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SGP STAT SUNDAY | POLAND'S FAB FOUR

On SGP Stat Sunday, SpeedwayGP.com takes a look at the four Poles bidding to become the nation’s third world champion in SGP 2019.

03 / 02 / 2019, 12:47

On SGP Stat Sunday, SpeedwayGP.com takes a look at the four Poles bidding to become the nation’s third world champion in SGP 2019.

Polish hero Tomasz Gollob completed his incredible ride to the top of the sport when he won the FIM Speedway Grand Prix world title back in 2010. It was the moment a man who had largely carried the weight of a nation single-handedly achieved his destiny.

That year saw Jaroslaw Hampel finish second – a feat he repeated in 2013. The following season saw silver medallist Krzysztof Kasprzak go within eight points of 2014 champion Greg Hancock – the closest a Pole has been to winning gold since Gollob’s championship year.

The country has no shortage of World Championship contenders these days with Bartosz Zmarzlik, Maciej Janowski, Patryk Dudek and Janusz Kolodziej all going for glory this year.

But which one is most likely to land the top prize? We look at the runners and riders from Poland …

BARTOSZ ZMARZLIK

The world No.2 came within 10 points of last year’s champion Tai Woffinden as he ensured a grand finale to a title race which looked all but over by the halfway stage.

In the end, Zmarzlik pushed Woffy all the way to the semi-final of the title decider in Torun, winning the Adrian Flux British SGP along the way and reaching four finals.

But with Woffy making eight out of 10, this proved the difference in the final countdown, with Zmarzlik unable to turn five of his nine semis into finals.

That said, brilliant Bartek has often been touted as a potential successor to Gollob – a man who mentored him in his early years at Gorzow.

Zmarzlik truly announced his arrival on the world stage when he won the 2014 Gorzow SGP at just 19 years and 140 days old – he remains the youngest ever SGP winner. Bagging the bronze medal in his full-time SGP debut season in 2016 only enhanced his reputation further.

He’s a man who is clearly here to stay, but a few more members of Poland’s golden generation are out to beat him to the top.

MACIEJ JANOWSKI

Since being taken under the wing of SGP rival Greg Hancock in his younger days, Magic has long been tipped as a future world champion.

Now the pair are rivals and Janowski is showing plenty of signs he has what it takes to mount a sustained title challenge.

Two straight fourth-place finishes in 2017 and 2018 is some feat against the world’s top riders. That’s before we mention Janowski’s five SGP victories – the first of which came at the Latvian SGP in Daugavpils in 2015.

Since then, he has topped the Danish SGP box twice at Horsens, won the Adrian Flux British SGP in Cardiff and triumphed at the Norrbil Swedish SGP in Hallstavik last summer.

Janowski even led the World Championship during the 2017 season, only for a difficult run of form to cost him a medal in the closing stages.

The rostrum will be firmly in his sights once again this time around, but one man keen to get back among the medals is …

PATRYK DUDEK

The Zielona Gora icon has made a whirlwind start to his SGP career. He made a huge impact in 2017 when he claimed a sensational silver medal – the best performance by a debut rider in SGP history. Dudek also won the Torun SGP for good measure.

He was in contention for the medals again last year, winning the AZTORIN Slovenian SGP to go fifth in the standings and just five points off third place with two rounds to go.

But disaster struck when he broke his arm just three days after that Krsko triumph. He dropped to ninth place as he sat out the rest of the season, before receiving a wild-card pick from the SGP Commission.

His rapid progress suggests he too could end Poland’s wait for a world individual champion. But there’s one more man ready to mount a challenge …

JANUSZ KOLODZIEJ

Winner of the 2018 GP Challenge in Landshut, Kolodziej returns to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series for the first time since 2011.

After reaching two finals as a wild card in 2010, he was handed a permanent pick for the following year. But the Leszno man was unable to find his best form, finishing 14th overall with 50 points from his 10 appearances.

However, Kolodziej is used to mixing it with the best in the sport … and winning. He is a triple Polish champion – some feat in speedway’s most competitive nation. This gives him more titles than Zmarzlik, Janowski and Dudek combined and puts him fifth on the all-time list.

He also claimed FIM Speedway World Cup gold with his country at Vojens in 2010 and again at Gorzow in 2011.

Regularly one of the top performers in the PGE Ekstraliga, Kolodziej may not have always enjoyed the limelight of his younger rivals. But he will be ready to mix it up on his return to the big time.

 

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