|Polish captain Maciej Janowski hailed “an amazing night” as his side retained their Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup crown in Leszno, but admitted “that was one of the hardest meetings I have ever done.”
The Poles went into the event as red-and-white-hot favourites with the weight of a nation on their shoulders, as they sought to lift the Ove Fundin Trophy for a record eighth time. And the hosts thrived under pressure to win the Final on 50 points, seeing off Sweden who claimed silver on 42.
Russia matched their best ever Monster Energy SWC finish, scoring 18 to beat Great Britain (15) to the bronze medal.
Janowski led the Polish charge on 14 points, with hometown hero Piotr Pawlicki and Bartosz Zmarzlik bagging 13 apiece and Patryk Dudek tallying 10.
While the Poles were hotly tipped to triumph with ease, Magic insists they were forced to fight all the way.
He said: “I’m so tired and so happy! There was a lot of expectation before the meeting. A lot of people were saying it would be really easy, but that was one of the hardest meetings I have ever done. It was so tough.
“I can say I am so happy and I am proud of my team. I want to say thank you to all the fans because they were amazing and I hope the people watching really enjoyed it. We showed them really good speedway tonight.
“I also want to say congratulations to the rest of the teams – Sweden, Russia and Great Britain. They gave us some really tough races.”
Zmarzlik admits carrying the weight of expectation on his side prior to the meeting was no easy task. But he was elated to win his second Monster Energy SWC gold medal in as many seasons.
He said: “I am very happy. This is my second gold medal. All week we have been working hard with the whole team and we did a good job today. I am very happy. All the team showed some very good racing.
“Before the meeting there was stress on the whole team because everybody said ‘you must win, you will win.’ But you have to do the work in the meeting to win the gold medal.
“There were a lot of Polish fans and I have to say thank you. They helped us.”
Sweden’s surge to silver was inspired by a terrific 20 points from Antonio Lindback. He paid tribute to his side for putting up a brave fight against a powerful Polish team.
He said: “It felt really good for my part, but of course I wanted to win with the team. We came second and I still think we had a good meeting.
“Trying to beat Poland in Poland is very, very difficult. I still think we gave them a good fight. In the end, they were a little bit better than us, but I am very happy for me and my team.”
Russian racer Emil Sayfutdinov led his team to third spot, scoring 11 of their 18 points and claiming a crucial second place in a last-heat decider with GB in the battle for bronze.
Sayfutdinov, a member of Russia’s 2012 bronze medal-winning side in Malilla, said: “I’m really happy because we got the bronze medal and that was tough work – even tougher than the Race Off on Friday.
“We did a good job. We tried to score some important points and the last heat was so difficult for me. But I passed two riders and I got two points. I am really happy.”
Great Britain racer Chris Harris admits the Lions were short of speed against their rivals as their 22-year quest to win a World Cup medal outside of Britain goes on.
Harris, who led the GB scorechart on seven, said: “I gave it everything I had, as I always do. It wasn’t quite enough, but I felt I rode well. It’s just these boys are fast out here.
“It’s a tough competition. Obviously we were good at home, but the riders aren’t used to Poland. Out here, it’s a different kettle of fish with the equipment, as the boys found out tonight. But it was a great experience for them, though. They’ll have learnt a lot for the future.”
With the Monster Energy SWC complete, the action switches back to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series, which returns in spectacular style with the Adrian Flux British SGP at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on July 22.
MONSTER ENERGY SWC FINAL SCORES
1 POLAND 50: 1 Patryk Dudek 10, 2 Maciej Janowski 14, 3 Piotr Pawlicki 13, 4 Bartosz Zmarzlik 13, 5 Bartosz Smektala DNR.
2 SWEDEN 42: 1 Antonio Lindback 20, 2 Fredrik Lindgren 11, 3 Linus Sundstrom 4, 4 Andreas Jonsson 7, 5 Joel Kling DNR.
3 RUSSIA 18: 1 Emil Sayfutdinov 11, 2 -, 3 Vadim Tarasenko 3, 4 Andrei Kudriashov 1, 5 Gleb Chugunov 3.
4 GREAT BRITAIN 15: 1 Steve Worrall 6, 2 Chris Harris 7, 3 Robert Lambert 1, 4 Craig Cook 1, 5 Adam Ellis DNR.