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Patryk Dudek took victory in the last round in Poland, a healthy eighteen-point haul ensuring that the GP title race goes to the final event decider, at least mathematically. Dudek’s poor nights were where he lost out this season, not doing a good enough damage limitation job when off form. He will be going all out, knowing that anything shy of twenty points is unlikely to be enough to overhaul Jason Doyle.
Tai Woffinden solved his starting problems, taking second spot on the podium at the Marian Rose Moto Arena. After his poor early-season form, he has rescued his GP record, and with his qualification for next season secure, a good result down under may see him secure a top-three series finish.
Bartosz Zmarzlik secured third step on the podium in Poland. Like Woffinden, a run of single figure returns in the early stages have prevented the Pole from challenging, but he is finishing the season well and with no pressure on qualifying for next season he may well be in with a shout in Melbourne.
Sports.net tip for Poland, Matej Zagar, just missed out on a remarkable hat-trick of victories in round eleven, edged out in the final. Zagar’s late season form has been remarkable, and with him needing another healthy score to ensure a return to the series in 2018 he is sure to be amongst the frontrunners.
Last year, Jason Doyle’s fall in the penultimate round of the series ended his season and cruelly robbed him of the chance to claim a first title in front of his home fans in Australia. That he has such a healthy lead this time round should ensure that he can put last year’s nightmare end behind him. With backing of a noisy Etihad crowd, there’s every reason to believe that Doyle will claim his title with an event win on home soil.
Aside from Doyle, the fight is on for the automatic qualification spots. Early season pacesetter Freddie Lindgren’s injury means he is most vulnerable, should a charge be mounted from the pack. The top eight are guaranteed a spot in the 2018 series, and there are two spots that could be in danger. Seventh-placed Lindgren’s absence leaves the door slightly ajar for Martin Vaculik in ninth. However, eighth-placed Zagar is in fine form, and should claim the points he needs in Melbourne to secure his future.
Vaculik won the season’s opener in Slovenia, but he has been on the back foot for much of the second half of the season. Assuming Zagar’s form continues, Vaculik needs an eighteen-point return to overhaul Lindgren, a tall order for a rider now averaging barely eight points per GP.
The only other rider with hopes of making the cut is Chris Holder, and having claimed victory in Melbourne in 2016, he needs to claim a hefty haul and hope Zagar’s return to form is temporary.
With Aussie debutant Justin Sedgman set for his GP debut in place of the injured Max Fricke, and the retiring Davey Watt being promoted to the field after injury to Niels-Kristian Iversen before bowing out in front of his home fans, it should be an emotional night for Australians, one topped off by success for the season’s most consistent performer, Jason Doyle.
Sports.net's Top Tip
Jason Doyle to win the Australian Speedway GP.