Freddie Lindgren claimed victory last time out in Prague, maintaining his slender advantage at the top of the GP standings. The Swede had to tough it out, making a last lap move on Patryk Dudek to take the chequered flag having already courted controversy with a first lap squeeze on Tai Woffinden. His steely determination and apparent new-found focus seems set to ensure that his challenge won’t be tailing of as it did last season.
Dudek himself had an excellent meeting in the Czech Republic. The Pole may not have been able to fend off Lindgren’s last-gasp challenge, but a 14-point haul keeps him neatly placed in third in the title race. The fact that neither Lindgren nor Woffinden excelled here last season will offer encouragement.
Emil Sayfutdinov claimed third spot in Prague, much to the delight of the travelling army of Russian fans. He has promised much for a number of years, and having claimed second step on the podium at the Casa Arena in 2017 he has every reason to believe that he is finally coming into the form necessary for a genuine title challenge.
Woffinden was the most frustrated man at the Marketa Stadium and will be out for some revenge. The Brit had ridden an impeccable meeting, but was squeezed into the fence by Lindgren on the opening lap of the final. Despite signing off with that DNF in the closing ride, he matched Lindgren’s points tally for the evening. Trailing Lindgren by a single point in the standings, Woffinden was without doubt the rider of the night and he and Lindgren look set for an epic battle throughout the season ahead.
Maciej Janowski was very much best of the rest in the Czech Republic. His challenge faded after starting well, but having claimed victory at the Casa Arena last season - a comfortable one at that - he has every reason to feel confident that he can close the gap on the leading pair when the tapes go up in Denmark.
Defending champion Jason Doyle improved on his poor opening meeting, reaching the semi-finals in Prague. With two meetings fewer on the calendar in 2018, he needs to rediscover last season’s form quickly in order to mount a genuine title defence, but the star rider of the last two seasons has everything in his arsenal to do just that.
Artem Laguta had been the surprise package in the opening meeting in Poland. He battled his way to the semi-finals in Prague, proving that the opening meeting final spot had been no fluke, and he is gaining confidence with every ride. An outside shot maybe, but certainly not one to be dismissed.
Veteran Nicki Pedersen was perhaps the biggest surprise at the Czech meeting. His participation was only confirmed at the last minute, having struggled with a broken hand sustained in April. Not only did he collect eight points - better than anything he achieved in his stop-start campaign of 2017 - but his domestic form has seen him posting maximums and returning to action in Sweden in addition to his Polish league starring role. With raucous home support and a real purple patch of form, he could well provide an unexpected success.
Round two in Prague provided action and unpredictability all the way to the final lap. Suggestions that this season will be a straight shootout between Lindgren and Woffinden could be dismissed with a victory from one within the chasing pack, but Woffinden looked largely untouchable in the Czech Republic, so he remains our pick for what should be a cracker of a meeting.
Sports.net’s Top Tip:
Tai Woffinden to win