May 23, 2024
Speedway Hub - British Speedway News

Zmarzlik focused on racing not breaking records ahead of Speedway GP opener in Croatia

Zmarzlik focused on racing not breaking records ahead of Speedway GP opener in Croatia

Polish icon Bartosz Zmarzlik insists he will leave others to keep track of his astonishing statistics as he bids to set a FIM Speedway all-time record at the Boll FIM Speedway GP of Croatia on Saturday.

Sixteen riders from 10 different countries battle it out at the Speedway Stadion Milenium in Donji Kraljevec in the opening round of the 2024 Speedway GP World Championship.

Zmarzlik has topped the podium at the past two season-openers in Croatia on his way to becoming a four-time Speedway GP world champion, and he has now led the Speedway GP standings non-stop since April 30, 2022.

He clinched world title No.4 with victory at last year’s final round in Torun – matching Aussie great Jason Crump’s all-time record of 23 Speedway GP wins in the process. A third straight victory at Speedway Stadium Milenium would see Zmarzlik surpass this figure.

Speedway GP victory No.24 would further cement the 29-year-old’s status among the sport’s all-time greats. But Zmarzlik insists he will leave others to measure his achievements while he focuses on delivering his best form on the track.

Asked about matching Crump’s tally of 23, Zmarzlik said: “I am very happy and really very proud about this. Jason also has 23, and he is a big name for me. I remember when I was very young and watching Speedway GP. He was always a big star – along with people like Greg Hancock, Tony Rickardsson and Tomek Gollob.

“He is a big hero in my eyes and now I am at the same level maybe. I have the same number of GP wins as Jason. This is important, but I am not noting in my book how many points or podiums I get – it’s more the other people around me that talk about this.

“I always look at myself and just do everything I can to make everything the best it can be this year. How many wins or points I get; we will see after the season.”

The Speedway GP class of 2024 pose in Paris ahead of the new season. PHOTO: Taylor Lanning

THE CONTENDERS

Zmarzlik knows he cannot afford to stand still as the world’s top riders chase him down, with Swedish icon Fredrik Lindgren bidding to turn 2023 silver into gold, and Slovakia’s world No.3 Martin Vaculik aiming to become his country’s first-ever Speedway GP world champion after bagging bronze last year.

Aussie ace Jack Holder hopes to build on reaching five finals in nine Speedway GP appearances in 2023, while Denmark’s Leon Madsen heads into 2024 in red-hot form after taking 36 points from a possible 40 – including a famous FIM Speedway GP of Denmark – Vojens victory at his home club towards the end of last year.

British trio Robert Lambert, Dan Bewley and triple Speedway GP world champion Tai Woffinden all have medals in their sights, along with Australia’s FIM SGP Challenge winner Jason Doyle and European champion Mikkel Michelsen.

This year’s line-up also features five Speedway GP full-time debutants as Andzejs Lebedevs becomes Latvia’s first-ever SGP regular, while Kai Huckenbeck becomes Germany’s first Speedway GP rider since Martin Smolinski raced in the 2014 series.

Polish duo Dominik Kubera and Szymon Wozniak race their first Speedway GP seasons, with Czech star Jan Kvech becoming his country’s first SGP regular since Lukas Dryml raced in the 2008 series.

With no shortage of competition, Zmarzlik knows he has to continue developing both man and machines to maintain the form which has seen him win four Speedway GP World Championships in five years.

He said: “I am very happy about what I have done for the last five years, but I am always looking to the future.

“Every year is different, and I make different preparations with the bike. Now I feel ready for everything, and I am fully focused for the whole series.

“It’s always important to focus on what worked well last season that we need to do the same. But motorsports can be different every week sometimes. It’s possible that you will get different results because everything is so open. I must find what I like and what works for me.

“I find mistakes sometimes and work on everything with the bikes, my technique, my control, my focus and I want to try everything to make me the best I can be.”

Team Zmarzlik triumphed in Croatia again in 2023. PHOTO: Taylor Lanning

CHASING HISTORY

Zmarzlik has the chance to match Swedish legend Ove Fundin’s haul of five FIM Speedway World Championships in 2024, as well as an opportunity to become only the second rider in history to win three world titles in a row – following in the footsteps of New Zealand’s six-time champion Ivan Mauger, who topped the podium in 1968, 1969 and 1970.

But a modest Zmarzlik is only focused on delivering his best performances on the track and not on chasing records.

“It is very interesting for me, but I don’t want to say too much about this,” Zmarzlik said. “I am just thinking about what I can do to be the best from day to day. Tomorrow when I wake up, I am thinking about what I can do to improve as a person and a rider. That’s my focus.”

Speedway Stadion Milenium – owned and operated by the Pavlic family – stages its sixth Speedway GP, having hosted the FIM Croatian Speedway GP from 2010 until 2012, with the series returning in 2022.

Packed grandstands are expected for the region’s biggest speedway event, which draws fans from across Croatia, as well as neighbouring nations including Slovenia, who will be represented by wild card Matej Zagar – a five-time former Speedway GP winner, who is always followed across the border by an army of fans.

The 2023 Speedway GP top three: World champion Bartosz Zmarzlik (centre), second-placed Fredrik Lindgren (left), third-placed Martin Vaculik (right): PHOTO: Jarek Pabijan

2024 BOLL FIM SPEEDWAY GP OF CROATIA LINE-UP (in ranking order with rider numbers:

95. Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland)

66. Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden)

54. Martin Vaculik (Slovakia)

25. Jack Holder (Australia)

30. Leon Madsen (Denmark)

505. Robert Lambert (Great Britain)

99. Dan Bewley (Great Britain)

69. Jason Doyle (Australia)

108. Tai Woffinden (Great Britain)

155. Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark)

29. Andzejs Lebedevs (Latvia)

744. Kai Huckenbeck (Germany)

415. Dominik Kubera (Poland)

48. Szymon Wozniak (Poland)

201. Jan Kvech (Czech Republic)

16. Matej Zagar (Slovenia – wild card)

17. Matic Ivacic (Slovenia – first track reserve)

18. Marius Hillebrand (Germany – second track reserve)

Triple Speedway GP world champion Tai Woffinden meets his fans. PHOTO: Taylor Lanning
Triple Speedway GP world champion Tai Woffinden meets his fans. PHOTO: Taylor Lanning

CROATIA FANZONE

Fans can enjoy a packed afternoon of entertainment at Croatia’s Speedway Stadion Milenium with fun for all ages in the Boll FIM Speedway GP of Croatia fanzone.

The action gets started at 12:00 CET in the area next to the stadium’s main entrance and visitors can meet all 18 riders in the Speedway GP autograph session from 16:30 CET.

Monster Energy athletes Fredrik Lindgren, Jack Holder, Dan Bewley and Tai Woffinden will be signing hero cards from 17:00 CET.

Win Speedway GP prizes in our quizzes on the big screen at 14:45 and 17:30 CET. The screen will also be playing the best moments from the 2023 season, as well as coverage of Qualifying Practice from 15:00 CET.

Get a photo with the Speedway GP trophy throughout the afternoon and meet official Speedway GP mascot Speedy for a photo at 14:00 or 15:45 CET.

There will be entertainment for the whole family all afternoon from 12:00 CET, including a bouncy castle, vintage speedway bikes, photo opportunities, food and beverage stalls and the Speedway GP merchandise shop is available throughout the afternoon.

Kids can try their hand at the speedway mechanic board, and there will also be face painting, balloon modelling, games and activities with the animators and the chance to paint a large speedway masterpiece on canvas.

We crown our King and Queen of the fanzone at 18:15 CET, before the action switches to the track, with racing getting started at 19:00 CET.

WHERE TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND

Boll FIM Speedway GP of Croatia – Saturday, April 27 at 19:00 CET

Viewers with access to discovery+ or the Eurosport App, available in selected countries, can enjoy full live coverage of all the FIM Speedway action, featuring Qualifying Practice, plus all the build-up from the pits and reaction after the chequered flag falls, as well as the very best coverage of the racing including pit and on-board cameras and rider reaction times.

Coverage of Speedway GP is available worldwide with linear coverage also available in selected countries – see below for more details of where to watch.

ACROSS EUROPE: Live on the Eurosport App

BRITAIN: Live on discovery+ and Eurosport 2

POLAND: Live on Eurosport Extra in Player

SWEDEN: Live on Kanal 9 and discovery+

DENMARK: Live on 6’eren and discovery+

AUSTRALIA: Live on Fox Sports

GERMANY: Live on discovery+

ACROSS THE BALTICS: Live on the Eurosport App, Go3 and TV3 Sport channels

CZECH REP: Live on the Eurosport App

SLOVAKIA: Live on the Eurosport App and RTVS

CROATIA: Live on the Eurosport App and SPTV

USA: Live on MAVTV

AUSTRIA: Live on discovery+

NORWAY: Live on discovery+

FINLAND: Live on discovery+

ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN: Live on SportsMax

ACROSS ASIA: Live on beINSPORTS

REST OF THE WORLD: Live on Staylive

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