Matej Zagar took full advantage of championship leader Krzysztof Kasprzak not taking part in the Finnish FIM Speedway Grand Prix as the Slovenian star claimed his first World Championship victory in his 44th race.
Britain’s Tai Woffinden had lead the race but briefly lost control in the final, leaving Zagar chance to dive past and take the win, Sweden’s Freddie Lindgren took third place ahead of American Greg Hancock.
Heading in to the race weekend Zagar and Australian rookie Troy Batchelor were the only two riders of the field not to have won a round.
He said: “It doesn’t just mean a lot to me. My family at home are going crazy at the moment! I hope I gave them the satisfaction they didn’t have for three years I raced in the Grand Prix without winning one and it’s a big thing for me as well.
“It took me a while to win a Grand Prix and maybe a bit longer than everyone else. But I’ve done it and I want to say a big thank you to my team. They’ve done a great job and have showed a lot of patience with me, and so have my family and my sponsors. They’ve always believed and kept me going.
“This is a positive thing for my confidence and it will push me forward. Last year I was in four finals and finished second three times. I should have won a round last year, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“I made mistakes and other people got the win, but this time I played a different role and I got the win. It’s nice to win my first one. I hope it won’t be the last.”
Despite 15 points for the win Zagar is tenth place in the World Championship standings after the Finnish Grand Prix. Kasprzak continues to lead the championship despite missing the race weekend. with a cruciate ligament injury.
Although he didn’t take the win Woffinden walked away from the weekend with 16 points after a poor start to the season as he looks to regain his 2013 championship winning form.
“Turning things around comes from hard work and dedication. If you put the work in, you get rewarded for it.” said Woffenden.
“It has been a tough start to the season for me, but since Bydgoszcz, I’ve been working so hard with everybody involved in my team. My points have started coming and I have been scoring well in my league racing. Things are really picking up now and I came to Tampere with a lot of confidence after scoring paid 14 in Poland and paid 10 in Sweden.
“Things are starting to work in my favour now, but that doesn’t mean there’s any time to slacken off. I’ve got to be pushing harder to get into that top three.”
Third-placed Lindgren was happy with his second final of the year and admits it has helped by a reducing his schedule for 2014 after opting out of the British Elite League this year.
“What I can say is not riding so many meetings has helped me motivation-wise.” said Lindgren. “I enjoy coming to the speedway track and riding and it’s really good.
“The last GP in Bydgoszcz wasn’t great for me, so it was really good to come back and get a good result. I have to give it up to my mechanics. They came up with some really good advice after I ran a last in heat 10. It really made a big difference and I’m pleased with that.”
Finnish Speedway Grand Prix Scores
FIM Speedway Championship Points