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SGP LINE-UP OF THE DECADE | TOMASZ GOLLOB

Speedway GP fans have voted for their SGP Line-Up of the Decade. Today, we feature one of its biggest icons – Polish great Tomasz Gollob.

15 / 03 / 2020, 11:40

Speedway GP fans have voted for their SGP Line-Up of the Decade. Today, we feature one of its biggest icons – Polish great Tomasz Gollob.

When the word speedway is mentioned in Poland, one name and one legend springs to mind before all others.

While Poland’s current golden generation carries the weight of expectation collectively, Gollob had the incredible pressure of being his nation’s biggest speedway name for nearly two decades.

Despite some fearing he may go down as one of the greatest riders never to be crowned world champion, Mr G entered the sport’s most elite club in 2010 to cement his status as one of the SGP series’ all-time greats.

Gollob won the very first FIM Speedway Grand Prix event at Wroclaw in 1995 – the year the series replaced one-off World Finals. Despite picking up a number of SGP wins in the years that followed, the closest he had got to world title gold was finishing second in 1999 and 2009.

But that all changed in 2010. Despite finishing with just six points at the opening round in Leszno, Gollob hit back with 16 points and second place at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg.

Victory at the Czech SGP in Prague followed - his first SGP win since 2008. He then added second place in Copenhagen on the night his compatriot Jaroslaw Hampel picked up his maiden SGP win.

After years of Polish fans waiting for a world champion, they had two riders in the world’s top three with Hampel leading the way on 60 and Gollob third on 54, with Kenneth Bjerre sandwiched in between.

If there was going to be a Polish world champ, Gollob was determined to make sure it was him, and delivered one of the performances of his career at the first-ever Torun SGP.

It was a night the locals will never forget as Gollob roared through the competition to claim a seven-ride, 24-point maximum, with Norwegian-born Polish international Rune Holta second and Hampel third – the first time one country had ever dominated an SGP medal rostrum.

Gollob was now three points ahead of Hampel, and while Mr G fell short of the Cardiff final, Jarek made it, finishing third to retake top spot.

A big finish to the season was needed by Gollob and he delivered, starting with third place and 17 points at the Scandinavian SGP in Malilla, where Hampel could only manage 10. Both missed out on the Croatian SGP final, but then Gollob went into overdrive.

First he delivered his second seven-ride max of the season to win the Nordic SGP in Vojens and put one hand on the trophy. He then went to Italian track Terenzano seeking to seal his spot in history.

When Gollob made it into the final, Hampel had to do likewise to stay in the race. He battled furiously with Chris Harris for second place and both hit the line at the same time.

The referee watched multiple replays as tensions mounted in the pits, before Harris was handed second and Gollob was confirmed as champion.

Even a broken leg sustained before the last round in Bydgoszcz couldn’t stop Gollob producing one race win for his hometown fans before wisely retiring from the meeting to save his energy for the celebrations.

He finished fifth in his year as world No.1 in 2011, winning the Danish SGP in Copenhagen, before taking fourth spot in 2012 – claiming what turned out to be his final SGP win at the Scandinavian SGP in Malilla.

His SGP career came to an abrupt end after a heavy crash with Tai Woffinden in Stockholm in 2013 left him with back injuries, before Gollob opted against accepting a wild card for the following season.

He made a cameo appearance as a wild card at the 2015 Warsaw SGP, but sadly the great man was forced into retirement in 2017, when he sustained life-changing spinal injuries in a motocross crash in his homeland.

It was a cruel way for one of the sport’s most naturally-gifted riders to leave the stage. But Gollob’s daredevil style and jaw-dropping passes ensure he will always be one of speedway’s most enduring legends.

 

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