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SGP ICONS | JAROSLAW HAMPEL

In this week’s SGP Icons, we feature one of the men who inspired Poland’s golden generation – double SGP silver medallist Jaroslaw Hampel.

20 / 11 / 2018, 12:57

In this week’s SGP Icons, we feature one of the men who inspired Poland’s golden generation – double SGP silver medallist Jaroslaw Hampel.

While Tomasz Gollob goes down as Polish speedway’s all-time great, there was one man who very nearly denied the Bydgoszcz-born legend the sport’s biggest prize back in 2010.

Hampel had two runs in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series. His first began in 2004 and he immediately made his mark by finishing second at back-to-back SGPs in Prague and Wroclaw on his way to eighth in the World Championship.

He was unable to reach those heights again in the following three seasons, finishing 11th after missing three rounds in an injury-hit 2005, ninth in 2006, which saw him reach three finals, and 13th in 2007 – sitting out another three rounds due to injury.

This saw him out of the SGP line-up and Hampel had to fight his way back in with third place at the 2009 GP Challenge in Coventry.

Two years away clearly worked wonders. Hampel immediately finished second at the 2010 European SGP in Leszno on his return as he went on to reach five out of the first six finals.

There’s no doubt the highlight was his victory at the Danish SGP in Copenhagen on June 5 – his first ever SGP victory, which put him top of the standings.

This sparked an unforgettable year for Polish fans as Gollob immediately hit back with a sensational seven-ride maximum to win the next round in Torun, where Rune Holta and Hampel joined him on the podium in an historic one-two-three for the hosts.

Hampel responded in Cardiff, though, regaining the World Championship lead with third place there. But this was his last final appearance of the year and Gollob took full advantage, winning in Vojens and Terenzano to seal the title with a round to spare.

Despite falling 29 points short of Gollob, Hampel had proved himself a force to be reckoned with and raced to third place in the 2011 series, topping the box at the Scandinavian SGP in Malilla along the way.

A broken ankle knocked him out of contention for much of 2012, but he bounced back in style, claiming his second silver medal and three SGP victories in Auckland, Gorzow and Krsko in 2013.

Hampel fell just nine points short of champion Tai Woffinden and that proved his closest brush with gold.

He had to make do with eighth in 2014, racing to a 21-point maximum at the Scandinavian SGP in Stockholm to save his SGP career as he appeared on the verge of crashing out of the series.

Things appeared to be going far better in 2015 as he started the season with two finals in the opening three rounds. But his SGP career came to a cruel halt when he suffered a spiral fracture to his leg in Event 1 of the FIM Speedway World Cup at Gniezno on June 6.

A serious injury ended his season and, despite receiving a wild card from the SGP Commission, he was unable to take his place in the 2016 series either.

Hampel hasn’t appeared in the series since, but he remains one of the PGE Ekstraliga’s top performers, helping Leszno to their second straight title this season. He was also second in the 2018 Speedway European Championship.

While he never won the World Championship, Hampel is the proud holder of six SWC gold medals with his country.

It’s a record the current generation of Bartosz Zmarzlik, Maciej Janowski and Patryk Dudek will be keen to surpass. But there’s no doubt Poland’s dominance began in the Gollob and Hampel era.

 

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