words: PETER OAKES
BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK YOU can’t have a bigger winner than the World Champion. And in Zmarzlik’s case, he joined what is one of the rarest clubs of all – a Polish World Champion. Only Jerzy Szczakiel (1973) and Tomasz Gollob (2010) had already been enrolled in this particular club as Bartosz followed up his 2018 second place to become Poland’s third champ.
He might have trundled behind Leon Madsen for much of the season but he was probably everyone’s favourite to finish up with the gold medal and that’s exactly what he did. The battles between him, Madsen and our own Tai Woffinden make for an interesting few years ahead and who knows who might come along to join the party. RUSSIA ADMITTEDLY, they had home track advantage with the Speedway of Nations Final being at Togliatti, but Emil Sayfutdinov, Artem Laguta and young reserve Gleb Chugunov at least could say this time they were the competition’s highest scorers overall, even if they did finish runners-up to Poland after the two main events.
They had to go through a qualifying race against Australia (won because they packed the minor placings behind Jason Doyle) but despatched the Poles with a maximum points win in the last race of all.
IT’S that time of the year again. The last Speedway Star of the second decade of the 21st century and here’s our annual look back at the year that is almost behind us. So who were the WINNERS and who were the LOSERS in 2019? We trawl back through the ups and downs of a season in which we saw the crowning of a new World Champion, the totally unexpected decision of powerhouse Poole to drop out of the top-flight and so many other events that helped to make speedway what it is. A totally unpredictable sport in so many ways. As always, we beg those who have been branded as a LOSER not to take it all that seriously – but, of course, those who figure among our WINNERS can truly rejoice
What a year for Alun Rossiter and Swindon. Picture: LES AUBREY
only the second time in play-off history that a team had won all four legs of the semi-final and final matches, the previous time being in 2010 when Coventry got the double over Peterborough in the last four and then beat Poole home and away in the Final. ALUN ROSSITER APROPOS the previous entry (Swindon), it should be noted that the manager of the Coventry team that won all four of its play-off matches was none other than Alun Rossiter, who was also in charge of the successful Swindon side last season.
The only down side to their success in retaining the title (and they are still the competition’s only winners) was the criticism of the slick track at the Anatoly Stepanovs Stadium. THE PREMIERSHIP NOTHING too special about how the end-of-season table looked, with Poole at the top… but closer inspection underlined why there was such interest in the race for the play-offs.
It means he has now won four top-flight titles, Coventry in 2010 and Swindon in 2012, 2017 and 2019. An enviable record by any standard. FIM THE money keeps on rolling in…and the world’s governing body have certainly hit the jackpot after agreeing a new contract with Eurosport Events, who already had a toe in the FIM waters as they lapped up Endurance events as long ago as 2015.
Only two points separated third-placed Wolverhampton and fifth-placed Belle Vue, which provided excitement in itself.
You could also argue it was only in the final throes of the precut-off play-off date that King’s Lynn slipped out of the race for the top four and, overall, it was one of the most competitive seasons for years with Ipswich gate-crashing the usual suspects in their first season back in the top-flight for yonks.
The new World No. 1: Poland’s Bartosz Zmarzlik. Picture: JAREK PABIJAN
SWINDON CHAMPIONS again – and deservedly so as they demolished the opposition in the play-offs.
After dismissing the muchfancied Wolverhampton in the semi-finals (49-39 at Monmore
Green and 58-32 in the return leg), they then went on to make it four wins in a row with victory at Foxhall Heath (49-41) and again at Blunsdon (62-27) to end Ipswich’s fairy-tale dream.
What was largely overlooked in all the celebrations is that it was
One of their main bargaining points to land the deal was that they would launch a world championship within five years and they achieved that goal so successfully that a new 10-year rights agreement was signed and sealed last April.
The working relationship between the two parties allowed the FIM to trouser another huge wad of money when they refused to extend BSI’s contract as speedway’s major rights-holders
42 speedway star December 28, 2019