For the 76th time, the speedway sport must pay tribute to the world's best speedway driver. Denmark must go back to 2008 to find the latest senior world champion in the form of Nicki Pedersen. It is also the first time in 27 years that an individual World Cup race is not run on Danish soil.
By Ib Søby
It is, of course, the worldwide corona situation that means that this year's World Speedway Championships - whatever the outcome - have already secured a special place in the history books. Not since the interruption around World War II has the settlement of the World Cup had to deviate so markedly from the original tournament and been stumbling near a regular cancellation.
But the Polish "corona scheme" in June sent virtually the entire world elite to the speedway-loving country. PZM got a league started, and therefore this year's World Cup, with a detour to Prague, will also be a Polish affair.
Whether it will also be a Polish affair purely sporting is difficult to guess. The major tracks in Wroclaw, Gorzow, Prague and Torun are perfectly suited to the type of drivers who are usually well placed on Eastern European tracks. But it also comes into play that two World Cup races are run in two days over four weekends in just five weeks. It gives a completely different and unknown rhythm to both drivers and mechanics.
In short, the engines and equipment can behave very differently at 24 hour intervals.
In 1987, the World Cup was run over two divisions in two days in Amsterdam. At the time, Hans Nielsen won ahead of Erik Gundersen and American Sam Ermolenko. But if you look closely at the two races in Amsterdam, there were - on a similar autumn summer weekend - quite interesting fluctuations.
The World Cup favorites
A look at the Polish rankings after 11 league rounds will highlight Emil Saytfudinov, Bartosz Zmazlik, Artem Laguta and Martin Vaculik as top favorites.
But the courses are prepared quite differently when it comes to the World Cup Grand Prix, and therefore Danish Leon Madsen must also be counted among the exclusive group of gold candidates.
Madsen drove a great European Championship in July, but still lost to British Robert Lambert. At the same time, his Polish club, Czestochowa, has been hit by a tsunami of problems after a match against Gorzow, where they allegedly made mistakes with the pitch. The club's head coach, the seven-time Polish Team World Cup gold coach Marek Cislak, has left the club with immediate effect, and the other day the club was sentenced to lose 0-40 to Gorzow.
It is probably not something that Leon Madsen thinks about this weekend, but the pressure on the Dane is far greater this year than last year, where he won everyone's hearts with his spectacular drive and the formidable finish, where he was eerily close to the World Cup title. .
He was also a darling in the Polish media because he lives and works in Poland, but that has changed drastically because he is now seen as a dangerous competitor to Zmarzlik, Dudek and Janowski.
Now the Polish media are against Leon Madsen, and tabloid newspapers sometimes write the worst untruths about the Danish speedway star.
It will also be extremely exciting to see where British Tai Woffinden really is. He had lots of problems in 2019, and will with the devil's violence and power return to the absolute top.
Then there are people like Jason Doyle, Frederik Lindgren, Patryk Dudek and Maciej Janowski. They can win races, but are they stable enough for a World Cup title?
However, we must remember that the two divisions in Wroclaw make up 25 % of this year's total World Cup races, and both Tai Woffinden and Maciej Janowski run daily in Wroclaw. Janowski is the city's great speedway hero, and if he comes out of the weekend with a decent pile of points, he could become a serious World Cup challenger in Gorzow, Prague and Torun.
Niels Kr. Iversen has struggled with a hand injury, but if he is fit of fight, he can with his great routine also look forward to getting involved in the medal fight.
From the Danish side, of course, they will also have a good eye for the 2019 European champion Mikkel Michelsen, who became a permanent World Cup participant at the expense of an injured Martin Smolinski. Mikkel has everything to gain and nothing to lose, but to finish in the top six - which according to the new rules gives direct access to 2021 - is probably too optimistic to hope for. On the other hand, it is Mikkel's third chance to participate next year, he missed his European Championship title and had a problematic Grand Prix Challenge.
He can go and surprise for the next five weeks.
Also do not forget Matej Zagar, Lindbäck and Fricke.
It will be an unpredictable World Cup.
World champion Bartosz Zmarzlik won in Wroclaw last year when the Olympic Stadium returned to the World Cup calendar after an extensive renovation.
The stadium itself was built in 1928 for the purpose of football, and with the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the stadium was named after field marshal Herman Göring. As early as the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, the Nazis imagined that the Third Reich would host the Olympic Games in the future, and they had designated Wroclaw (Breslau) for a few sports in 1940. As you know, it never came to anything. .
In the post-war period, the speedway kept its entrance to the stadium, and Wroclaw won silver and bronze many times in the Polish league before turning gold in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 2006.
Danish speedway also has fond memories of Wroclaw.
Ole Olsen finished sixth at the World Cup in 1970, the year before he became world champion, and in 1993 Gert Handberg won bronze in Wroclaw. After the introduction of the grand prix system in 1995, Tommy Knudsen, Bjarne Pedersen and Nicki Pedersen have also been at the top of the podium in Wroclaw.
New Points System
Throughout many seasons, speedway fans have found that a rider can win a grand prix while a competitor can score multiple World Cup points in the same grand prix. From Friday, a new and more logical points system will be introduced, which ensures that the grand prix winner is also the one who scores the most points.
The new system - listed below - gives 20 World Cup points to the Grand Prix winner, 18 to number 2, 16 to number 3 and 14 to number 4.
It will still be the run-in heatpoints that decide which eight drivers will make it to the two semifinals. But with the new system, the battle to get to the final itself is getting tougher. For example, there are 6 World Cup points between the one who becomes number four and the one who becomes number nine.
The four semi-finalists who do not reach the final will achieve World Cup points according to how many heat points they have scored that night. In case of punctuality, the known system applies with the most first places, second places, etc.
The same goes for drivers who do not reach the semifinals.
This weekend's judge is Swedish Krister Gardell.
Bartosz Zmarzlik, POL
2. Leon Madsen, DEN
3. Emil Saytfudinov, RUS
4. Frederik Lindgren, SWE
5. Martin Vaculik, SLK
6. Maciej Janowski, POL
7. Jason Doyle, AUS
8. Patryk Dudek, POL
9. Matej Zagar, SLO
10. Niels Kr. Iversen, DEN
11. Artem Laguta, RUS
12. Antonio Lindbäck, SWE
13. Tai Woffinden, UK
14. Max Fricke, AUS
15. Mikkel Michelsen, DEN
16. Cleb Chugunow RUS - wildcard in Wroclaw
August 28, Olympic Stadium, Wrocław
August 29, Olympic Stadium, Wrocław
September 11, Edward Jancarz Stadium, Gorzów
September 12, Edward Jancarz Stadium, Gorzów
September 18, Marketa Stadium, Prague
September 19, Marketa Stadium, Prague
October 2, Marian Rose MotoArena, Toruń
October 03, Marian Rose MotoArena, Toruń
The new points system:
It is interesting to note that if the new points system had been in force in 2019, Leon Madsen would have become world champion with 154 points ahead of Bartosz Zmarzlik with 147.
Madsen scored 130 against Zmarzlik's 132.
All races start at 19.00 and is shown in Denmark on Viasat's channels.