Fredrik Lindgren leads team to Speedway Event 2 victory
Swedish skipper Fredrik Lindgren led his side into the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final, and then demanded even more after their hard-fought victory in Vastervik on Tuesday. The hosts won Event 2 on 37 points to join Poland and Great Britain at Saturday’s Final at Polish track Leszno.
Russia finished second on 30 to book their place in the Race Off, also in Leszno, on Friday. Meanwhile, qualifiers Latvia sprung one of the biggest upsets in SWC history, dumping four-time Ove Fundin Trophy winners Denmark out of the competition when Andzejs Lebedevs beat Niels-Kristian Iversen in an epic run-off for third after the teams tied on 28.
In one of the most hotly-contested meetings the Monster Energy SWC has witnessed, Lindgren was elated to see his team prevail. But he called on them to raise their level again when they go for gold on Saturday.
“It was entertaining for sure. I’m very impressed with all the teams tonight. Everyone was fighting for every point. The points were so close all the way through the meeting. We are really happy that we were able to pull it off in the end. We’re really happy to be in the Final. I know from before that when you go into the Final, all four nations are good. On the night, anyone can win. We’re going to go there with a positive feeling. Even though we got the result tonight, I don’t think we performed to 100 percent. I think we need perform a little bit better on Saturday to get a gold medal. I was very happy, especially after my crash and exclusion. I was very angry with myself, but I held myself together and got some really important heat wins in my last two. I don’t see us as the underdogs. Obviously Poland will be red-hot favourites on home soil, but I feel we have a lot of quality in our team. We have a couple of guys who are coming into some good form, myself included, and Antonio Lindback is really starting to ride at his best. If everyone can ride to their full potential, we’re in with a really good shot.”
Sweden’s qualification hopes suffered a setback in race eight, when Lindgren was excluded after a crash. So he was delighted to end his night with two wins, the second of which sealed his side’s passage into the Final in heat 19.
The Swedes last lifted the Ove Fundin Trophy in 2015 when they went into the Final at Vojens in Denmark as rank outsiders. Lindgren accepts the Poles will be favourites, but sees no reason why his team can’t bring home gold again.
Russian racer Emil Sayfutdinov backed his side to build on second place in Vastervik, when they meet Australia, USA and Latvia at Friday’s Race Off, with the last spot in the Final up for grabs.
“It will be an interesting meeting. We’ll go to Leszno, try our best to get good points and I hope we will go to the Final. Grigorii Laguta and Vadim Tarasenko scored good points today. Andrei Kudriashov had a few problems. He couldn’t find a good setup I think. But Leszno will be better, and Gleb Chugunov is going well. It was his first meeting in the World Cup and he got some experience. I am really happy for the Latvian team. It’s something different for speedway to see them there. It’s good for the sport.”
Sayfutdinov also hailed Russia’s Latvian neighbours as they reached the Race Off for the first time since 2013.
Latvian skipper Andzejs Lebedevs was in dreamland after his side’s unforgettable run-off victory over the Danes.
“It is very, very good! I don’t know what I can say – our dreams have come true! Before the race, I never thought about this, but now it is real. Before today’s race, there were no nerves – only fun. We had good co-operation with my team mates and the team manager, and that was what we needed for today. Today is my day and my team’s day. We go to the Race Off. We will try to reach the Final.”
The colour draws for the Race Off and Final have been completed by the FIM. Latvia line up in red at the Race Off with Russia in blue, Australia in white and the USA wearing yellow. Sweden have been drawn in red for the Final, with Poland in blue, Great Britain in white and the Race Off winners in yellow.
FIM Speedway World Cup Event 2 Scores
- SWEDEN 37: 1 Fredrik Lindgren 10, 2 Antonio Lindback 11, 3 Andreas Jonsson 8, 4 Linus Sundstrom 8, 5 Joel Kling DNR.
- RUSSIA 30: 1 Emil Sayfutdinov 10, 2 Grigorii Laguta 12, 3 Vadim Tarasenko 7, 4 Andrei Kudriashov 0, 5 Gleb Chugunov 1.
- LATVIA 28+3: 1 Andzejs Lebedevs 15, 2 Maksims Bogdanovs 4, 3 Jevgenijs Kostigovs 4, 4 Kasts Puodzuks 5.
- DENMARK 28+2: 1 Kenneth Bjerre 6, 2 Leon Madsen 6, 3 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 4 Niels-Kristian Iversen 9, 5 Frederik Jakobsen DNR.