Russian hero Emil Sayfutdinov is revelling in the “amazing feeling” of leading his country to a second straight Monster Energy FIM Speedway of Nations title on home shale in Togliatti on Sunday.
Sayfutdinov joined forces with Artem Laguta and under-21 star Gleb Chugunov to retain the trophy they won in Wroclaw last summer, this time beating Poland with a 5-1 in the Grand Final to spark euphoric scenes at the Anatoly Stepanov Stadium.
Their 2018 gold medal was the nation’s first senior world title of any kind and their second came in the first speedway world final ever staged in Russia. It was a moment few in Togliatti will ever forget.
An elated Sayfutdinov said: “It’s great. It’s an amazing feeling because it was such a tough meeting. But we did it.
“We made the final and we just focused and concentrated on the final. We won the start and just went forward. I am so happy.
“We worked hard. Saturday was a hard meeting and Sunday was harder. The track at the beginning was different to Saturday.
“We needed to find some good speed, but we did a great job and I want to say thank you very much to my team and everyone who helped me. I feel so great.
“There were a lot of people there. It was our people in Russia and everyone was standing up for us. That’s an amazing feeling.”
FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship leader Sayfutdinov scorched to 17 points on Saturday and 14 on Sunday. It was not enough to deny Poland top spot on the overall scorechart as they qualified automatically for the Grand Final on 47.
Russia on 45 were forced to face third-placed Australia, who scored 41, in the Final Qualifier. Despite Jason Doyle winning the race, second and third for Laguta and Sayfutdinov was enough to send them through due to their superior points tally in the heats. They then out-trapped and defeated Poland in the Grand Final.
Last year it was Laguta who scored 31 of Russia’s 45 points. But after returning the compliment with 31 of his own this season, Sayfutdinov says he wasn’t concerned who delivered the points for the team.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “The whole team was pushing, me and Artem. It doesn’t matter who scores the most points. We did a great job.”
Poland were forced to settle for silver, despite topping the scores over two days and Bartosz Zmarzlik dropping just one point over 12 heats.
Skipper Maciej Janowski sat out Day 2 after being left battered and bruised following a crash in heat 21 of Final 1, with Patryk Dudek stepping in. He paid tribute to his compatriots’ efforts in his absence.
He said: “They did a really good job. They were so close, and a final after a two-day meeting is always a little bit of a lottery.
“I am very proud of the boys. They gave 100 percent and did a really good job. I think we can be very proud.”
Aussie star Max Fricke saluted his side as they claimed bronze – the nation’s first medal in a world team event since they finished third in the 2014 Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final at Bydgoszcz.
He said: “It’s awesome for Australia to be up there and get a medal. We haven’t had a medal for a couple of years now.
“I think everyone is really happy. We couldn’t ask for much more. Doyley was absolutely on fire this weekend and he scored an absolute bagful for us. That was great.
“Jaimon (Lidsey) was awesome as the under-21 as well. It’s lucky we had a really good under-21 reserve to help us out.”
The action now switches back to the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series, which resumes in Wroclaw on August 3.
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