Svědík on top at FIM Flat Track World Championship opener
Maximum man Ondřej Svědík (Yamaha) drew first blood as the 2023 FIM Flat Track World Championship got under way in testing conditions at a rain-hit National Speedway Stadium in Belle Vue, Manchester, England, on Saturday night.
The twenty-seven-year-old charging Czech rider won all four of his Heat races and then led every lap of the Grand Final to open up an immediate advantage at the top of the points table as rain threatened to bring a premature end to the action following the first three blocks of racing.
However, extensive and expert track maintenance ensured the racing went ahead after a short delay and the crowd – along with fans watching the action streamed LIVE on FIM-MOTO.TV – were treated to an adrenalin-charged conclusion to the eighteen-race programme.
“This was a new experience for me,” said Svědík. “The track in Manchester is very different compared to where I have raced before, but I enjoyed the experience. To win the first round is huge for me. There are still many rounds to come and this result is a good start to my championship campaign.
“Conditions were challenging to begin with and it was quite wet after the rain, but after the track work it was much better for racing and I am delighted to have won.”
Svědík’s main opposition came from his compatriot Ervin Krajčovič (KTM) with both riders showing great form in the first of five Finals that will be staged over the next two months to decide the destination of the 2023 title.
|The opening block of four six-lap Heats, each contested by seven riders, saw Svědík and Krajčovič share the early lead with Australia’s Jarred Brook (Husqvarna) and Matias Lorenzato (Zaeta) from Argentina.
Svědík and Brook then pulled ahead after winning their second Heats, but Krajčovič remained in contention and former American Grand National Champion Sammy Halbert (GASGAS) and defending champion Gerard Bailo (KTM) from Spain climbed up the leaderboard.
Victories in his final two Heats ensured Svědík got the all-important first pick of starting position for the Grand Final, just one point ahead of Brooks and two clear of Krajčovič and Halbert as the top-ten finishers following the Heats automatically transferred to the twelve-lap main race of the night.
With riders who finished from eleventh to twentieth fighting it out in the Last Chance race for the final two Grand Final places up for grabs, it was Germany’s Markus Jell (KTM) and home hero Jack Bell (Honda) who made the cut.
A first-lap crash by Daniele Tonelli (TM) resulted in a red light, the Italian’s disqualification and a restarted Grand Final which Svědík led from the start chased by Krajčovič with Halbert slotting into third.
With Bailo holding fourth from Brook, the stage was set for a thrilling climax to a tough night of racing as the leading pair gradually opened up an advantage. During the middle stages Brook looked to be closing on Bailo, but his challenge dropped off as Italy’s Matteo Boncinelli (GASGAS) – the 2022 series runner-up – began to apply pressure from behind.
When the chequered flag came out it was Svědík who held on for the win after soaking up race-long pressure from Krajčovič. Halbert was a fighting third ahead of Bailo and Brook with Boncinelli chased across the line by Lorenzato and Jell.
The focus now switches to the second Final of 2023, scheduled for Debrecen in Hungary on 10 September.
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