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RIDER REVIEW | MARTIN VACULIK looks back at how the stars of SGP 2018 got on. Today, we feature Slovak racer Martin Vaculik.

03 / 11 / 2018, 11:35 looks back at how the stars of SGP 2018 got on. Today, we feature Slovak racer Martin Vaculik.

If World Championships were won for triumphing over adversity, Vaculik would have definitely topped the podium this season after showing incredible determination to overcome a badly broken ankle, which would have left a lesser man waiting until 2019 to resume their career.

Vaculik signed a deal with SGB Premiership club Leicester, hoping a stint on Britain’s tight and technical tracks would help him make another stride towards the top of world speedway.

But the move went anything but to plan. On a slippery Swindon track, the Zarnovica-born racer was caught in a three-man pile-up, sliding into the third-bend fence on the fastest part of the track.

With his tibia and talus bones not just broken, but piercing the skin, Vaculik underwent two operations and two months of rehabilitation to fix the damage.

He was forced to miss the opening two SGPs in Warsaw and Prague and his country also had to withdraw from the Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations with his likely partner Patrik Buri breaking BOTH ankles in a horror crash of his own.

But Vaculik grafted hard and despite his ankle only being held together by metalwork, he returned for the WD-40 Danish SGP in Horsens on June 30, winning his opening race in style.

That was something of a false dawn for Vaculik, though, as he failed to score from his remaining rides was later forced to withdraw due to the pain. He managed seven points in total from his first three SGPs in Horsens, Hallstavik and Cardiff, leaving him realistically out of contention for the top eight.

But Vaculik didn’t expect miracles and knew his fight to be fit again wasn’t going to be won overnight.

His patience was rewarded at the Betard Scandinavian SGP in Malilla, where he raced to his first final of the year, finishing fourth with 10 points.

Vaculik was back and he wasn’t going to leave the SGP series without a fight. He then produced one of world speedway’s performances of the season, when he powered around Gorzow team mate Bartosz Zmarzlik – a man in the form of his life – to win the MIB Nordic Gorzow SGP final for the second time in his career.

If his 2012 triumph at the Edward Jancarz Stadium brought him to the world’s attention, his latest success there proved he’s still a force to be reckoned with at this level.

Vaculik scored a solid nine points at the AZTORIN Slovenian SGP in Krsko, before more misfortune struck at the German SGP in Teterow. Vaculik withdrew after a crash in his first ride due to concerns over his shoulder.

But luckily, there was no serious damage and he ended his campaign with eight points in Torun to finish 13th overall with 52.

While it’s fair to say fortune didn’t smile on him in 2018, the SGP Commission were still sufficiently impressed with his efforts to award Vaculik a permanent wild card for the 2019 season.

If Vaculik can bring his end-of-season pace and a clean bill of health into SGP 2019, it could be a year to remember for Slovakia’s finest.


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