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NEWS

Chris Holder 2020 Speedway Grand Prix Preview

Aug 272020

The 2020 Speedway Grand Prix series is going to look a little different this year, and while it certainly isn’t a sprint, it isn’t quite going to be the marathon we have become accustomed to.

Eight rounds staged over four venues, four weekends and six weeks. While riders will be used to 14 days between events in regular circumstances, they will have less than 24 hours in some cases this time round.

How that will play out remains to be seen, but it puts more emphasis than ever on a rider preparing perfectly, having a clear head and being able to solve problems quicker than they have ever needed to.

That’s according to 2012 World Champion Chris Holder, a man with 20 GP podium finishes to his name and who knows better than most just what it takes to compete at the very top level.

We caught up with the Sydneysider to get his thoughts on the shortened format, on how that may effect the riders, and on each and every competitor in the 2020 series – and he even gives his overall prediction for the top three.

Over to you CH…

“It’s going to be a hectic six weeks for the boys, having two races on the trot is going to be tough. A Grand Prix weekend is a big build up mentally, you are thinking about it all week and trying to make sure everything is spot on for that Saturday night, so to have two of those on two days will be a big change.

“It will be new for everyone so it’s not like anyone will have an advantage but for sure it won’t suit some of the guys, and there will be some who pick it up and make it work for them.

“The tough thing will be bouncing back if you have a bad night on the Friday, you have to get your head straight real quick and go again. Normally if you have a bad night you’re straight to Poland the next day and you’ve got a couple of weeks to try and sort your issues from the GP but they won’t have that this time, there’s no rest.

“The busiest men in Speedway over that six weeks will be the engine tuners! They’ll be getting calls at all hours of guys trying to solve issues and the boys will be taking so much gear with them to every round. You might be struggling for speed and trying to fix it for the next day, but you might be looking for something you don’t even have with you.

“Usually you can head back to the workshop and take something different to the next event, or you can get something new in, this time you’ll have to take everything with you and hope that you’ve got something that’s going to work.

“There’ll be some sleepless nights on the Friday, that’s for sure. The guys who have struggled will be up all night trying to figure out where they can get more speed from, what they’ve got that might work better, what they can do differently. It’s going to be a challenge.

“You’ll have to be on the money straight away, you can’t have a bad round this year. When you have 11 rounds or whatever, you can probably afford one bad one. This time, every single round is going to be important and whoever is bang on the money from the off will have the advantage, there’s no room for error.”

Holder has raced against all of the 15 full-time riders during his 94 Grand Prix starts, and has raced alongside many of them too, so there are few people better placed to give their views on each and every man lining up in this year’s series.

Here’s the Chris Holder lowdown on the 2020 SGP lineup;The 2020 Speedway Grand Prix series is going to look a little different this year, and while it certainly isn’t a sprint, it isn’t quite going to be the marathon we have become accustomed to.

Eight rounds staged over four venues, four weekends and six weeks. While riders will be used to 14 days between events in regular circumstances, they will have less than 24 hours in some cases this time round.

How that will play out remains to be seen, but it puts more emphasis than ever on a rider preparing perfectly, having a clear head and being able to solve problems quicker than they have ever needed to.

That’s according to 2012 World Champion Chris Holder, a man with 20 GP podium finishes to his name and who knows better than most just what it takes to compete at the very top level.

We caught up with the Sydneysider to get his thoughts on the shortened format, on how that may effect the riders, and on each and every competitor in the 2020 series – and he even gives his overall prediction for the top three.

Over to you CH…

“It’s going to be a hectic six weeks for the boys, having two races on the trot is going to be tough. A Grand Prix weekend is a big build up mentally, you are thinking about it all week and trying to make sure everything is spot on for that Saturday night, so to have two of those on two days will be a big change.

“It will be new for everyone so it’s not like anyone will have an advantage but for sure it won’t suit some of the guys, and there will be some who pick it up and make it work for them.

“The tough thing will be bouncing back if you have a bad night on the Friday, you have to get your head straight real quick and go again. Normally if you have a bad night you’re straight to Poland the next day and you’ve got a couple of weeks to try and sort your issues from the GP but they won’t have that this time, there’s no rest.

“The busiest men in Speedway over that six weeks will be the engine tuners! They’ll be getting calls at all hours of guys trying to solve issues and the boys will be taking so much gear with them to every round. You might be struggling for speed and trying to fix it for the next day, but you might be looking for something you don’t even have with you.

“Usually you can head back to the workshop and take something different to the next event, or you can get something new in, this time you’ll have to take everything with you and hope that you’ve got something that’s going to work.

“There’ll be some sleepless nights on the Friday, that’s for sure. The guys who have struggled will be up all night trying to figure out where they can get more speed from, what they’ve got that might work better, what they can do differently. It’s going to be a challenge.

“You’ll have to be on the money straight away, you can’t have a bad round this year. When you have 11 rounds or whatever, you can probably afford one bad one. This time, every single round is going to be important and whoever is bang on the money from the off will have the advantage, there’s no room for error.”

Holder has raced against all of the 15 full-time riders during his 94 Grand Prix starts, and has raced alongside many of them too, so there are few people better placed to give their views on each and every man lining up in this year’s series.

Here’s the Chris Holder lowdown on the 2020 SGP lineup;

Bartozsz Zmarzlik

“Having the majority of the races in Poland will help him and he’s in red-hot form. The pressure of being world champion and having six out of eight races at home might be a lot for him to handle but I don’t think that’ll phase him too much to be honest. He had a bit of a slow start by his standards this year but he’s got it together now and he’s so fast, you watch him and he’s half the length of the straight ahead. He’s every bit as good as he was last year and he’s got a big chance of backing it up this year with another win.”

 

Leon Madsen

“Leon is a strange one, his starts aren’t always too consistent but his speed is unreal sometimes. He can just rip up the inside and fly past everyone on the straight and you wonder where he came from! He’s a hard one to work out but he will always be in there, in the mix. He had a couple of slow meetings in Poland but I think he went something like two years never scoring under 10 points – his consistency is pretty awesome.

“He is one of the riders the format could suit, he could bang in 38 points over a weekend if he gets things working and if he gets off to a good start in Wroclaw he’s going to be a hard guy to beat – he will fancy it.”

 

Emil Sayfutdinov

“Emil is probably the top rider in the world at the moment. He’s making good starts from every gate and when he hits the front you just can’t catch him, he is really fast. He looks really good this year and I’d say he’s one of the big favourites, he’s never managed to put together the perfect season yet but I think this could be his year.”

 

Freddie Lindgren
“Freddie has been a bit up and down so far this season, he probably hasn’t got the speed he normally has and he had a bad night recently with a couple of points and that can dent your confidence. You are scratching your head trying to figure out what went wrong and it’s tough. He doesn’t give much away and he’s always capable of scoring big points, he’s a tough rider and he’s very hard to pass so if he gets his nose in front he’ll be a threat. He needs to just find that something extra, but you can’t rule him out from getting on a few podiums.”

 

Martin Vaculik

“Martin is red hot, he’s up there with Emil this year. He hasn’t dropped many points at all and I think he had something like three maximums in a row. His confidence is high, he’s making starts, his engines look quick and he’s got a good team around him. If he can hold this form together, he could be a good outside bet.”

 

Maciej Janwoski

“Magic has always been there or thereabouts but to win the world title you have to be a tiny bit ahead of everyone else. He’s looking good at the minute, I’m racing with him for Wroclaw and he’s riding really well. The first round is obviously on his home track and that will definitely give him an advantage, he knows it inside out.

“Even being able to stay at home, sleep in your own bed, eat what you normally eat – I’d love to have a round in sunny old Appin! The time killing is the worst bit of a GP, you spend all day on Saturday just killing time and waiting to go to the track, so it’ll be good for him to be at home. If he can have a big first weekend he’ll put himself in the mix.”

 

Jason Doyle

“Doyley has been going okay, he’s so solid and never really has a bad meeting, but he probably needs to just find that little but more speed to match the top boys. He is one of the hardest working guys out there and you can never write him off, the GP’s seem to bring the best out of him.

“I actually think he’s one of the guys that the shorter format will suit because he’s used to it – he races in every country that has speedway! The more meetings the better for him so he could pull it out the bag, I’m rooting for him that’s for sure.”

 

Patryk Dudek

“He’s had a bit of a quiet season so far, but he’s still scoring good points. Patryk isn’t like Zmarzlik, winning by the length of the straight and looking flash, but on his day he can beat a lot of the top boys easily. He’s had some tough meetings this year but he will prepare really well and give it a good crack.

“It’s so hard to be consistently fast all the time, to be on it every race, and Patryk can have one race where he wins easy and the next he’ll be third and nowhere, so he needs to try and get that consistency back. Other than the top three guys, Emil, Bartek and Vaculik, nobody is super consistent at the moment really, everyone is as good as each other and Patryk is in that group.”

 

Matej Zagar

“Matej is looking the best he has for a few years, he’s on fire. He’s got good speed, scoring a lot of points, and I think he’s a big threat. He’s changed something and whatever it is it’s working for him, he’s beating the top boys pretty consistently and I think he could be the dark horse this year. I wouldn’t put him outside the top five or six at the minute.”

 

Niels-Kristian Iversen

“Niels had had such a tough start this year, he had that big crash before the season started and when you’re carrying an injury racing at that top level is so hard. He missed a bit of racing then had to come in for Gorzow cold, when all the other boys were up to speed he was just getting started and it’s cut throat.

“Now he’s broken a bone in his wrist or something and he’ll be fighting to be fit enough for the first round, so I feel for him. If you’re even one or two percent off it, it’s hard to compete in the GP’s so hopefully he can get back to 100% and then he’s got nothing to lose – everyone knows what he’s capable of.”

 

Artem Laguta

“Artem has been so good for a long while now and the big tracks will suit him, Wroclaw suits him to a tee and he could make a splash. He has crazy speed and he’s a good gater as well, it’s just how he copes under big pressure. I don’t think he has ever won a Grand Prix but he’s got to plenty of final’s and semi-final’s, so it’s about doing it on the big stage. There’s no reason he couldn’t do something and he’s be a good bet for anyone looking for some value.”

 

Tai Woffinden

“Woffy is as sharp as always, even an average night for him is a good one. He’s working hard, putting plenty of laps in and he looks good, and having the first rounds in Wroclaw will be good for him – he’s the king of that place!

“He’ll be pumped up and looking forward to getting going, I actually think it might suit him to go a bit under the radar this season. He’ll have a point to prove, all the talk will be about Zmarzlik and Woffy is the type of dude who will feed off being the underdog again. He has shown he can pull it out and you don’t win three world titles without being pretty special, so I reckon we’ll be hearing Nigel and Kelvin give it a few ‘Woffy Woffy Woffy’ shouts again!”

 

Antonio Lindback

“You never know what you’re going to get with Anton, he’s either the fastest guy out there or he’s pretty average but having a shorter series might help him. He’s a wild card isn’t he, when he’s on it he’s on it and he can beat everyone, so he might just flick a switch and go on a bit of a run. He could be a real spoiler and upset a few guys, but he’ll have to find something special to be at the top.”

 

Max Fricke

“Max hasn’t had too much racing this year, he’s been doing one meeting a week in Poland and when you’re not happy with your equipment and you’re searching for speed, you need racing. Practise is fine but sometimes you can feel really good in practise, then when you get to the tapes with three other guys it’s different.

“He’s been working really hard and he’s turned it round a little bit. He’s got a bit of confidence back and he’s got nothing to lose has he? He has the least pressure out of anyone, it’ll all be good experience for him and he can go and have some fun with it, and that can help you big time. He’ll fancy his chances of causing a few shocks and you wouldn’t put it past him.”

 

Martin Smolinski

“Ah Smoli, I have no idea if he’s even ridden this year has he? He had that huge hip injury and talking from experience they aren’t fun! It’s not an ideal way to come into the GP series, I’m sure he will have practised a lot but the other boys are racing against each other every week and to come into that with no competitive racing behind you is a huge ask.

“He’s got a lot of confidence in himself and he likes to talk a good game, but he has shocked everyone before and he has nothing to lose. He will be in there stealing points off the big boys and if he pops out of the start he’s a hard dude to pass, so he will definitely mix it up. I think, coming off his injury, it’s going to be really tough for him.”

 

PREDICTION

“It’s so hard to predict it this year and I think they key weekend is Prague, that place can really mess people up and we’ve seen in the past some of the top guys get five or six points there. If someone can go there and bang in two big results, it will set them up big time for the final weekend in Torun – so I think that is the weekend to watch.

“If I was pushed, my top three would be Zmarzlik, Emil and then Martin Vaculik. a group of six or seven guys who you could put in a top three but I just think Zmarzlik looks a step ahead at the moment and he will put it all together again this year.”

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