Speedway - Sayfutdinov wins in Sweden

Russian sensation Emil Sayfutdinov 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.

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Speedway - Season looks over for Sayfutdinov
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Emil Sayfutdinov (Imago)

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.

The 2009 Gothenburg winner, who was unaware of the tragic news until after the post-meeting press conference, was delighted to triumph in Sweden again, and hopes the victory will comfort his family at this most difficult of times.

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 has been inundated with messages of support from fellow riders and fans alike. He added: “Everyone has helped me this week with sending messages and thank you very much to all my sponsors and fans who have done that. I can’t say enough to thank them. So many fans applauded and congratulated me after the final. It means a lot.”

Emil’s father was a keen motocross and ice speedway rider and gave the Indianerna man his love of racing.

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.

He said: “I’ll do everything I can to become world champion – I’d love it. I feel better this season, but I’m not thinking about becoming world champion right now.

“I’m just thinking about every heat and every meeting and just getting more points. It’s very difficult because this is the Grand Prix, so we’ll see what happens.”

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.”

Pedersen wasn’t the only rider in the wars as Australian star Darcy Ward was taken away by ambulance for X-rays on a suspected broken collarbone after crashing in race six.

The injured duo will hope to be fit in time for the Mitas Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Prague on May 18.

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