POLISH SHOOTING STAR CIERNIAK KEEPS COOL TO WIN SGP2 UNDER-21 WORLD TITLE IN TORUN

01/10/2022

POLISH SHOOTING STAR CIERNIAK KEEPS COOL TO WIN SGP2 UNDER-21 WORLD TITLE IN TORUN
Poland’s new SGP2 champion Mateusz Cierniak survived a mid-meeting scare to seal the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship at the Nice FIM SGP2 of Poland – Torun on Friday.

Cierniak went into the round requiring just a semi-final spot to seal the SGP2 crown after winning the opening two rounds of the series in Prague on May 27 and Cardiff on August 14.

With two heat wins to his name, Cierniak looked on course to secure the title with three or four rides to spare. But a last place in race 10 left him with work to do.

The Lublin star hit back with a second place in race 14, before sealing junior speedway’s biggest prize with another second in heat 18, with his team rushing on to the track to celebrate with one of the sport’s fastest rising stars. The Tarnow-born racer finished third in the Nice FIM SGP2 of Poland – Torun final to end the series with 56 points from three rounds.

Outgoing World Under-21 champion Jakub Miskowiak won the final to seal the bronze medal with 38. He was pipped to silver by Czech racer Jan Kvech, who exited at the semi-final stage with 11 points but did enough to hold on to second place with 39 in total.

The night belonged to Cierniak, though. The delighted Pole, who teamed up with Miskowiak to win the FIM Speedway of Nations – SON2 with his country in July, was glad to make it a team and individual world under-21 title double in 2022.

He said: “I made it and I am so happy. I won my first and second heats and I felt very good on my bike – very confident on the bike. But later, I don’t know what happened.

“For sure, the track changed a little bit, so I lost my good setup. Even up to the final, I was still working on it. I don’t know what happened. I changed bike and did everything I had to do.

“I want to say thank you very much everyone – my club, my family, my tuner, my coaches and everyone who has helped me and supported me all season.”

Cierniak was the only rider on the podium who is eligible to race in the 2023 SGP2 series. Asked about his chances of winning back-to-back titles, he said: “Why not?

“A lot of riders from this series finish their junior careers this season. But it will not be easy to win again because everyone here is a very good rider. But I like racing with everyone so much. If I have the chance to win a second gold medal, I will try to do it.”

Runner-up Kvech missed out on the final for the first time this season, after taking fourth place in both Prague and Cardiff. But he was pleased to add SGP2 silver to the SON2 silver medal he won with the Czech Republic in July.

He said: “This wasn’t the best meeting for me, but in the general classification, I was second. It’s an amazing moment for me and so cool.

“I was a little bit unlucky at times during the series. After three rounds, I wasn’t on the podium. I was fourth two times and today I felt good on the bike. But I had problems from the starts. That was the key factor today.”

Miskowiak won the 2021 FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship and was pleased to follow that with 2022 SGP2 bronze on a night when he surged from eighth place before the meeting to third in the final standings.

He said: “We were trying to find the best setup with my team, my uncle and all the mechanics. We found the speed – that was pretty much fine by the end of the meeting.

“Getting a second medal in the World Under-21 Championship is something I am very proud of. I would have loved to be on top of the rostrum, but I had a very tough situation in terms of points after two rounds. I had only 18 points before Torun. I knew I had to do something special tonight just to get a chance to get a medal, so winning a medal is good.”

Miskowiak also lines up in the For Nature Solutions FIM Speedway GP of Poland – Torun on Saturday night, replacing the injured Max Fricke to make his full Speedway GP debut over at least five rides.

“I am hoping to have a good night with the Speedway GP riders,” he said. “It will be a privilege and a big honour to race with the top stars on the world stage. I will try to learn as much as I can and present myself in the best possible way I can. I would love to be competitive against the top riders in the world.”

Polish racer Wiktor Lampart fell agonisingly short of winning the silver medal. After winning all five of his heats and the semi-final, the Lublin star went into the final knowing that victory on the night would see him snatch second spot overall from Kvech on countback.

He was leading the final comfortably when Mateusz Swidnicki crashed on lap three, forcing referee Jesper Steentoft to stop the race. Lampart could not hit the front in the re-run, though, with Miskowiak denying him a sensational seven-ride maximum.

But Lampart was still content with a fine display. He said: “The night has been great. My performance in the third round was very good. I won all the heats, but unfortunately, I had an unlucky final heat. What happened in the final wasn’t my fault. I was just unlucky it was stopped.

“I didn’t know what to think when the red lights came on. I was just going for it. I was just thinking ‘I have to win the final again.’ But I think I chose the wrong place to start. I didn’t make a good start and it was very hard to overtake.”

The spotlight switches to the sport’s senior stars on Saturday as the For Nature Solutions FIM Torun Speedway GP brings the curtain down on the 2022 FIM Speedway season – the first under new global promoter Discovery Sports Events.

Polish icon Bartosz Zmarzlik may have secured his third Speedway GP World Championship, with Denmark’s Leon Madsen closing on the silver medal. But with just eight points separating the riders placed third to seventh, the likes of Patryk Dudek, Robert Lambert, Dan Bewley, Fredrik Lindgren and Maciej Janowski are set to deliver an epic battle for bronze – as well as the final automatic qualification places for the 2023 series.

SGP2 FIM SPEEDWAY UNDER-21 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL STANDINGS: 1 Mateusz Cierniak 56, 2 Jan Kvech 39, 3 Jakub Miskowiak 38, 4 Wiktor Lampart 37, 5 Benjamin Basso 37, 6 Kevin Juhl Pedersen 27, 7 Petr Chlupac 24, 8 Mateusz Swidnicki 22, 9 Tom Brennan 22, 10 Francis Gusts 18, 11 Jonas Knudsen 15, 12 Timi Salonen 14, 13 Gustav Grahn 12, 14 Casper Henriksson 11, 15 Leon Flint 10, 16 Wiktor Przyjemski 9, 17 Norick Blodorn 9, 18 Keynan Rew 8, 19 Daniel Klima 8, 20 Krzysztof Lewandowski 7, 21 Jason Edwards 6, 22 Drew Kemp 5, 23 Celina Liebmann 3, 24 Bruno Belan 1.

NICE FIM SGP2 OF POLAND – TORUN POINTS: 1 Jakub Miskowiak 20, 2 Wiktor Lampart 18, 3 Mateusz Cierniak 16, 4 Mateusz Swidnicki 14, 5 Benjamin Basso 12, 6 Jan Kvech 11, 7 Tom Brennan 10, 8 Wiktor Przyjemski 9, 9 Keynan Rew 8, 10 Krzysztof Lewandowski 7, 11 Daniel Klima 6, 12 Kevin Juhl Pedersen 5, 13 Petr Chlupac 4, 14 Casper Henriksson 3, 15 Timi Salonen 2, 16 Jonas Knudsen 1, 17 Celina Liebmann 0, 18 Mateusz Affelt DNR.