Martin Smolinski was one of four Germans in the Elitserien in 2019 and raced 12 matches for Avesta Masarna, the same amount as compatriot Kai Hukenbeck for Piraterna. Meanwhile Erik Riss, Rospiggarna and Kevin Wölbert, Lejonen took part in an handful of matches each.
In a season plagued by injury, one of his highlight was beating Riss, Wölbert and Huckenbeck at the German national championships in Abensberg in July. He only dropped one point in the competition and, incredibly, that makes it the seventh time the 35 year old has won the national championship.
2019 marked the first time Smolinksi has raced in Elitserien for 11 years. I asked him about the decision, "I had an good offer with Masarna, it’s a very nice club and I like the people there."
Looking ahead for 2020, he's got plan to improve on his 1.364 average, "I will have a complete bike setup in Sweden with an Swedish mechanic," and he goes on to talk about his ambitions for the Elitserien, "I will step up a lot with my average in Sweden - that’s my goal".
In 2020 he will also continue to race for AC Landshut Devils in the German Bundsliga where he also participated in all four of their regular season matches.
But injuries ruined his year, "to lose the Longtrack World Title with a broken collarbone was a bad finish," he says about the end of his season.
He beat Dmitri Berge to win the title by one point in 2018. But last year, it was the Frenchman who took the title from the German. Not surprisingly, one of Smolinski's main goals for 2020 is to win back the title. However, the two of them will not have wait for the Long Track season to start to meet - they will see each other every week over the summer as they race together for Masarna, in Berge's first ever season in Sweden.
The 35 year old famously won the 2014 Auckland SGP (see video) as the first ever German to win a round in this prestige tournament. Six years later in 2020 he has been chosen as first reserve for the series which means he will only race if someone else cannot make it. "We will see what's happens, in the past years the first reserve always had some chances to show what he can do. We are ready for it," he says.
In that Auckland final he beat Nicki Pedersen, who would wind up collected the bronze medal that year. But in the autumn of 2019 Smolinski got to replace the injured Pedersen at Zielona Gora in their last three matches in their quest for Ekstraliga success.
"It was very bad for me, I tried everything to help Zielona Gora, I was racing through my pain barrier with my back, but I just couldn't bring the power to what I can do." He reflects further on what happened, "It is always hard to come into the final matches with no track experience over the year, " he says, but finishes with a lighter touch, "but that's speedway!"
It is not surprising therefore that one of the German's goals for 2020 is to stay healthy. As regards racing in Poland he has yet to sign for a club, but is hopeful something will turn up, "I don't want to sit on the bench for a year again..." he comments.
At 35 years old the German champion has experience on his side. With a clear focus on the World Longtrack Championship and improving in the Elitserien he knows what he wants from 2020. He also has a number of exciting "maybes" in the pipeline, whether that's the SGP or Ektraliga,. You can be sure, whereever he turns up, Smolinski he will go all out from every heat, and who knows, could there be a second SGP victory for the German in 2020?