Aussie World Champion Chris Holder has finished second to Russian sensation Emil Sayfutdinov, who dedicated his Fogo Swedish FIM Speedway Grand Prix triumph to his late father Damir after he lost his fight with cancer shortly before the meeting in Gothenburg on Saturday.
The 23-year-old produced a breathtaking, last-lap swoop around world champion Chris Holder to top the rostrum and add to the gold medal he claimed in Bydgoszcz on April 20.
Sayfutdinov missed his Polish club Czestochowa’s home meeting with Leszno last Sunday to stay at his father’s bedside in Russia. But the Salavat-born racer opted to return to the track at the Ullevi Stadium and produced a courageous, daredevil, lightening-quick performance.
He said: “When I was at home, I said to my dad ‘I’ll win this for you.’ I did that. My family will feel much better for this hopefully.”
Sayfutdinov is now second in the World Championship standings on 38 points, putting him just two behind Polish hotshot Tomasz Gollob. Winning the World Championship would be the ultimate tribute to Damir’s memory and the double World Under-21 champion remains ready to fight for the prize this season.
Runner-up Holder admits he didn’t have the pace to match Sayfutdinov after the Russian robbed him of what would have been his fifth SGP victory just three turns from the chequered flag.
The Aussie international, who is now sixth in the World Championship on 33 points, said: “My gating was probably the best it has been all year. I was really happy with that, but Emil was so much quicker.
“I was trying to race the line that he was on, but I wasn’t quick enough so I had to change. As soon as I changed, he went straight around me. Fair play to him; he was on it and he was the quickest guy here.
“To make a final in this field is a good achievement. Maybe I’m not so happy now, but tomorrow I will be happy with second. The bikes are going well.”
Danish racer Nicki Pedersen picked up an heroic third place ahead of Jaroslaw Hampel, despite injuring his left arm in a semi-final fall with Britain’s Tai Woffinden.
“It’s not really what you want,” he said. “It happens sometimes in the first turn. Woffy picked up a bit and we were both going for the gap. Unfortunately I went over the handlebars and landed on my wrist. It’s very painful at the moment.
“I made the final and I should be happy. I just hope there is nothing broken so that I can be ready in two week’s time.”
Aussie Darcy Ward suffered the cruelest of blows on his 21st birthday when he sustained a serious shoulder injury.
Heading into the meeting as the second highest scorer in the series, Ward was involved in a nasty looking Heat 6 crash as he tried to make up ground on his fellow Poole, Torun and Australian team-mate Chris Holder.
Ward had already been ‘given the bumps’ when he tangled with Nicki Pedersen in his first ride but was able to walk away and take his place in the re-run of that heat, but failed to gain any return.
The injured duo will hope to be fit in time for the Mitas Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Prague on May 18.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tomasz Gollob 40, 2 Emil Sayfutdinov 38, 3 Jaroslaw Hampel 38, 4 Tai Woffinden 35, 5 Nicki Pedersen 34, 6 Chris Holder 33, 7 Matej Zagar 28, 8 Greg Hancock 27, 9 Niels-Kristian Iversen 26, 10 Darcy Ward 25, 11 Andreas Jonsson 18, 12 Antonio Lindback 17, 13 Fredrik Lindgren 17, 14 Krzysztof Kasprzak 13, 15 Martin Vaculik 12, 16 Krzysztof Buczkowski 6, 17 Linus Sundstrom 6, 18 Jason Bunyan 1.
FOGO SWEDISH SGP SCORES: 1 Emil Sayfutdinov 17, 2 Chris Holder 14, 3 Nicki Pedersen 12, 4 Jaroslaw Hampel 15, 5 Tai Woffinden 12, 6 Niels-Kristian Iversen 10, 7 Matej Zagar 9, 8 Tomasz Gollob 9, 9 Greg Hancock 8, 10 Antonio Lindback 8, 11 Krzysztof Kasprzak 7, 12 Linus Sundstrom 6, 13 Fredrik Lindgren 5, 14 Andreas Jonsson 3, 15 Martin Vaculik 3, 16 Dennis Andersson 0, 17 Mathias Thornblom 0, 18 Darcy Ward 0.