VACULIK’S HOME FROM HOME
Slovakia’s Martin Vaculik eyes Prague glory at ANLAS Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix on Saturday.
14 / 06 / 2019, 10:00
Slovak star Martin Vaculik is ready to make himself at home in Prague, but admits his Marketa Stadium experience may count for little in the ANLAS Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix this Saturday.
Bratislava-based Vaculik crosses the border for his nearest SGP event to home and will be looking to put his Czech league experience with Slovak club Zarnovica to good use against the sport’s top stars.
Polish duo Bartosz Zmarzlik and Patryk Dudek currently lead the World Championship charge on 28 points with Leon Madsen third on 26 and Vaculik handily placed in fourth on 24.
I need to fight for a win here because I definitely want to fight for the rest of the year.
A big night in Prague could send Vaculik top of the standings, but he believes a fair Marketa Stadium track will ensure a close contest.
He said: “I’ve already been there for one of the Czech league meetings this season. But it’s a pretty simple track. It’s a good track for everyone.
“I don’t know if my experience there will pay or not. Many people like the track, but I do also. I really like it. I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
The Czech Republic and Slovakia may no longer be one country, but Vaculik admits he loves racing and spending time in Prague.
He said: “In the Czech Republic, I feel at home. A few years ago, our countries were together as one and now they are separate. But we still have a very good relationship between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
“I feel very good in Prague. I love the city of Prague. It’s a very nice city – one of my favourites in the world.”
Incredibly, nine of the last 15 Czech SGP winners have been crowned world champion in the same season.
It’s an omen Vaculik would love to capitalise on. He said: “That’s why I’d like to win the GP in Prague! I need to fight for a win here because I definitely want to fight for the rest of the year.”
The Zielona Gora hero finished second at the last round in Slovenia on June 1, scoring a huge 17 points out of a possible 21.
He led the final, only to be passed by Bartosz Zmarzlik, with the Pole taking revenge for Vaculik’s incredible move that saw him pip the world No.2 to victory in the MIB Nordic Gorzow SGP last summer.
While he missed out on top spot, Vaculik was delighted with a point tally which could prove pivotal in the final championship shake-up.
He said: “That was the main thing in Krsko – to collect the most points possible. I took many points and now I’m in a good position in the standings.
“There are still many meetings in front of me, so I’ll keep focused and I am looking forward to every round.
“Bartek was very fast that day and he 100 percent deserved the win. I’m happy with my second place, but I’m most happy to score so many points. That was the main goal for the evening.”
Two world champions miss the action in Prague this weekend, with Greg Hancock absent as he cares for wife Jennie, who is battling breast cancer.
Meanwhile, Woffinden is sidelined for at least a month with a broken TH4 vertebra, broken shoulder blade and a bruised lung suffered at Polish track Lublin last Friday.
Their places are taken by SGP series reserves Robert Lambert of Great Britain and Max Fricke from Australia.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 28, 2 Patryk Dudek 28, 3 Leon Madsen 26, 4 Martin Vaculik 24, 5 Niels-Kristian Iversen 21, 6 Fredrik Lindgren 20, 7 Emil Sayfutdinov 19, 8 Tai Woffinden 15, 9 Robert Lambert 15, 10 Artem Laguta 13, 11 Matej Zagar 13, 12 Antonio Lindback 13, 13 Jason Doyle 11, 14 Janusz Kolodziej 11, 15 Bartosz Smektala 10, 16 Maciej Janowski 4, 17 Max Fricke 3, 18 Matic Ivacic 2.
ANLAS CZECH SGP LINE-UP (in FIM ranking order with rider numbers): 46 Max Fricke (Australia – substitute for 108 Tai Woffinden), 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), 66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden), 71 Maciej Janowski (Poland), 505 Robert Lambert (Great Britain – substitute for 45 Greg Hancock), 222 Artem Laguta (Russia), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 89 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia), 692 Patryk Dudek (Poland), 55 Matej Zagar (Slovenia), 54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 333 Janusz Kolodziej (Poland), 88 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 85 Antonio Lindback (Sweden), 30 Leon Madsen (Denmark), 16 Vaclav Milik (Czech Republic – wild card), 17 Zdenek Holub (Czech Republic – first track reserve), 18 Ondrej Smetana (Czech Republic – second track reserve).