I am very close with my family in life and in my job. The whole family works really hard with me.

“I wanted to win this one in front of my son Antoni. He experienced my second world title in the womb, but this time he was able to see it for himself – maybe he will remember it!”

Zmarzlik was pleased to secure the Speedway GP trophy with a round to spare. He said: “Now I can go to Torun with No. 3 and it makes it so much easier for the head. I can go there a bit more relaxed.”

WORDS: Paul Burbidge PICTURES: Jarek Pabijan

WE KEEP asking where the challenge is going to come from for Bartosz Zmarzlik. I just don’t think there is anyone out there who can consistently match him from week to week.

Tying the championship up with a round to go speaks volumes and it should be something that tells all the riders in Speedway GP next year that it will take something very special to get the title off him.

I raced for 22 years, and I am still searching for speed like that! One thing I know is the current riders don’t have 22 years to find it. In recent years, no-one has been able to match Bartosz for his quality and speed – until Artem Laguta did it last year.

Hopefully we will see his main contender return next year – to defend his own title if you want to say it like that. Hopefully we will have Artem and Emil Sayfutdinov back. Fingers crossed that can happen and then we can give Bartek some competition.

Even with the title won in Malilla, I very much doubt he will back off in Torun. I don’t see that in him, and especially in the last round. He will want to win it, especially with it being in Poland as well. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy that will start testing things. He will want to go out winning.

He knows he has the title in the bag, but I think he will want to win on home soil too. You would be silly not to put your money on him.

LOOKING at how the track was prepared in Malilla, the material looked very thin and light. Then they over-watered it towards the end and it just wasn’t great.

Whether they read the weather wrong, I am not sure. But the dirt looked very tired and used. It showed when riders were trying to use the dirt. It would work in certain races. But a lot of them were getting more grip off the base than they were trying to ride the dirt line.

There only looked to be two guys getting really good drive – that was Leon Madsen early on and Zmarzlik for the majority of the night. We saw Doyley throw the bike all around the place and it looked like everyone was trying, but no-one could get the grip they wanted.

When I watched a few of the races and the way the track materialised after the first few rounds of heats, I was thinking that if Dan Bewley didn’t have his gating gloves on, he was going to struggle.

If you didn’t get the power on the ground, which a lot of riders were struggling with, it was going to be a tough night – and it showed.

I don’t think Dan hit the front once. He learned a hard lesson. When you go to some rounds and the track doesn’t come to you, sometimes you have to make some

Rory’s view...

gambles with set-ups.

I think they did, and they went the wrong way from what I am reading into his interview. In his last two races, he looked a bit more competitive, but gating was definitely a weakness for him on that night.

He was gating a lot better prior to that meeting and he will be disappointed. I thought Malilla would suit him, but with the way track conditions were, it didn’t fall into his hands. He needs to learn that when the track doesn’t come to you, you have to chase the track. Some riders just chased it a little better than him.

ROBERT Lambert rode with his head. He was making some good starts and some good first corners. He made one slight mistake in the semi that cost him. I really think he deserved to be in the final. But that’s what it takes – one small mistake and your night can be over.

The final round is at his home track in Torun, and I can’t see him having an off-night there. He will be dialled in for sure.

I would like to see him get a bronze medal. I think the race for bronze will definitely be the talking point in Torun. Both Patryk Dudek and Robert ride for Torun. But form-wise, I think Robert has been pretty good at Torun for most of the year. It will be a decent battle.

YOU COULD see Tai Woffinden and his team are trying things. I said that a few rounds ago. They are testing and trialling to get what’s right for next year.

You may think he still has to get into the top six, but I am reasonably confident that even if he didn’t, he would get a wild card.

You can see him and his team are testing the waters. He was quick in one race, and it looked like maybe he changed something and just went off the boil. He was very lucky in that race when Andzejs Lebedevs broke down in Heat 18 because I didn’t think he had the pace.

They obviously changed something for the semi because he was very competitive in that one and he wasn’t too far away in the final. He didn’t have the best gate draw – gate two was better than gate one.

But Woffy rides Torun very well and if the track conditions suit him and he has something good between his legs, he will be up there.

Rory Schlein was talking to Paul Burbidge

• Martin Vaculik (red) and Max Fricke

• Semi-final time, Tai Woffinden (red), Leon Madsen (white), Martin Vaculik (blue) and Freddie Lindgren

September 24, 2022 speedway star 17

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