Emil back on top in Bydgoszcz
Russian racer Emil Sayfutdinov believes his World Championship dreams are back on track after winning his first Grand Prix for three and a half years in Bydgoszcz on Saturday night.
Sayfutdinov, who lives in the city, topped the Motorsportwash.com European FIM Speedway Grand Prix podium after overhauling Slovenian hotshot Matej Zagar to win the final, earn 15 points and move up to sixth spot in the overall standings on 21.
Polish legend Tomasz Gollob, who leads the World Championship on 31 points, was third in his home town on 16.
Tai Woffinden did Great Britain proud by finishing fourth and making his maiden Grand Prix final appearance. He is fourth in the standings on 23 points – level with Poland’s Jaroslaw Hampel in third.
Sayfutdinov’s last Grand Prix victory came at the FIM Slovenian SGP in Krsko on September 12, 2009. He also triumphed in Prague and Gothenburg on his way to third in the World Championship that year.
But the Salavat-born man’s 2010 campaign was wrecked by injury and he only really started to get back to his best midway through 2012. With all that behind him, Sayfutdinov is hopeful he can stay on the SGP rostrum and reassert his authority on the World Championship race.
He said: “Of course it’s good to be back in first place. I think I need to keep this form and it will be good for me. I had problems after 2009, but now I’m back. I’m feeling good and I want to keep it like this – being a Grand Prix winner and getting good points. Maybe there will be a chance for the championship?
“Maybe there has been a bit of pressure since 2009. But I haven’t changed anything for this year. I’m just ready now.
“I think this will be good for me. When you’re winning, you feel much better on the bike. You think ‘oh, I’ve done it now. I can do it again.’ We will see if I can …”
Sayfutdinov took five points from his opening two heats, but managed just four in his remaining three. He admits track conditions caught him out, but he was pleased to get things right when it mattered most as he won his semi-final and final.
He said: “In the beginning, the track was a little bit deeper. There was more material. My bike was feeling good. Later, after my second heat, it was completely slick. But I found some good setups when I needed to. It was hard work and I’m very happy. Thanks to my team. They did a very good job.”
Sayfutdinov may have left Bydgoszcz for their Polish Ekstraliga rivals Czestochowa over the winter, but he remains a huge favourite in the city he calls home during the racing season.
He said: “I feel very good because it’s my second town. I have lived here for eight years and I’m really happy to have won here. I have friends and fans here and it was a good night.”
Zagar was pleased to clinch the silver medal – his best SGP finish since he bagged second spot in Prague on August 26, 2006. After scoring just five points at the New Zealand SGP in Auckland on March 23, he was delighted to bounce back with 14 in Bydgoszcz.
He said: “I’m pretty pleased with second place in the end. I was pretty slow and slipping a bit at the start of the season. The trip to New Zealand didn’t do me any good. But now I’m back in Europe and my form is coming better and better with every meeting.”
Gollob may not have clinched his eighth SGP victory at the ZKS Polonia Stadium, but his manager Thomas Gaszynski says 16 points towards his dream of a second world title was a great reward.
He said: “Our aim is always the same – that’s to become world champion. If that means winning 12 rounds, that’s great. If it means not winning a single round, that’s also good.
“Of course we were aiming for a better result. At home Tomek always wants to win, especially in Bydgoszcz. It turned out a little different, but a podium finish is fantastic for us. If we can keep that going, we’ll be okay at the end of the year.”
Woffinden left Bydgoszcz with plenty of reason to be proud, even though he didn’t quite manage his first podium finish. But he isn’t letting his final appearance go to his head and is keen to keep putting in the effort on and off the track.
“It was good,” he said. “I had good speed. It was a good night overall. I’m just building on that. I’m doing everything I can. My engines are good, I’m training hard, I’m eating properly and it looks like it’s paying off. But it’s a long season and anything can happen with speedway, so I’ll just keep working hard.”
Next up for the SGP elite is the Fogo Swedish FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Gothenburg on May 4.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tomasz Gollob 31, 2 Darcy Ward 25, 3 Jaroslaw Hampel 23, 4 Tai Woffinden 23, 5 Nicki Pedersen 22, 6 Emil Sayfutdinov 21, 7 Chris Holder 19, 8 Greg Hancock 19, 9 Matej Zagar 19, 10 Niels-Kristian Iversen 16, 11 Andreas Jonsson 15, 12 Fredrik Lindgren 12, 13 Antonio Lindback 9, 14 Martin Vaculik 9, 15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 16 Krzysztof Buczkowski 6, 17 Jason Bunyan 1.
BYDGOSZCZ SGP SCORES: 1 Emil Sayfutdinov 15, 2 Matej Zagar 14, 3 Tomasz Gollob 16, 4 Tai Woffinden 14, 5 Darcy Ward 13, 6 Nicki Pedersen 10, 7 Chris Holder 10, 8 Niels-Kristian Iversen 9, 9 Jaroslaw Hampel 8, 10 Greg Hancock 8, 11 Krzysztof Buczkowski 6, 12 Martin Vaculik 4, 13 Andreas Jonsson 4, 14 Fredrik Lindgren 4, 15 Antonio Lindback 3, 16 Krzysztof Kasprzak 0, 17 Szymon Wozniak DNR, 18 Mikolaj Curylo DNR.
USA SPEEDWAY MOTORCYCLE LONG TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP AT PERRIS AUTO SPEEDWAY JULY 27th!
(Perris, CA, April 8, 2013) For the first time in three years, Speedway Motorcycle racing will return to Perris Auto Speedway on Saturday, July 27th, when the famous Riverside County clay oval hosts the American Motorcycle Association sanctioned “2013 United States Speedway Motorcycle Long Track Championship.” It will be the first United States Long Track contested in California since legendary Ascot Park closed in 1990.
“Speedway is a great sport and we are looking forward to welcoming it back to The PAS,” promoter Don Kazarian said. “We have hosted a few Speedway events in years gone by, but this one is shaping up to be the best. We are teaming with Steve Evans and Chris Ackerman to help put on what promises to be a great event. They are very impressive to work with and they are already working hard to make this a yearly tradition.”
The race will be run on The PAS inner quarter-mile Track, which is larger than any purpose built Speedway track in the USA.
“This race is very important as we need to be get the U.S. riders on some bigger tracks,” Evans, who came from his native England in 1998, said. “Long Track is its own form of speedway and guys want to go fast. These young guys in particular want to prep themselves to go ride in Europe. What a better way for them than to have a National Championship at a National Championship caliber facility with experienced promoters and speedway people at the helm to make it a big event.”
One of the key ingredients to the success of the race is the field of riders who are competing. Kazarian is leaving that to Evans. Evans has been one of the leaders of the charge for the USA to return to its glory days of 1980s when riders such as superstars Bruce Penhall, the Moran brothers, Bobby Schwartz, Scott Autrey, Sam Ermolenko, Lance King, John Cook and Dennis Sigalos carried the stars and stripes to the top of the Speedway world.
“Steve has done a great job in helping to get the USA back on the international scene and he has done a lot of promoting here in California,” Kazarian said. “We know Steve and Chris will apply their magic to this race and make it a huge success. We are going to have the best field of Speedway riders to ever race at Perris Auto Speedway and that is going to make it our best Speedway event to date.
In addition to the field of riders competing for the Long Track championship, there will be a support class comprised of lower first division and top second division riders. Also on the card will be the extreme sidecars.
“When we first started talking about putting this event on, we sought out some extra input,” Kazarian stated. “We got positive feedback from everyone on the National Long Track Championship and many of them also indicated that we should have sidecars racing, too. Steve agreed with that and the sidecars are going to be a big part of the show.”
“The sidecars are crowd favorites wherever they go, “Evans stated. “They put on a good show. Just having the sidecars at full speed for five races on a track that is over a quarter mile is going to be edge of your seat stuff.”
As soon as the word got out about this National Championship event, interest has been running high with competitors wanting their shot at the prestigious title. As well as the top riders in California, there has been interest from other parts of the country and Canada.
“From the first time this event appeared on The PAS schedule I was getting phone calls and text from riders saying, ‘sign me up and put me on the program,’ Evans laughed. “This may not be every rider’s cup of tea, but there are riders who want to go fast and race this form of speedway and I am thrilled that The PAS has enabled us to do this. Canadian star Kyle Legault, who has raced in both the Elite and Premiere Leagues in England, has expressed an interest and there are riders in the Midwest who race on bigger tracks who have some interest as well. Chris Thomas, who was an AMA #2 road racer, has expressed interest in coming out from Ohio for this race. Long Track is his forte. He came along as an unknown on one of our race tours to England. He was brought there as a reserve and we were amazed. He was on the pace from the first laps. I don’t know that Chris will win the event, but he will definitely be in the mix and scoring some points.”
The format for this history making championship race will be based on the World Long Track Championships staged in Europe.
“It is going to be based on the format that has been used for the last several years,” according to Evans. “It is going to be adapted to suit a one night event. World Long Track is a series. The National Long Track championship is going to be a one night event with the champion decided in the final race. There will be a field of 16 riders and each race will have six riders. Each rider will get four qualifying heats. The top four on points go straight to the final. Riders five through ten in points will go to a last chance race with the top two going straight through to the final. The winner of the final will be National Champion.”
Advance tickets for the historic July 27th 2013 United States Long Track Speedway Championship are available now at the following link: http://pas.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=544027 or by calling -1 800-595-4849.