NO WINTER BREAK FOR ZMARZLIK

Double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik insists FIM Speedway Grand Prix riders can be busier in the winter months than they are during the racing season. The Polish icon stormed to an astonishing five SGP wins in 2021 – a tally matched by Artem Laguta, who pipped him to the world title by three points. Zmarzlik is already working hard behind the scenes to ensure he’s firmly in contention to regain his crown in 2022. Asked what he had been doing since an epic 2021 season ended, the Gorzow hero admitted things haven’t slowed down. He said: “I have been doing a lot of work. I want to be well prepared for next season and I am always looking to the future – for me, this is so very important. I have had many meetings with my sponsors and partners. We are talking about what we can do next season and I am also preparing the bikes with the boys.” Zmarzlik recently attended the FIM Awards in Monaco to pick up his 2020 FIM gold medal, so it hasn’t been all work and no play. But there’s no doubting the time of year Bartek relishes most. He said: “Everyone says ‘you have the winter and it’s an easy life now.’ But really no – I think we do more work now than in the season. “In the season, I only race the bike and this is fun for me. I love it. This is a better time for me than now.” Zmarzlik may have come within touching distance of a third world title this year, but the new Lejonen signing is a man always seeking improvement. While he doesn’t plan on changing too much for next year, he admitted: “Everything is a bit of an evolution. I am one year older and I know what I want to do and need to do before next season. Not everything will be different, but with the bike, the body and the head, I am always working.”

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SKIPPER MJJ STAYS WITH SMEDERNA

Danish star Michael Jepsen Jensen is back to captain Smederna in 2022 after extending his stay in Eskilstuna into a fifth straight season. MJJ played a pivotal role in the club’s charge to three straight Swedish Elitserien titles between 2017 and 2019 and also helped them reach this year’s play-off final, which they lost to Dackarna. The former FIM Speedway World Cup and Nordic SGP winner is delighted to be back with the Blacksmiths. He told the club’s official website: "I am happy to be ready for another season with Eskilstuna Smederna and I am grateful for the support I receive from the club and the sponsors who make this possible.” Boss Pierre Lund added: "We are extremely happy that the world's best team captain continues to ride for us in Eskilstuna Smederna. “MJJ is important to us as he always gives his best. He is also a very competent rider in terms of his equipment, and he has a really good team around him.” Elsewhere, Polish racer Przemyslaw Pawlicki has extended his stay with Masarna into 2022. The former FIM Speedway Grand Prix star has raced for the Avesta outfit since 2016 and helped them to Elitserien championship glory in 2020. He joins forces with the likes of local favourites Antonio Lindback and Philip-Hellstrom Bangs, plus Rohan Tungate, Francis Gusts, Krzysztof Buczkowski, Adrian Gala and Emil Millberg. And Piraterna have added Rasmus Broberg to their 2022 squad. He teams up with the likes of Tomas H Jonasson, Oskar Fajfer, Jakub Jamrog, Marcin Nowak and Jonas Seifert-Salk.

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MAGIC SEALS DACKARNA DEAL

Polish icon Maciej Janowski says his return to Swedish champions Dackarna was never in doubt. The Wroclaw-born favourite led the Malilla club to its first league title since 2007 this year, and with Aussie ace Jason Doyle departing to resume his career in the UK and triple world champion Tai Woffinden yet to return, Dackarna were determined to hang on to Janowski. Magic first joined the club in 2016 on the back of winning three straight British Elite League championships with Poole. Since swapping the UK for Sweden, Janowski has become a huge favourite in Malilla and is delighted to be back at the Skrotfrag Arena. He told the club’s official website: “I am happy to announce that I will stay with the Swedish champions Dackarna next season. “After many years at the club, I am used to and thrive in the colours of the Dacks, with the people at the club and the supporters. I feel I get good support from the management and I like the atmosphere at the club. “There was no doubt from either me or the club that I would stay. We are building something serious together and this is confirmed by the title we won in 2021. I think there will be more and I am happy to be a part of Dackarna. See you in 2022.” Team boss Mikael Teurnberg was always hopeful of bringing Janowski back. He said: “I talked to Maciej on the final night in Eskilstuna, before we parted. Ever since then, I have felt confident that he would be in the team next season. It feels great to be able to present it to our sponsors and supporters now. “Maciej was an important cog in the team that drove home Dackarna's first Swedish Championship gold since 2007. “He is part of our backbone and he is the rider in today's Dackarna squad who has raced the longest for the club. “He comes back after a season that was a bit up and down, where he started excellently, but then ended up in a form slump, not least in the GP series. But when we needed him the most, for example, if the Swedish Championship semi-final in Vastervik, he really stepped forward.” Janowski teams up with the likes of two-time Swedish champion Jacob Thorssell, British champion Adam Ellis, Aussie signing Brady Kurtz, American international Luke Becker and Danish racer Rasmus Jensen. Elsewhere, Latvian young gun Francis Gusts has agreed terms with Masarna, where he links up with local heroes Antonio Lindback and Philip Hellstrom-Bangs, plus former Aussie champion Rohan Tungate and Krzysztof Buczkowski and Adrian Gala.

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WORRALL MAKES WOLVES MOVE

Former Great Britain international Steve Worrall has completed a surprise move to SGB Premiership side Wolverhampton for 2021. The 2017 British Championship runner-up has raced for Belle Vue since 2015, but will be swapping the fast and furious National Speedway Stadium circuit for the tight and technical Monmore Green track. Wolves promoter Chris van Straaten admits the chance to sign the ex-Belle Vue skipper was unexpected. But after seeing the St Helens-born star impress while racing for Cradley Heathens in the National League in 2014, Van Straaten admits he was never going to pass up the opportunity to recruit Worrall at SGB Premiership level. “I’d say his move here with the Heathens was the turning point in his career,” Van Straaten said. “He was unstoppable at National League level but was also riding superbly for his other clubs. “I was surprised when he said he was looking for a fresh challenge and I wanted to talk to him. “I believe he’s our type of rider at Wolverhampton – a good team man who never gives up and I believe this will be good for both Steve and for us as a club. “He’s reached a certain level this season but I feel a move like this can add a spark and he can kick on from here. “He has the task of replacing a rider who made himself a legend with supporters in Rory Schlein. Rory is a massive loss but I certainly believe in Steve we have the right man to step into his very big boots.” Worrall joins forces with Aussie duo Sam Masters and Ryan Douglas, plus British young guns Leon Flint and Drew Kemp. Wolves have also been linked with moves for USA star Luke Becker and Aussie rider Nick Morris. But the club has confirmed American international skipper Broc Nicol does not feature in their plans for 2022. Photo: Taylor Lanning

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BEN FUND BONANZA HEADS TO PETERBOROUGH

SGB Premiership champions Peterborough are set to stage the 2022 Ben Fund Bonanza on Sunday, March 27 (2pm) as the sport’s stars and fans gather to raise cash for injured riders. British speedway’s traditional curtain-raiser raises money for the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund – a charity which supports riders temporarily or permanently sidelined due to racing injuries. The meeting did not take place in 2021 as the sport’s calendars were condensed due to the pandemic, but the Ben Fund Bonanza was the only meeting staged before British speedway was plunged into lockdown in March 2020. Ben Fund chairman Paul Ackroyd admits cash raised by the event plays a vital role in the charity’s work over the course of a year. He said: “The last two seasons for us have been exceptionally challenging, so we are of course delighted to see the return of the Bonanza. “This meeting is more than just the traditional season opener for British speedway. This event accounts for nearly 25 percent of our annual income to help injured riders. “What better setting for the Bonanza in 2022 than the track where the Premiership champions were crowned only a couple of months ago. “We are very grateful to Keith Chapman and his brilliant team at Peterborough for putting the East of England Arena at our disposal for this event. I think this is the first time we’ve had the pleasure of staging it here, after our original plans to hold the meeting there in 2018 was scuppered by the infamous ‘Beast from the East’. “Planning is already underway for March 27. There’s a lot of interest from riders and from supporters alike, which is very encouraging news. “I am hopeful that we will attract a sizeable crowd for the return of the Bonanza. We are always well attended and I’m sure that will also be the case at the East of England Arena.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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