Speedway Under 21

Bartosz Smektała

2018 FIM Speedway Under 21 World Champion

Born on 22 August 1998 in Śrem, Poland

BARTOSZ BAGS THE TITLE

Bartosz Smektala gained revenge on his compatriot Maksym Drabik after another sensational battle for the FIM Speedway Under 21 World Championship, with the two Polish riders swapping their final championship positions from 2017 as Bartosz bagged the title at the final round in Pardubice in September.

After three qualifying rounds in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Poland in June, the first of three finals took place at the end of the month at the Daugavpils track in Latvia, where Drabik opened his defence by establishing a three-point advantage over Smektala and British youngster Robert Lambert, who briefly led the final before conceding to Drabik.

The defending champion then claimed an unbeaten 21-point haul in the second final on home soil at Leszno in July to establish a clear six-point advantage over Smektala, with Lambert a further five points back after being squeezed out in the semi-final. However, drama was to follow from the start in Pardubice, with Drabik taking only three points from his first two rides, having dropped only one point in the previous fourteen races in this competition.

Smektala looked like he would dominate on the superbly prepared track butDrabik recovered his composure to collect eleven points and reach the last race with a one-point lead overall. However, the Final was to prove his downfall after he was boxed out in a first-bend scramble and was unable to make any impression on Smektala, who cruised to the win ahead of Lambert and snatched the title by two points. 

PALMARES

World title – 2018

Maksym Drabik

2019 FIM Speedway Under 21 World Champion

Born on 22 February 1998 in Czestochowa, Poland

© Nuno Laranjeira

© Nuno Laranjeira

DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR DRABIK

Maksym Drabik became only the third rider in history to become a double FIM Speedway Under-21 World Champion at the final round of the season in Pardubice. Third place on the night and fourteen points were enough for the Polish youngster to seal gold on forty-nine points overall, as he joined previous double champions Emil Sayfutdinov of Russia and Australia’s Darcy Ward among the competition’s greats in his final season at junior level.

Defending champion Bartosz Smektala - runner-up to Drabik when he won his first title in 2017 - finished second in Pardubice to force a run-off for this year’s silver medal with compatriot Dominik Kubera, who notched nine to leave the pair tied on forty-five overall. Smektala triumphed as the duo took their places alongside Drabik in a Polish one-two-three on the championship podium.

Despite winning the rounds in Lublin and Pardubice, Gleb Chugunov’s nine-point haul at the middle round in Gustrow cost him dearly as he had to make do with fourth place overall on thirty-nine. The Russian won the Pardubice final ahead of Smektala, Drabik and the latest Australian Under-21 champion Jaimon Lidsey, who scored an impressive fifteen on the night.

PALMARES

World title – 2017, 2019

2017 FIM Speedway Under 21 World Champion

MAKSYM-UM POTENTIAL

Poland’s never ending pool of talent was evident again as it took the top two positions in the 2017 FIM Under 21 Speedway World Championship when the last round was completed in Pardubice in September. Raced over three rounds this competition provided some excellent racing from some of the best young riders around, with Maksym Drabik coming out on top of the pile ahead of compatriot Bartosz Smektala and last year's champion Max Fricke of Australia.

Drabik led the field throughout and entered the final round with a one-point cushion at the top of the table. Despite having suffered a serious shoulder injury in the Güstrow round, he maintained his advantage with a steady performance as his rivals gradually fell away and secured his championship crown with victory in the second semi-final. It was a fitting season’s end for a rider whose 2016 campaign had been ruined by a broken leg. Drabik is the son of former Polish champion and international rider Slawomir Drabik and has clearly inherited his father’s talent on the track.

Smektala took the silver medal after faltering in the qualifying races and only a battling last-to-first effort in his final qualifying race salvaged his chances, giving him just enough points to steal second place in the series from Fricke. The Aussie had himself made a gallant return from serious mid-season injury and fully deserved the consolation of a bronze medal after qualifying for the final despite some motor problems. 

PALMARES
World title – 2017