|Home favourite Patryk Dudek ensured the World Championship race will go down to the concluding round in Melbourne after storming to his first SGP victory in the NICE Torun FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Poland.
Dudek, who trailed championship leader Jason Doyle by 22 points prior to Saturday’s SGP, overcame a third in his opening ride to end the qualifying stage on 12 points.
He went on to make full use of his gate choice to beat Matej Zagar to the flag in semi-final one, before booking his spot on Torun’s top podium step with a win over Tai Woffinden, Bartosz Zmarzlik, and Matej Zagar in the final.
Dudek’s win means just 14 points separate him from Aussie Jason Doyle at the top of the standings, while Woffinden boosted his medal credentials by leapfrogging Maciej Janowski to move into third place.
Dudek, the only full-time SGP star without an SGP win prior to Torun, said: “It’s an amazing feeling. To win a GP in Poland in my first year of GP racing, I’m very proud and happy.
“Speedway is difficult. It’s a rollercoaster, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. I had a problem in my first heat but we made a change and then things went okay. That sums up speedway this year. When you have a lucky day this is what happens.”
Though Dudek put any celebrations for championship rival Doyle on hold, the 25-year-old said he’s too focused on the upcoming QBE Insurance Australian SGP to worry about the standings.
He added: “I’m second in the standings. I won tonight. I hope the next meeting will be the same.”
Second-placed Tai Woffinden overcame a sickness bug to bag his second podium finish of the season. He said: “The job tonight was to claw points back. Overall it’s a good night. We now move on to Melbourne.
“GPs aren’t easy. Everyone is fast. It’s a pleasure when you can have tough races like we did tonight. The hardest thing is staying at that level year on year. From 2013 it’s been nothing short of amazing.”
A trophy from Saturday’s Nice Torun SGP may not be the only new addition to the Woffinden household by time the Australian round begins. Tai and his wife Faye are expecting a baby girl, and it may be delivered prior to the Melbourne showdown – something that would top another remarkable season for the Brit.
He said: “I’m blessed to do something I love to support my family. Me and Faye are very excited with our little girl on the way. There’s nothing more I could ask for.”
Third-placed Bartosz Zmarzlik meanwhile was pleased to bag another podium after making his fifth final out of the last six GPs.
He said: “I’m happy to be on the podium. It’s the same result as two weeks ago. But we are working for better results all the time.”
Track reserve Max Fricke was left dazed after a heavy fall in heat 15. The Aussie caught the back wheel of Martin Vaculik while entering turn three of lap one, subsequently going over the high side of his bike and landing heavily on his shoulder.
Though the youngster was keen to continue, Australian team manager Mark Lemon revealed he had been stood down from the meeting following the re-run – which he was excluded from.
The series moves on to its final round, the QBE Insurance Australian SGP in Melbourne on October 28 where either Doyle or Dudek will be crowned champion.
World Championship Standings: 1 Jason Doyle 142, 2 Patryk Dudek 128, 3 Tai Woffinden 115, 4 Maciej Janowski 113, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 109, 6 Bartosz Zmarzlik 108, 7 Fredrik Lindgren 107, 8 Matej Zagar 97, 9 Martin Vaculik 90, 10 Chris Holder 82, 11 Piotr Pawlicki 79, 12 Antonio Lindback 73, 13 Peter Kildemand 54, 14 Greg Hancock 45, 15 Niels-Kristian Iverson 44, 16 Vaclav Milik 31, 17 Martin Smolinski 19, 18 Max Fricke 11, 19 Pawel Przedpelski 10, 20 Nicki Pedersen 8, 21 Michael Jepsen Jensen 8, 22 Maksims Bogdanovs 8, 23 Kenneth Bjerre 7, 24 Krzysztof Kasprzak 6, 25 Kai Huckenbeck 4, 26 Jacob Thorssell 4, 27 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 28 Craig Cook 2, 29 Linus Sundstrom 2, 30 Kim Nilsson 2, 31 Josh Bates 2, 32 Nick Skorja 1.
2017 NICE Torun SGP of Poland scores: 1 Patryk Dudek 18, 2 Tai Woffinden 15, 3 Bartosz Zmarzlik 14, 4 Matej Zagar 11, 5 Vaclav Milik 11, 6 Piotr Pawlicki 10, 7 Jason Doyle 10, 8 Pawel Przedpelski 10, 9 Peter Kildemand 8, 10 Emil Sayfutdinov 7, 11 Chris Holder 7, 12 Maciej Janowski 5, 13 Martin Vaculik 5, 14 Max Fricke 4, 15 Martin Smolinski 2, Antonio Lindback 1, 17 Bartosz Smektala 0, Igor Kopec-Sobczynski DNR.