Denmark has won 32 individual medals, since Ole Olsen broke through the speedway sound wall at Nya Ullevi in Gothenburg 48 years ago. Saturday night, medal number 33 awaits, but what carat Leon Madsen - probably - gets hung around his neck in Torun, is somewhat more difficult to guess. If the 30-year-old Dane ends up on the podium and Bartosz Zmarzlik misses the semi-finals, can it ends with gold.
By Ib Søby
The key issue up to Saturday's World Cup decision, of course, is how Bartosz Zmarzlik is, mentally, at 7pm at the Marian Rose Arena in Torun. He won bronze in 2016 and silver last year. Now he comes to Torun with a significant lead of seven points for Saytfudinov and nine for Leon Madsen.
Can Zmarzlik keep his head cold and the gas bottom?
Can he stand up to pressure and become his speedway-loving country's third world champion of all time? What strategy - if any - has his father and his team laid out? How does PZM coach Marek Cieslak assess the situation? And will he possibly get help from, for example, Maciej Janowski and Patryk Dudek, who are both top 8 candidates but who do not have medal chances themselves?
Bartosz Zmarzlik was born in the northern Polish port city of Stettin, and despite his only 24 years he has won the World Cup twice with Poland's national team and four times with Poland's U21 team. He was the individual U21 World Champion in 2015, and he has run 47 races in the World Cup, where it has made 23 finals. Six times he has been at the top of the podium & #8211; no later than September in Vojens.
23 finals out of 47. That's an exceptionally high statistic.
He became the youngest finalist in speedway history when, on a wildcard, he reached 3rd place in the Gorzow Grand Prix 2012. Compared to Torun, Bartosz Zmarzlik also has a reasonable statistic for the past three seasons. In 2016 and 17, he reached the final and became No. 3 both times. Last year, he scored 15 points at Marian Rose Arena and finished in the semi-finals.
In the past season, Bartosz Zmarzlik has run two races in the Danish league as guest runners in North Zealand's Slangerup. In June, I talked to him about the opportunity to become a world champion:
& #8211; I do not want to predict anything until the very last heat has been run in Torun. Madsen and Saytfudinov can still achieve a lot, and Lindgren can also become dangerous, Zmarzlik said three months ago.
He has this thesis & #8211; sensible enough & #8211; even after the triumph in Vojens, where Leon Madsen lost ground, Zmarzlik told the Danish press that there were still four World Cup candidates in play!
Where Zmarzlik has everything to lose, Madsen and Saytfudinov can run more freely on Saturday night. They can just pick as many points as possible and see how far it goes. But if Zmarzlik, for example, smokes in the starting tape in his first start, or comes across other obstacles, it can all go nerve-wracking and exciting.
With seven points after Zmarzlik, double Russian team-world champion Emil Saytfudinov has the opportunity to write new Russian speedway history. Not since "The Meteor from Ufa" Igor Plechanov won the World Cup silver in both 1964 and 1965, a Russian has been in the top two in the individual World Cup.
& #8211; I will try to catch Zmarzlik. That is my clear goal. I will do everything I can, although I am well aware that he has a nice lead. It will be an extremely interesting showdown in Torun, Emil Saytfudinov told speedwaygp.com a few days ago
& #8211; Bartosz and Leon are fast. We saw that in Cardiff too, but I have to think for myself. If I do not do my utmost, it is subordinate to what happens, says Saytfudinov.
Slovenian Matej Zagar gets a Danish super fan on Saturday night. Is a person who, from the pit, sincerely hopes that Zagar will come a long way and secure further grandprix life.
Of course, this is the 25-year-old Fynbo - and future Vojens driver - Anders Thomsen. For the cash fact that if Zagar finishes in the top 8, Thomsen is guaranteed a grandprix ticket in 2020. Thomsen has been in contact with World Cup organizer BSI / IMG in London and has been confirmed to be on the run, by virtue of his 5th place at this year's Grandprix Challenge in Croatia
If it misses Matej Zagar, Thomsen, as a consolation, will be the first reserve next year. Traditionally, this will give some grand prix starts, due to the misfortunes and injuries of others.
Judge on Saturday is Swedish Krister Gardell.
World Cup Position:
1. Bartosz Zmarzlik, POL 118
2. Emil Saytfudinov, RUS 111
3. Leon Madsen, DAN 109
4. Frederik Lindgren, SVE 98
5. Martin Vaculik, SLK 88
6. Maciej Janowski, POL 80
7. Patryk Dudek, POL 75
8. Matej Zagar, SLO 74
9. Jason Doyle, AUS 73
10. Artem Laguta, RUS 69
11. Niels Kr. Iversen, DAN 66
12. Antonio Lindbäck, SVE 56
13. Tai Woffinden, ENG 51
14. Janusz Kolodziej, POL 51
15. Robert Lambert, ENG 37
Latest World Cup podiums:
1. Tai Woffinden 139
2. Bartosz Zmarzlik 129
3. Frederik Lindgren 109
1. Jason Doyle 161
2. Patryk Dudek 143
3. Tai Woffinden 131
1. Greg Hancock 139
2. Tai Woffinden 130
3. Bartosz Zmarzlik 128
1. Tai Woffinden 151
2. Greg Hancock 126
3. Nicki Pedersen 124
Individual Danish World Cup medals:
Ole Olsen, 1971, 1975, 1978
Erik Gundersen, 1984, 1985, 1988
Hans Nielsen, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1995
Nicki Pedersen, 2003, 2007, 2008
Jan O. Pedersen, 1991
Hans Nielsen, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1996
Ole Olsen, 1981
Erik Gundersen, 1987
Jan O. Pedersen, 1986
Nicki Pedersen, 2012
Nicki Pedersen 2006, 2014, 2015
Ole Olsen, 1972, 1977
Hans Nielsen, 1991, 1999
Jan O. Pedersen, 1988
Gert Handberg, 1992
Tommy Knudsen 1981
Niels Kr. Iversen 2013