Matej Zagar sprang the biggest surprise at the Bergring Arena in Germany by taking victory. He went into the meeting struggling to make a dent in the top eight, so his win was very welcome. His form since then has been electric, posting sixteen and seventeen-point returns domestically in Polish league play-offs, so his shock win may not end up being an isolated event.
Runner-up in Germany was Martin Vaculik. Another rider struggling to hang onto his spot in the elite, Germany was his best performance since winning round one in Slovenia in April. Holding eighth spot going into the final three events, he will need to continue this form to be guaranteed a return next season.
At the head of the title chasers, the ever-consistent Jason Doyle strengthened his lead. His seventeen-point return saw him top score for the night, despite not claiming the event victory. With a ten-point gap at the top of the leaderboard he is now the bookies’ clear to claim the title.
The fourth-place finisher in Germany was one nobody expected. Chris Holder had been in poor form domestically, but with the controversy surrounding his nine-month domestic ban for refusing to ride for Kings Lynn against Poole, maybe his focus has become more acute on his international rides. Even so, sitting in tenth spot it is hard to see a repeat on the horizon.
The chasing pack going into Germany all had evenings to forget and are realistically in need of Jason Doyle having an off night in Stockholm to make significant enough progress. They will be buoyed by the memory of Doyle’s paltry five-point return the last time the series came to Sweden, but will need to improve significantly on their own meagre returns in Germany.
Second place in the table is Patryk Dudek. The former table-topper only reached the semi-finals in Germany, surprisingly losing to both Holder and Zagar in his last eight heat. Dropping six points to Doyle, he will need to convert consistency into some heavy scoring to make up the gap.
Third place in the standings is Maciej Janowksi, but his challenge has gone into freefall. Seven points in Germany following a six-point return in Poland in round eight is not good enough, totalling four less than Doyle’s German meeting alone. If he cannot produce something spectacular then his challenge may be over.
Freddie Lindgren was left frustrated by a semi-final exclusion in Germany that potentially cost him third place in the table. Since Germany, he has retained the SGB Premiership Riders’ Championship so is well-placed to up his game in the final three GP meetings.
As for the British challenge, Tai Woffinden broke his season’s duck in round eight with a convincing win, but a disastrous five points in Germany means he now stands twenty points adrift with three meetings to go. He has vowed to keep fighting through to the final event in Australia, but after a heavy fall in a domestic meeting in Poland on Sunday it remains to be seen whether his form can match his spirit.
With a ten point lead in the championship, 2016 event winner and the track record holder at the Friends Arena, Jason Doyle is the only bet worth taking to tighten his grip with victory this Saturday.
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