Not long ago, Russia didn’t even have the resources to field a team in world championship team speedway. They were in the wilderness, the forgotten nation of a sport that they had the potential to dominate.
No longer. Now, they are consecutive Speedway of Nations champions and this time they did it in front of their home fans in what was the first team world championship to ever be held in the soviet country. It’s safe to say that Russia has arrived.
The FIM Black Monster Speedway of Nations is a two-day, 44-race event where seven teams fight for every single point on offer in the hope of landing in the top three at the end of the tournament, where the top team goes straight through to the grand final and the next two teams go head to head to earn the right to join them.
After their awesome success in Wroclaw, Poland last year it was Russia’s turn to host and it was the western city of Togliatti that took the reins, and thousands of fans turned up expecting to see their heroes do the business again this time around.
They didn’t let them down. The power-packed team of Artem Laguta and Emil Sayfutdinov has the weight of expectation on their shoulders but you couldn’t tell, as they put their stamp on the competition right from the get-go.
They didn’t have it easy, though. Australia were tipped as the dark horses by our man Greg Hancock and he got it bang on because they showed up in a big way. After day one, it was the Aussies who topped the overall leaderboard with Russia in second and Poland third – all separated by just two points.
Day two saw Poland bring in Patryk Dudek for the injured Maciej Janowski and he made an impact straight away and that put Poland into the overall lead after 42 races.
Russia and Australia went bar-to-bar in the semi-final and when the home team packed into second and third it put them through to the all or nothing final race.