Courtesy of FIM Speedway Grand Prix
MADSEN: IT’S TOUGH AT THE TOP
Danish hero Leon Madsen admitted “it’s tough at the top” as the FIM Speedway Grand Prix world title race returns to Vojens for the Danish SGP sponsored by ECCO this Saturday.
Madsen, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday, heads to his homeland level on 85 points with Poland’s Bartosz Zmarzlik at the World Championship summit.
The duo have a seven-point advantage over Russian racer Emil Sayfutdinov, who is third on 78. Swedish star Fredrik Lindgren and Slovakia’s Martin Vaculik are also chasing hard on 72 in fourth and fifth respectively.
Madsen went into last Saturday’s AZTORIN German SGP in Teterow with a six-point lead over Zmarzlik. He finished the night with 10 points, while Zmarzlik stormed to second place with 16 points to draw level and pile on the pressure.
While that big move saw Zmarzlik and Madsen emerge as championship frontrunners, European champion Madsen knows world No.2 Zmarzlik isn’t the only man ready to chase him down in the race for top spot.
Madsen said: “It’s difficult, it’s tough at the top – it really is. It looks like it’s going to be a fight between myself and Bartosz. But there are other riders close behind us that are capable of closing the gap.
“I would’ve liked to increase the gap in Teterow, but that didn’t happen. Vojens will be tough now; the last three rounds will be a tough battle. It’s important to keep the focus.”
Madsen can’t wait to line up in front of his home fans – incredibly for his first meeting in Denmark this year.
He said: “I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully it will be a great atmosphere. But I live in Poland – so I can’t even enjoy a short drive!”
Gdynia-based Madsen reached the AZTORIN German SGP semi-finals last Saturday, but admits his decision to select No.1 when he picked his starting positions after qualifying was a mistake.
He said: “Saturday was tough, really tough. Everything was about gating and your first corner.
“My problem was I came out after each track grade and the surface was very greasy. Maybe I made the wrong call after qualifying.
“I didn’t make the best starts. I was struggling a bit with that. To get away with 10 points, on reflection, maybe isn’t so bad. It’s positive that I feel like I had a bad night and still scored 10 points. It’s not like I recorded five or six points.”
Madsen is joined in representing the Danes by Niels-Kristian Iversen, who is ninth in the World Championship, but has already secured his spot in SGP 2020 after finishing second at the GP Challenge in Gorican, Croatia on August 24.
Mikkel Michelsen makes his second SGP appearance of the season as this weekend’s wild card on the track where he topped the podium in a Speedway European Championship round on August 10.
Also based in Poland, Michelsen is determined to deliver as he rides in front of fans, friends and family in Vojens.
He said: “I am looking forward to going to Vojens again and doing something similar. I’m not going to stand here and say I am going to win it because everyone here wants to win – whether it’s an SGP or SEC round; it doesn’t matter.
“If I can make it to the semi-final, anything can happen from there. You can be the best on the night and then miss out in the semi-final, or you can just squeeze in and go out and win the final.
“I just want to put in a stellar performance. It’s my home country – sponsors, family and everyone will be there. It’s nice to have them there and it gives me that extra motivation factor.
“I don’t get to see my family that much nowadays. I don’t get to spend as much time as I want in Poland either because we are pretty much on the road all the time. So Vojens will be nice – I am looking forward to it.”
DANISH SGP SPONSORED BY ECCO LINE-UP (in FIM ranking order with rider numbers): 108 Tai Woffinden (Great Britain), 95 Bartosz Zmarzlik (Poland), 66 Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden), 71 Maciej Janowski (Poland), 505 Robert Lambert (Great Britain – substitute for 45 Greg Hancock), 222 Artem Laguta (Russia), 69 Jason Doyle (Australia), 89 Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia), 692 Patryk Dudek (Poland), 55 Matej Zagar (Slovenia), 54 Martin Vaculik (Slovakia), 333 Janusz Kolodziej (Poland), 88 Niels-Kristian Iversen (Denmark), 85 Antonio Lindback (Sweden), 30 Leon Madsen (Denmark), 16 Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark – wild card), 17 Michael Jepsen Jensen (Denmark – first track reserve), 18 Anders Thomsen (Denmark – second track reserve).
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 85, 2 Leon Madsen 85, 3 Emil Sayfutdinov 78, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 72, 5 Martin Vaculik 72, 6 Patryk Dudek 69, 7 Maciej Janowski 67, 8 Artem Laguta 58, 9 Niels-Kristian Iversen 54, 10 Matej Zagar 52, 11 Janusz Kolodziej 50, 12 Jason Doyle 48, 13 Antonio Lindback 38, 14 Max Fricke 36, 15 Tai Woffinden 35, 16 Robert Lambert 28, 17 Bartosz Smektala 10, 18 Mikkel Michelsen 9, 19 Oliver Berntzon 7, 20 Vaclav Milik 4, 21 Maksym Drabik 4, 22 Matic Ivacic 2, 23 Jacob Thorssell 2, 24 Martin Smolinski 1.