SON 2018 | RACE OFF 1 REVIEW
SpeedwayGP.com looks back at the best of the 2018 World Championship action. Today, we feature Monster Energy SON Race Off 1 in Teterow.
11 / 01 / 2019, 11:00
SpeedwayGP.com looks back at the best of the 2018 World Championship action. Today, we feature the inaugural Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations event – Race Off 1 at Teterow on June 2.
It was the first time for 20 years that a world title had been contested over a pairs format. And the brand new Monster Energy SON was always going to see the sport’s most established teams pushed to the limit.
So it was only fitting that Russian racers Artem Laguta and Emil Sayfutdinov started their charge towards the history books with an impressive victory at the Bergring Arena.
Even an up-and-down night for double World Under-21 champion Sayfutdinov couldn’t stop his team.
A massive 16 points from Laguta – as he dropped just one from six rides – inspired Russia into the Finals.
But Sayfutdinov certainly did his job, winning the only race where Laguta missed out on victory when Ukrainian racer Aleksandr Loktaev got between them. He also bagged two seconds behind his team mate and two thirds, suffering just one last place to register nine as Russia ended on 25 points.
It was also a huge night for the hosts as Germany flexed their muscles on the World Championship stage, with Martin Smolinski and Kai Huckenbeck reaching their country’s first world final of the 21st century as they took second spot on 20 points.
Like Russia, they did well to avoid last places – suffering only two. Incredibly, the first of those came at the hands of Denmark when Michael Jepsen Jensen and Kenneth Bjerre grabbed a 4-2 in heat 10.
But a 5-1 and three 4-2s sent them into their final outing against Russia already certain of their place at the Finals in Wroclaw.
Huckenbeck’s huge win over USA legend Greg Hancock in heat 15 was the highlight of an impressive performance, with Smolinski also working overtime to slow his former SGP rival in a true team effort.
With Russia and Germany automatically through, Denmark were forced to compete in the final knock-out heat to earn their spot at the Olympic Stadium.
Slovenia and USA faced off for the right to join them in that race, but it proved a bit of a one-sided affair.
Hancock matched Laguta’s top score of 16 to put USA in contention, with partner Gino Manzares scoring one. Meanwhile, Zagar raced to 14 for Slovenia, aided by two from Matic Ivacic and one from Nick Skorja.
The sides finished on 17 apiece, but qualification was decided long before the knock-out race when Manzares crashed as he chased down Zagar for second place in heat 18.
With the SGP star slowing up to try and help Ivacic make a move, the young American lost control and crashed hard, leaving him unable to continue.
Despite Hancock winning their knock-out race, Zagar and Skorja followed him home, with second and third enough to earn them a showdown with Denmark.
Avoiding that dreaded last place proved critical once again. Despite Zagar taking charge, Bjerre and MJJ kept their cool when it mattered most to deny Slovenia their first ever world final spot and keep the Danish challenge on track.
It was a night of high tension and high drama. But the Monster Energy SON was only just getting started!