Round 3 HORSENS Denmark Saturday 30th June
2018 Speedway Grand Prix – Round 3 Horsens Denmark – Saturday 30th June
|Tipster||Tip||Rider||Best Available Odds||1/5 ODDS 1-3|
|David||1st||Freddie Lindgren||5/1 (SkyBet Bet 365)||1 e/w|
|David||2nd||Maciej Janowki||8/1(general)||1 e/w|
|David||3rd||Matej Zagar||33/1 (SkyBet)||1/2 e/w|
|David||4th||M Jepsen - Jensen||22/1 (SkyBet)||½ e/w|
|Ian||1st||Tai Woffinden||9/2 (Bet 365)||1 e/w|
|Ian||2nd||Jason Doyle||15/2 (WH)||1 e/w|
|Ian||3rd||Matej Zagar||33/1 (SkyBet)||½ e/w|
|Ian||4th||Chris Holder||40/1 (Bet 365)||½ e/w|
After a 4 week break; during which the inaugural “Speedway of Nations Cup” a Pairs Competition with heats and Finals run over a 1 week period was run, we return to GP action at Horsens in Denmark this Saturday.
The Speedway of Nations was won by Russia with Artem Laguta and Emil Sayfutdinov prominent and they beat Great Britain in a Race Off; and despite GB winning both Rounds of Finals on the Saturday and Sunday, and Tai Woffinden winning the Race Off Final, the fact that the Russians finished 2nd and 3rd and scored a notional “bonus point” in the 3-3 drawn race, rather controversially, gave them the Title. Woffinden was head and shoulders the best rider of the weekend with Laguta.
In my opinion you can’t blame the Russians or GB – Woffinden and Laguta were outstanding throughout ; but those who make the Rules need to have a look at the “Race Off” concept. It may be suited to a “one off meeting” on one day, but over a 2 day meeting; it stretches credulity a bit and needs sorting.
Back to Saturday and a little bit about HORSENS! (which has nothing to do with horses!)
It is a Football Stadium and therefore the Track is “temporary”. Unlike some Football Stadia that have permanent Tracks around them, this will be built in the 7-10 days prior to Racing and then removed. The skills and technology of building these tracks has improved considerably over the years but with weather and other factors, they can cut up and rut up, and become very unpredictable.
The Track Length in past 3 years is recorded as 272 metres; we have to assume it will be laid identically this time . That is smaller than most GP venues; and the track is more technical and tight with sharper bends, more akin to UK tracks. Looking at the track length and shape the nearest in the UK would be Eastbourne at 275 meters and probably the most technical race-track in the UK and one where you can pass inside and out and always superbly prepared, it is also a similar size to other UK tracks like Redcar and Scunthorpe, and a bit bigger but less tight and tricky than Wolverhampton.
So on to the thoughts and predictions of David and Myself-;
The “Gate Bias” has improved dramatically here over the past 3 stagings, in 2015 it was a Gate 1 paradise; but draw bias has really levelled out if 2017 is anything to go by, no real advantage and as the dirt line moves all Gates have decent success ratio. The tighter turn will undoubtedly enable some to “cut back” off the outside gates a tactic, I described in detail in Round 2.
Matej Janowski won this equivalent meeting in both 2016 and 2017 and made a point of explaining that his experience of UK Tracks was vital in his success and it is hard to leave him out of deliberations based on his pedigree here and in the UK. The BIG missing for me is “Neils Kristian Iversen”, as GP stand-by he has covered for the injured Martin Vaculik in Rounds 1 and 2, and whilst it is great to see Vaculik back in action this weekend; it is inexplicable to me that the Danish Governing Body has decided to award the Home Wild Card not to NK-I but to the enigmatic Michael Jepsen – Jensen. He is a good rider and could be VERY competitive here; but it is the latest in a string of baffling decisions made by the Danes; whose stock in Global Speedway is probably lower now than it has been; since the emergence of the great Ole Olsen in the late 1960’s early 1970’s, with the previous conveyor belt of Danish talent from their 50cc boys programme seemingly drying up!
So who are my 1-2-3 and Dark Horse on this quirky track; that will require an intricate and evolving bike and engine set up; as opposed to just the raw power needed on the Polish speed bowls?
Tai Woffinden; is in the form of his life both individually and in the recent Team Event. He has to be a strong contender here, has all the experience needed and also knows how to work his way to be in contention at the vital stages. He will be disappointed if he is not again in the Final race off. Any Achilles heel here?; possibly not the best gater IF the track is slick.
Freddie Lindgren considering his UK base was Wolverhampton, where you almost have to turn the bike on a sixpence in the corners; has not done as well here in the past as you would imagine. That may mask though the fact that he has come here more than once a bit “beaten up” and as I pointed out last time, the fact he is now riding regularly in 2 Countries and not 3 (has not ridden in UK this season) seems to have rejuvenated him somewhat. Indeed the same could be said for Woffinden.
Jason Doyle really now needs to get his proverbial “backside” in to gear if he is to have any hope of a meaningful defence of his Title. I see him improving here considerably on the first 2 rounds, possibly making a Final but that World Champion “target” still sits uneasily on his back in my humble opinion.
Artem Laguta has been the surprise package so far (well may be not to those who have followed SP2A season and meeting predictions) but if there are 2 venues I’d see him struggling at; it would be here and Cardiff in 3 weeks (another temporary track) and if he could muster 9-10 points here then I think he would be both delighted and scaring the rest massively. The same applies to Patryk Dudek; who has accumulated points very stealthily so far without being at his brilliant best. Great to see Vaculik back but this would never be “his cup of tea” even fully tuned up and fit and I also think Zmarzlik; Pawlicki and Cook will struggle here.
I will consider Sayfutdinov; Zagar and Holder as worthy “dark horses” in this particular Round and hopefully Nikki Pedersen can both put on a show and also avoid further injury, whilst Greg Hancock is the proverbial spoiler as he could make 7 gates, ride slower than anyone else and use sheer track craft to build up a monster score, he will see here and Cardiff of his best chances of a swansong win!
That leaves the already mentioned wild-card M-J-Jensen who I could see nicking a semi final place at best and Chris Holder, former Champion, sadly confined to European action only this summer, due to the quite barmy UK Visa Regulations that prevent him from working in the UK this year due to some form of domestic issues and politics around that, may be he should arrive in Italy on a Rowing Boat and claim asylum, he would probably be immediately given a Visa for life!
My 1-2-3 and Dark Horse
I cannot leave TAI WOFFINDEN out of the equation on his current form and with his current levels of intensity and focus. He also brings a measure of “unsettled business” feeling that ex Team Mate Lindgren was unduly aggressive with a move in the Final at The Marketa and that swings him as my clear favourite for this Round in terms of the overall Final win. (He may not accumulate most points on the way to the semis but I feel he will peak when it matters).
I can’t leave JASON DOYLE out here either, he was riding round tracks like this in the UK in the lower league when some of the younger riders were in shorts, he has a point to prove and I think we will see him riding more like a World Champion here. I also think the UK experience of the super smooth and fast gating MATEJ ZAGAR could see him in the semi-finals at least and he can ride away from anyone when he gets in the groove.
For my dark horse and looking at the betting I think the one most likely to out ride their odds is CHRIS HOLDER as I can see this being quite brutal in the more confined spaces and I’d quite like a couple of street fighting boxing Kangeroo’s in my corner as a result.
Horsens plays host for the Danish Speedway GP for just the 4th time with the event moving here in 2015, having previously been at Vojens and, then, the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. The stadium is primarily used for football and the track is a temporary one.
In addition to the eight-times Danish Champion, Nicki Pedersen, the home crowd will also have the wild card MICHAEL JEPSEN JENSEN to cheer on this year. After a problematic few years, MJJ has been back in excellent form this season and was one of the stars of the recent Speedway Of Nations where he scored 27 of his country’s 35 points in the final. He has won the Nordic GP, at Vojens in 2012, and finished 3rd here in 2015 so has the ability and temperament to compete at this level when on his game. At current odds of 22/1 he is one of my two ‘dark horses’ for this meeting.
The GP at this venue in the last 2 years has been won on both occasions by MACIEJ JANOWSKI and he is also the track record holder. He was one of my e/w bets for the overall title at the start of the season and on a ‘going day’ he is really exciting to watch. He has started off the series in good form and, with his record here in recent years, he has to be a strong contender to make the final, at least, in round 3.
I am reliably informed that this circuit, when down, is very similar to that at Warsaw and, of course, Maciej rode extremely well there in the opening round, finishing 2nd in the final so, assuming that the lay-out, configuration etc is similar to previous years, he ranks as a strong each-way selection for me.
The betting is currently dominated by the 2 at the top of the overall standings presently and it is likely that one or both of FREDDIE LINDGREN and TAI WOFFINDEN, both of whom also rode well at Warsaw, will make the final at least. Both have been around long enough now to know that it’s not always about winning the GP but accumulating enough points each round to stay in the hunt for the big prize at the end of the season. Both are riding extremely well this year, with Freddie seemingly benefiting from not having to travel back and forth to the UK each week for league action and Tai in a much better place ‘mentally’. Tai continued his excellent form in the recent Cup Of Nations when dropping only 1 point in 13 races over the two-night final as Great Britain came an excellent 2nd and, in the last month or so, he has been the best rider in the world. The bookies have not missed this, however, and he is the obvious favourite.
The relatively small track (by GP standards at least) at Horsens is one that could suit riders who have shown great ‘technical’ skill in the past and, having become the real King of Monmore Green in his time at Wolverhampton, this should play to the strengths of FREDDIE LINDGREN. The tight Wolves track is one where you need to be at your best, from a technical point of view, and quickly adapt your set-up if required. The track at Wolverhampton often leads to some excellent racing, with different lines becoming available off the bends and it could be very similar here. As mentioned above, Freddie is in the form of his life and it will be no surprise to see him make the final once more here. He also looks to have been given a pretty favourable draw which could the luck he needs to give him the edge leading into the semi-finals.
One of the victorious Russian pair, who defeated GB in that Cup of Nations Final was EMIL SAYFUTDINOV and he has shown glimpses of his old form so far this season. He may not have won a GP for 5 years, having missed several seasons, but his hunger looks to be back and he is riding with great skill and bravery. He made the final in Prague and was the runner-up here last year, only losing out to Janowski in the last third of the race. He could go very well again here this year.
My other ‘dark horse’ for this meeting is MATEJ ZAGAR. The Slovenian has 5 GP wins to his name in his career so far, including 2 last year in Germany and Sweden, and has been solid if not spectacular so far this season. His record at this venue is a very solid one too, having made the semi-final in each of the last 2 years and the final the year before (finishing 2nd). He is a rider who has improved with age and his current odds of 33/1 look huge to me in the context of his track form and his consistent performances so far this year.
Those, then, are the 6 riders on my final short-list and from those I’m taking the following as my picks for the 1-2-3-4, with two main contenders and two ‘dark horses’ at bigger odds:-
1. FREDDIE LINDGREN – 5/1 (Skybet, BET365)
2. MACIEJ JANOWSKI - 8/1 (Most Firms)
3. MATEJ ZAGAR – 33/1 (Skybet)
4. MICHAEL JEPSEN JENSEN – 22/1 (Skybet)
Unfortunately, I’m unable to watch the action unfold live on TV, as I have to go out, but I’m sure it’s going to be another great meeting!