There’s only one problem when you charge to one of the best rookie season’s in Speedway Grand Prix history – improving on it.
That’s the problem Polish racer Patryk Dudek is facing in 2018 after a debut season that saw him tear through the GP series like a wildfire as he ended the season with a silver medal. As rookie years go, it was special.
While there are no negatives to winning a world championship medal in your debut season, one thing it does do is raise expectation. When you’ve finished second in your first year, there’s only one way to go.
This season has been a tougher challenge for the diminutive racer but one he is facing up in the same way he does everything; with a casual smile and a shrug of the shoulders. To say Patryk is laid back would be an understatement in the extreme – he is ice cool.
“This year is harder than last year for sure, but it’s what I expected. Last year, the GP’s were all fresh and the success I had was a big surprise to me, I didn’t expect to get a silver medal in my first year. I always knew that it was going to be harder this season to repeat the same results as last year.
“My goal for this season is to finish in the top eight and make sure that I get back into the series next season, so far I am there so I hope I can keep my place for the rest of the season and then come back again next year.”
While a speedway racer depends largely on himself – they are the boss of their own team – they do rely on having a solid group of people around them to make them as competitive as possible. From mechanics to engine tuners, it’s a complex jigsaw to piece together and that’s something that Patryk is learning as he goes along.
“Speedway has a lot of things that aren’t just about the rider, everybody has to work together at the same time and I had some problems in a few rounds where I was disappointed with how it went.
“One of the things you can’t control is the gate draw, a lot of things depend on what number you get and then how the track is prepared.
“For example in Prague, Gate 3 was the best gate and the rider who had it twice was lucky. In other rounds I have had Gate 3 two times and it wasn’t so good – you have to have a bit of luck. That is what is hard about the GP’s – there are so many different things to consider.
“My aim is to always make 10 points and get into the semi-final’s, if I do that I am happy, and there have been a few rounds this season where I haven’t been able to do that. I will keep going though.”
Despite a slightly more difficult second season, and he is still in the current top six don’t forget, ‘Duzers’ is enjoying himself and he is determined to keep it that way. When asked which of the Grand Prix events is his favourite you may expect him to say Warsaw – where over 55,000 Polish fans pack the national stadium and create an atmosphere that has your hairs on end.
His answer? “Prague, I love the old town and it’s always cool to go to Czech and eat the fried cheese! I love it. I was nearly the winner too, but second place was okay. I really like Prague.”
And that probably tells you all you need to know about Patryk’s character. 55,000 fans cheering his name? Meh. Fried cheese in Prague old town square? Now you’re talking…