SUCCESSFUL SURGERY FOR LAGUTA

Artem Laguta’s manager Rafal Lewicki confirmed the FIM Speedway Grand Prix world champion is recovering well after undergoing surgery to remove metalwork from his collarbone. Laguta went under the knife in Wroclaw on Wednesday, posting images from the operating table on his Instagram page @Laguta222. He initially suffered the break at the Edward Jancarz Memorial meeting in Gorzow on March 31, 2019 and has raced with metalwork since then. But Lewicki says the rider was keen to have the plate removed ahead of his bid for title No.2 in 2022, as well as his meetings for Polish club Wroclaw and Swedish side Vastervik. He said: “The bone was plated and it was alright, but sometimes Artem was not 100 percent confident with a piece of metal in his body. Now everything is alright, it was time to take it out. All was well with the operation and he is already home.” Laguta has already been working hard in the gym ahead of the new season and the Bolshoy Kamen-born star is a regular on the motocross scene. Lewicki is hopeful the Bydgoszcz-based star will be back on two wheels soon. He said: “It’s hard to say how long he will need to rest, but I don’t think it is going to be too long. “When the stitches come out, he may be able to get back to some normal physio and then maybe in a few weeks get back to motocross as well. For sure everything will be back to normal very, very soon.”

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DRABIK MAKES SWEDISH COMEBACK WITH LEJONEN

Double World Under-21 champion Maksym Drabik is back in Sweden’s Bauhaus Elitserien after joining a star-studded Lejonen team for 2022. Following a lengthy legal battle throughout 2020, Drabik served a suspension from racing in 2021, after a drug test in Poland detected higher-than-permitted levels of a nutritional substance. With Drabik cleared to start the 2022 season, the former Wroclaw star has already completed a switch to PGE Ekstraliga side Lublin in Poland. But he won’t be on the move in Sweden as he returns to the club where he spent three seasons from 2017 to 2019. Drabik teams up with the likes of double world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik, former world No.2 Patryk Dudek, former SGP star Oliver Berntzon, double 2021 Lublin SGP finalist Dominik Kubera, World Under-21 champion Jakub Miskowiak and French international Dimitri Berge at the Gislaved club. With Hubert Legowik, Mathias Thornblom and Casper Henriksson also in the squad, next year’s Lejonen team is rapidly emerging as Bauhaus Elitserien title favourites as they target their first championship since 2008. Drabik will also be keen to regain the form which saw him join SGP icons Emil Sayfutdinov and Darcy Ward in the elite club of double FIM Speedway Under-21 world champions. The Pole lifted the title in both 2017 and 2019. Elsewhere, 2020 champions Masarna have added German international Max Dilger to their 2022 team. He teams up with the likes of local favourites Antonio Lindback and Philip Hellstrom-Bangs, plus Przemyslaw Pawlicki, Rohan Tungate, Krzysztof Buczkowski, Francis Gusts, Adrian Gala and Emil Millberg.

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SWIDNICKI HANDED SWEDISH DEBUT WITH DACKARNA

Polish young gun Mateusz Swidnicki is set for his Swedish debut in 2022 after signing for Bauhaus Elitserien champions Dackarna. The Czestochowa junior is set to serve as a back-up star in Malilla, where he will team up with the likes of Polish icon Maciej Janowski, Jacob Thorssell, Adam Ellis, Luke Becker, Brady Kurtz and Rasmus Jensen. Swidnicki made his FIM Speedway Grand Prix debut in the Lublin SGP double-header last August. The 20-year-old also claimed fourth place in the FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship series and will be among the favourites to win the newly-launched SGP 2 series in his final year as a junior. Dackarna boss Mikael Teurnberg believes Swidnicki has a promising future at the Skrotfrag Arena. He told the club’s official website: “Mateusz is a promising guy that I have followed via TV and I have seen his rides in the Polish league and in the World Under-21 Championship. “I have been good friends with his manager and mechanic Darek Lapa for many years. We discussed a possible contract with Dackarna 2022 as early as last autumn. “I do not expect him to be included in the starting line-up, but he will be allowed to grow into it. “What we have talked about is that he will be included as a back-up and there will be times when we will use Mateusz. His team thinks it feels good, and that it suits him and where he is right now in his career.” Swidnicki is delighted with the opportunity to make his Swedish bow. He added: “I am very excited and grateful to have the chance to represent the Dacks, not least because it is the team that I cheer for in Sweden. “I promise that in all the meetings I race, I will give everything I have to make the team, the coach and the fans proud. I have trained harder than ever and know that I will be 100 percent ready for everything I am faced with.”

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ACES SIGNING KURTZ READY TO BOUNCE BACK IN 2022

Aussie star Brady Kurtz has sealed a return to SGB Premiership club Belle Vue for 2022 and is determined to bounce back to full fitness after his 2021 season came to an abrupt end. Kurtz was unable to line up for the Aces in the SGB Premiership Grand Final against Peterborough after suffering severe concussion in a crash at the prestigious Golden Helmet meeting at Czech track Pardubice on October 3. The Cowra-born racer admits some time off Down Under has helped him get over that fall and he’s determined to get back to his best when he teams up with the likes of Max Fricke, Charles Wright and Tom Brennan in Manchester next year. The 25-year-old said: “Obviously I didn’t finish last season in the way I was hoping. Not many people know, but I was unwell for quite a long time after that crash in the Golden Helmet. “But I’m much better now and I think the decision not to ride was beneficial, and with not much racing going on in Australia right now, I’ve been able to further rest up. “I’m hoping over the next few months to continue training for the new season, and to have plate taken out from when I broke my collarbone two years ago. “So by the time I come back to the UK in March, I’ll be 100 percent fit and ready to pick up from where I left off last year.” Kurtz admits extending his stay with the Aces was an easy call. He added: “Returning to Belle Vue wasn’t really much of a decision for me. I was always going to be back and I’m delighted to have the opportunity. “It’s good to see Max, Charles and Tom back. The team is looking pretty good; we’ve got four strong riders so far and I think it’ll be a big year for us. I’ve pretty much grown up with Max and I’ve ridden with Charles in quite a few of the same teams over the years, so we’re all very good friends already.” Photo: Taylor Lanning

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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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