Triple header in Prague
Billed as a double header in Prague, the 2021 FIM Speedway Grand Prix actually started with three days of racing in the Czech capital after Saturday’s Round 2 was abandoned after Heat 11 due to heavy rainfall. According to SGP rules, at least 16 heats must have been completed for the results to have carried over to Sunday’s meeting. So fans in Prague were treated to a full 23 heats before Artem Laguta (pictured) was crowned champion and Maciej Janowski declared as the current leader of the series on Sunday afternoon. The Polish rider leads Laguta and fellow Russian, Emil Sayfutdinov by six points after the first two rounds.
Good racing; bad planning?
SGP Race Director, Phil Morris kept to the rules, but with bad weather forecast in Prague it meant that there was always a good chance the meet would never make it to Heat 16, despite the best efforts of the racing staff.
It could be argued that the fans won out getting to see the best riders in the world race 57 heats against each other over three days. Alternatively, the SGP organisation might consider it was bad publicity for the sport to have a half finished event.
In any case, we can say that there were both winners and losers to prematurely stopping a round and starting again from scratch the following day.
The definite loser in the decision to cancel Saturday night’s event was Leon Madsen who had a maximum 9 pts from three heats on Saturday and was in first place when the competition was abandoned.
By contrast, at the end of Sunday’s Round 2, the Danish rider only had one heat win, had amassed just 7 pts and finished in 10th place with no chance of taking part in the semifinals.
Likewise, Tai Woffinden also had a worse time of it on Sunday finishing just above Madsen in ninth. When the Round was interrupted prematurely he was fifth placed having scored 6 pts from three heats.
However, at the same time as some lost out, there were also winners among some of the riders who benefitted from an extra night’s sleep and a fresh start. They were primarily Martin Vaculik and Anders Thomsen. The Slovenian had just 3 pts from three heats, whilst the Danish rider had failed to score at all by Saturday’s Heat 11.
The restart was the perfect remedy for these two as they raced their way to the semifinals on Sunday more than tripling their scores with 10 pts and 9 pts respectively. For both riders it was their best result of the series so far.
Next Rounds in Wroclaw
The first two rounds of this year’s SGP were won by Sparta Wroclaw riders, Janowski and Laguta. And in two weeks time we will travel their southwest Poland city for another double header in Rounds 3 and 4 of the World Championships. With home track advantage no-one will be surprised if the same two names finish off at the top of the podiums again as they did in 2020s double header in the town. So, all things being equal these two should also continue to be the leading riders in the SGP series by 10 pm on Saturday 31 July (weather permitting).