Max Fricke celebrated “one of those memories I will never forget” as he stormed to glory overnight at the Orlen FIM Speedway GP of Poland in front of over 50,000 fans at PGE Narodowy on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Victorian topped the podium after a lightning start in the final saw him defeat runner-up Leon Madsen of Denmark and Swedish star Fredrik Lindgren in one of world speedway’s biggest events, which roared back into PGE Narodowy after a three-year break.
It was a night which saw fans in Warsaw display their solidarity with their Ukrainian neighbours as giant tifos of the Polish and Ukrainian flags flew proudly in the PGE Narodowy stands before racing. Over 100 Ukrainian visitors were also welcomed to the event, touring the stadium and meeting the riders during the afternoon.
But the night belonged to Fricke, who picked up his second Speedway GP win – a year and a half after his first at 2020 round seven in Torun. The Mansfield-born racer was elated to celebrate the biggest win of his career in front of the sport’s biggest crowd.
“It’s unreal. It’s unreal to be able to say I have won a GP here in this amazing stadium in front of so many people. I really had to take a few moments, especially after the meeting, to really take in the atmosphere and the crowd. It’s definitely one of those memories I will never forget. I haven’t done a lot of time racing in indoor stadiums. I have ridden in them once or twice, but a long time ago. I knew it was going to be a little trickier tonight. I was just able to feel really comfortable with my bikes. My team did a really amazing job tonight and on Friday at Qualifying Practice to get me into this position and get me feeling good on the bike. Once I got out of the starts, I had plenty of speed.”
Fricke’s victory comes as the perfect tonic after he started the season with just two points at the season-opening FIM Speedway GP of Croatia – Donji Kraljevec on April 30. Fricke is the only 2022 Speedway GP rider who does not compete in Poland’s PGE Ekstraliga – the world’s biggest speedway league. Instead, he followed Zielona Gora into Poland’s First Division following their relegation last year. He becomes the first rider not competing against the world’s best riders in Poland’s top flight to win a Speedway GP round in recent memory.
“I don’t know if it has been done, so it’s definitely something I can say I have done. The most important thing was that I felt really good tonight, regardless of what league I race in. I have been pretty busy and I have been riding a lot, so it was good to bounce back after that first round in Croatia and have a good result.”
Runner-up Madsen was elated to overcome a recent bout of flu and storm to second place in Warsaw, where he topped the podium at the last PGE Narodowy event in 2019. Madsen is now on 30 championship points – two short of series leader Bartosz Zmarzlik, who exited at the semi-final stage with 12 points.
Third-placed Lindgren fell just short of the semi-finals in Croatia, so he was pleased to recover with 16 championship points in Warsaw.
26-year-old Sydneysider Jack Holder scored a top ten finish for the night just ahead of 36-year-old countryman Jason Doyle.
Next up is the Prague FIM Speedway GP of Czech Republic – Prague on Saturday, May 28. The highly-anticipated Marketa Stadium weekend also features the first-ever SGP2 round – the revamped FIM Speedway Under-21 World Championship on Friday, May 27.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.