Australian Max Fricke has successfully negotiated the GP challenge and has qualified for next year’s World Championship.
“It definitely takes the pressure off, knowing that I am in the championship next year. But hopefully we don’t need this place. That’s the aim of the game. Now I can go out and focus on every GP and try and put in the best possible results to finish off the year,” Fricke said.
Polish racer Pawel Przedpelski admits he’s in dreamland after crowning the week he became a father by booking his place in the 2022 FIM Speedway Grand Prix series alongside Fricke and Patryk Dudek.
The Torun icon topped the GP Challenge podium in Zarnovica to take his place in the SGP World Championship for the first time next year.
Przedpelski tied on 12 points with Aussie champion Fricke, but triumphed in a run-off to win the meeting, while Fricke secured his SGP status for next year – regardless of where he finishes in the SGP 2021 standings.
Meanwhile, former world No.2 Dudek bagged third place on 11 points to earn an SGP World Championship comeback after just a season away.
Victory capped a week Przedpelski will never forget after he welcomed daughter Rozalka into the world along with partner Michalina on Tuesday.
The elated 26-year-old said: “I can’t believe it. This week couldn’t have been better for me. On Tuesday my daughter came into the world. That was unbelievable. Today I got into the GP, so it is like a dream. It cannot be real. It is a beautiful day.”
Przedpelski stormed to 11 points from his opening four rides to put himself within touching distance of qualification.
He found himself at the back in race 18 behind Dudek and Jan Kvech, but Przedpelski powered past Slovakian racer Jakub Valkovic for third going into bend three to snatch the point that sealed his spot on the sport’s biggest stage.
Fricke endured a difficult start, fighting his way past former Belle Vue team mate Dan Bewley for third in heat four as he finished behind Przedpelski and Andzejs Lebedevs.
The Victorian ace racked up 11 points from his remaining four rides, rounding them off by winning a ferocious battle with compatriot Chris Holder to take victory in race 19 and seal a podium place.
But the Zielona Gora and Indianerna star is still targeting qualification via the SGP 2021 top six – even with his spot for next year secure.
Dudek raced to two seconds and a third in his opening three heats. But he delivered a flawless finish, winning races 13 and 18. The Falubaz hero admits he was concerned after his opening rides. But he said: “Now I feel perfect. After three heats, I said ‘it’s not my day. I am unlucky today.’ But now, my plan is 100 percent complete – I am back in Speedway Grand Prix. My fans are waiting to watch the Green Machine on the track. I’ll see you soon!” Dudek’s fellow Polish star Janusz Kolodziej could have sealed a spot in SGP 2022 with second place in heat 20. But the Leszno man was left languishing at the back after a nightmare start and first turn, sending Dudek through.
Kolodziej had to make do with fourth spot on 10, although it could still be enough to secure his place in SGP 2022 in the event Fricke finishes in the 2021 SGP World Championship’s top six.
The Leszno man said: “We will see what happens this year in the GP with Max. If I am lucky, maybe I will get in there next year. But today I am fourth and at this moment I can do nothing more.
“My first and last heats were not so good. In the middle, it was only good. But this is speedway. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. Today the track was not perfect to pass and ride at full throttle. But I did what I could.”
Kolodziej’s 10-point haul was matched by German ace Martin Smolinski in fifth. The Bavarian roared to victory in his opening two heats, before finishing second to Przedpelski in heat nine. But third places in his final two rides saw him fall short of a remarkable SGP comeback – just 15 months after recovering from serious hip and nerve injuries, which could have ended his career.
Latvian international Andzejs Lebedevs missed out on nine, while 2012 world champion Chris Holder, Dan Bewley, Jevgenijs Kostigovs and Jan Kvech all collected eight points.
GP CHALLENGE SCORES: 1 Pawel Przedpelski 12+3, 2 Max Fricke 12+2, 3 Patryk Dudek 11, 4 Janusz Kolodziej 10, 5 Martin Smolinski 10, 6 Andzejs Lebedevs 9, 7 Dan Bewley 8, 8 Chris Holder 8, 9 Jevgenijs Kostigovs 8, 10 Jan Kvech 8, 11 Nicolai Klindt 7, 12 Tobiasz Musielak 6, 13 Robert Lambert 6, 14 Adam Ellis 4, 15 Rohan Tungate 1, 16 Jakub Valkovic 0, 17 Vaclav Milik 0.
(Additional reporting by Gerry Sims.)