An exciting new era of FIM Speedway started with a familiar result as Poland’s double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik triumphed in the FIM Speedway GP of Croatia, Saturday night, April 30.
Zmarzlik zoomed to victory ahead of fellow Polish star Maciej Janowski and Danish racer Mikkel Michelsen, who was third in his first-ever Speedway GP final. Danish champion Anders Thomsen took fourth place in only his second final appearance.
The event marked the start of Discovery Sports Events’ 10-year tenure as FIM Speedway global promoter, as well as the first Speedway GP in Croatia since 2012. And fans were treated to some fantastic action as Zmarzlik topped the podium.
The Gorzow and Lejonen star was delighted to win the opening round of a series for the first time in his Speedway GP career, securing the maximum 20 championship points as he mastered a tight and technical Speedway Stadium Milenium track.
Zmarzlik, who made a rapid dash from Polish city Grudziadz after racing for his PGE Ekstraliga club Gorzow on Friday night, said: “I am very happy because I have never won the first round.
“I am feeling nice, but a little bit tired because on Friday I had a meeting and I was feeling a little bit up and down.
“After the first few races, I didn’t have a very good feeling on the bike on this track. But after four races, I felt much better with set ups and I felt much better on the bike. I am very happy I won.
“After my last meeting on Friday, I came here and did a few practice laps. For me, it is a very small track and I didn’t have a very good feeling in the corners – it’s too small for me. But after more racing, I liked the track more.”
Zmarzlik has been marked by many pundits as a favourite in this season’s Speedway GP title race, and the excitement will only build ahead of his country’s biggest speedway event, the FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Warsaw at the iconic PGE Narodowy on May 14.
But having become Poland’s first two-time world champion Zmarzlik has become accustomed to managing such high expectations and ignoring the hype.
He said: “I really don’t look at this because I love my job, my speedway. In my life, there is only family and speedway and that’s it. Of course, winning is important. But it’s not good for my head just to focus on that.”
Runner-up Maciej Janowski finished ninth in qualifying practice, but topped the heat scorechart on 13 race points, before ending the night with 18 championship points for second place.
He said: “I feel very good. We started well. From the beginning, we found a good setup. Maybe we didn’t see that in qualification, but when we came to the tapes, everything was working pretty well. I am very happy with my points. It was a solid night.”
European Champion Michelsen was delighted to start his series by reaching his first Speedway GP final.
He said: “Obviously I am very satisfied with that. I am very happy with my third position. When you are in the final, you would like to be standing on the top step. But the points are the most important in such a long series.
“I am very happy with third position. It’s a track where I haven’t had good results in the past. So I have to take the positives.”
FIM SPEEDWAY GP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 20, 2 Maciej Janowski 18, 3 Mikkel Michelsen 16, 4 Anders Thomsen 14, 5 Leon Madsen 12, 6 Matej Zagar 11, 7 Robert Lambert 10, 8 Jason Doyle 9, 9 Fredrik Lindgren 8, 10 Martin Vaculik 7, 11 Dan Bewley 6, 12 Patryk Dudek 5, 13 Tai Woffinden 4, 14 Jack Holder 3, 15 Max Fricke 2, 16 Pawel Przedpelski 1, 17 Nick Skorja 0, 18 Dennis Fazekas 0.