At the biggest sporting event ever in Međimurje, 6,500 fans from all over the world cheered for their favourite riders at the sold-out Milenium Stadium in Donji Kraljevec during the Tehnix FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Croatia.
In the race which was full turns after 23 runs, the best rider was Bartosz Zmarzlik from Poland, the two-time world champion and runner-up for 2021.
After Millennium Stadium hosted the final qualification race for the World Championship the last two years in a row, last weekend Međimurje hosted the 16 best riders in the world.
The wild card went to the best Slovenian driver Matej Žagar, the winner of these qualifications, while the two reserves were drivers from Slovenia and Hungary, Nick Škorja and Dennis Fazekas.
12 days of construction, 14 production trucks, four television equipment and the work of almost 200 members of the production and organisational team helped beam Međimurje out to the world.
Over 40 countries broadcast live the first race of the World Speedway Championship – the Tehnix FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Croatia.
Doyle, Holder, Dudek and Lambert faced off in the first run, and the first victory of the evening went to the Briton Lambert, whose training in the pre-season in Croatia paid off.
Nick Škorja got the opportunity to get on the track in the third run to the delight of almost a thousand Slovenian fans when the Danish driver Anders Thomsen started too early and tore the starting ribbon.
“This was one of the best Grand Prix races ever, the riders took advantage of every inch of the track and we witnessed spectacular rides from the best in the world! The organisation of such an event is very complex and exhaustive, especially because this was the first race for the promoter after they took over the license from FIM. We gave our best and I think it was visible to every viewer live but also on television. We are honoured and proud to have organised the largest event in the history of Međimurje and Croatian motorcycling,” said race director Darija Pavlic.
Matej Žagar as a wild card was extremely combative, and he ended the evening in third place in the second semifinal run. Great rides launched him into an elite group of just 11 riders in the history of the Grand Prix competition with over 1000 points won.
“Thanks to the organiser for the invitation. It is a great honour to ride on a track that I know so well and where the atmosphere is always special. I feel at home here and thank the whole Pavlic family and the club for their hospitality. A great track and organisation, which is why I hope that the Grand Prix tradition will continue here,” said Matej Žagar after the race.
After 22 runs in the final, we watched the Polish duo Zmarzlik and Janowski, with danes Anders Thomsen and Mikkel Michelsen. The start was repeated due to the fall of Michkelsen on the first turn. In the repeated run, Michelsen climbed his first Grand Prix podium, while Janowski was second.
To the delight of hundreds of Polish fans and the crowded Milenium Stadium, the winner of the race was the elusive Polish driver and multiple world champion Bartosz Zmarzlik.
“It feels great, although I’m tired, on Friday we rode in the Polish league, covered over 1000 kilometers and arrived just in time for training,” said Zmarzlik. “At the beginning, I felt a bit insecure on this track, but after four runs, everything was sorted out. I am happy to have won tonight. The track in Donji Kraljevec is short, I didn’t feel safe in the corners at first, but after we warmed up, everything was great.”
Maciej Janowski finished on the second step, ninth in the qualifications, and the second best on the eve of the semifinals. “From the beginning of the training I felt great. We got it right with the engine setup, it may not have been seen in the qualifiers, but when it came to racing everything was great.”
European champion Mikkel Michelsen opened his season at a training camp with the Danish national team on this track: “I am happy to have started the season by entering the finals, you always want to win when you get that chance, but the season is long, we are collecting points and I am happy with the race!”
The award for the first place was presented to Bartosz Zmarzlik by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Sandra Herman. The award for the second place to Damie Zamana, was awarded by the Deputy Director of FIM, World Motorcycle Federation, and third place was presented on behalf of the general sponsor Tehnix eko industry Željko Horvat.
Francois Ribeiro, Director of Discovery Sports Events, owner of the rights to organise Speedway Grand Prix races for the next 10 years, also watched the race from the stands. “We chose to start the season in Croatia, it was great to see the crowded stands of Millennium Stadium. I’m sure thousands of fans enjoyed the great speedway. Our goal was to offer additional experience through LED screens, fan zones and new statistics. We are all looking forward to the next race in Warsaw on May 14.”
Results Tehnix FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Croatia:
1 Bartosz Zmarzlik 20, 2 Maciej Janowski 18, 3 Mikkel Michelsen 16, 4 Anders Thomsen 14, 5 Leon Madsen 12, 6 Matej Zagar 11, 7 Robert Lambert 10, 8 Jason Doyle 9, 9 Fredrik Lindgren 8, 10 Martin Vaculik 7, 11 Dan Bewley 6, 12 Patryk Dudek 5, 13 Tai Woffinden 4, 14 Jack Holder 3, 15 Max Fricke 2, 16 Pawel Przedpelski 1, 17 Nick Skorja 0, 18 Dennis Fazekas 0.