Whisper it quietly, because he won’t want you to hear it, but Patryk Dudek is slap bang in the middle of a Speedway Grand Prix world title race.
In fact, he’s not just in the middle of it - he’s leading it.
The Polish shredder had half a go at the world championship in his debut year in 2017, but he was never the man in control of the gold medal and this year feels different. It's no surprise to see his name up there, nobody is shocked when he reaches the podium because he belongs at the top now.
He headed to Prague for Round Three of the 2019 series joint-top of the standings with countryman Bartosz Zmarzlik and all the focus was on last year’s world number two Zmarzlik, who won last time out in Slovenia for Round Two.
As the man who pushed Tai Woffinden all the way in 2018, Zmarzlik is expected to be the front-runner this year and there’s no doubt he’ll be at the top again come the end of the season, but it was our man Duzers who laid down the first real marker of the year.
Battling difficult track conditions and a tough gate draw, Patryk just wouldn’t give in. He piled enough points to qualify for the semi-final’s and then he got something all racers need on occasion - luck.
Trailing in third in his semi, Patryk was given a lifeline when Russian Emil Sayfutdinov pulled up with mechanical issues and he jumped into second and just about held on to qualify for the final, and with title rival Zmarzlik out before the semi-final stage it gave Patryk a chance to edge ahead in the overall standings.
He couldn’t get the jump in the last race and settled in third place as veteran Janusz Kolodziej won his first ever GP round, but that secured a third top-four finish in three rounds and put him four points ahead of Zmarzlik overall, sharing the lead with the surprise package of the series, Dane Leon Madsen.
With almost a third of the season down Patryk sits pretty at the top of the tree and, despite what he may tell you, he’s got a pretty good chance to do something special this year…
Don’t bet against it.