Grand Prix Speedway is Back!
Grand Prix Speedway makes it’s much anticipated return this weekend, but thanks to this being the year of the strange we currently know more about the 2021 series than we do about the 2020 edition. Robert Lambert was the first man to book his ticket into the 2021 series thanks to his heroics in the European Championship and the consensus must surely be that he will be a welcome addition to the series. With red hot form in Poland and Sweden, Lambert has enjoyed a standout year so far and proved that he is a rider capable of mixing it with the absolute best in the world. While injury ruined his 2019 campaign, he has more than made up for lost time and proved that he is a rider for the big occasion. The admirable way in which he coped with the immense pressure he found himself under in the final round of the SEC, will stand him in good stead when the tapes go up on the 2021 series. The GP Challenge in Gorican did provide a few surprises though with Matej Zagar, Krzysztof Kasprzak and Oliver Berntzon also booking their place in the 2021 line up. Zagar is fast becoming a bit of a GP Challenge specialist having claimed a second victory in as many years at the Croatian venue and no matter where he finishes in 2020 he is assured of a place next year. While some may argue that Zagar has perhaps had his time in the GP, there is little doubt that on his day he is capable of beating anyone and that his league form is generally very good. There is also a strong argument that he would generally always be a rider in the hunt for a permanent wildcard anyway. Now of course he is one of the most experienced riders on the circuit, but as riders like Greg Hancock and Thomas Gollob have proved in the past, age is just a number and it doesn’t necessarily mean that Zagar can’t land himself a GP medal after several years in the series. Swedish rider Oliver Berntzon probably wasn’t a name on many people’s lips when it came to potential qualifiers from the GP Challenge, but after a bit of good fortune in the event he finds himself a GP rider in 2021. He is a rider who has been knocking on the door of the GP for a few years and having landed the opportunity he will be keen to grab it with both hands. Injuries have halted his progress in the past but at 27 he is a fairly experienced rider. Whilst most of the pressure from the Swedish fans will land at the feet of Freddie Lindgren, this could work in the favour of Berntzon, who will can quietly go about his business without huge expectation and ruffle a few feathers along the way. Perhaps the most controversial man to make it through the challenge was Krzysztof Kasprzak, who returns to the series for the first time since 2015 where he finished 15th, having claimed the silver medal a year earlier. His form for Gorzow has been patchy at best and there wouldn’t have been many people expecting him to make it through. His inclusion is sure to divide opinion, and while he is capable of beating anyone on any given day, he is equally as capable of beating absolutely nobody the following day. The very definition of an enigma, Kasprzak is a GP rider for 2021 to the ire of many and surely must rank as an outsider when the series rolls around. Perhaps a rider like Grigorij Laguta would have added some extra sizzle to the 2021 series but it wasn't to be for the Russian. So that’s our 2021 GP line up so far, what about 2020? Well the first rounds of the series are due to take place in Wroclaw this weekend it would be foolish to look past home track specialists Tai Woffinden, Maciej Janowski and even Max Fricke nearing the top of the podium. However the likes of Artem Laguta and Emil Sayfutdinov have shown a liking to the Wroclaw circuit in the past with big scores in the Ekstraliga and of course their Speedway of Nations success in 2018. Leon Madsen can never be ruled out and we all know Freddie Lindgren isn’t afraid to throw caution to the wind when required. Then of course there is the small matter of Bartosz Zmarzlik and Jason Doyle, both of whom have been edging their way back into form. One rider with no worries over form at the moment is Martin Vaculik, and he looks a real danger man under this revised format. One man who sticks out from the crowd a little though is Danish rider Mikkel Michelsen, who we know replaces the injured Martin Smolinski in the series. A former European champion, he can feel aggrieved not to have been in the series from the start and having missed out on the GP Challenge, he will be ultra-keen to put himself in contention for at least one of the five wildcard picks for 2021. Of course it is anyone’s meeting to win, and what happens in round one will have no bearing on round two, and it makes for an interesting dynamic. With 2020 being the year of the strange, will we see a surprise winner? Will Woffy win in Wroclaw? Will Janowski provide the Magic? Will Artem and Emil lead the Russian Revolution? Will Bartosz be bouncing off the air fence? Grand Prix Speedway is back and we cannot wait to see what surprises it has in store! Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with me, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me email@example.com or get in touch via the JB Speedway Media Facebook page. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters, you can send me a tweet @Mythman666