Buckle up, speedway fans.
Two men, a lifetime of sacrifice, hard work and dedication and it all comes down to one weekend.
For Bartosz Zmarzlik, he is attempting to win a third world title in a row and cement his place among the sport’s greats. For Artem Laguta, he’s looking to cap off an unbelievable season with a world title that has long looked like it would allude him.
Those two men head into the final Speedway Grand Prix event of the year in Torun, Poland separated by just a single point and knowing that this is, basically, a straight shoot-out. The man that holds their nerve best, who gets it right across two nights and 46 races, will stand on the top step… and on top of the speedway world.
It’s Laguta, a softly-spoken, unassuming Russian who currently holds top spot and he’s enjoyed the kind of year that deserves to end in glory. While in the past he has been known to lose his nerve in the big moments, to drop his standards when he needs raise them, this year he has risen to the occasion each time he’s needed to.
When Zmarzlik was on a run of three consecutive GP wins, and looking ominously like world champion-elect, Laguta made a huge statement of intent in Lublin to pass his rival in the final and deny him a fourth victory in a row.
It may have only been a points swing of four, but it was a psychological boost for Laguta and sent a message to both Zmarzlik and the wider speedway fraternity; I am here to stay.
When Zmarzlik bounced back to take victory in Sweden shortly after, many assumed he’d run away with it. Laguta, again, had his say.
He roared to victory at home in Russia and then in Denmark last time out to leapfrog the Polish hero and take the lead heading into the last two events, and he now has his fate in his own hands.