The Tauron Speedway Euro Championship series will take place in the 2020 season on different rules than in previous years. Five finals instead of four, stadiums – hosts only in one country and all in just 25 days – are the basic differences from previous seasons. In these circumstances organizers managed to complete a quite interesting start list.
The leading riders of last year's competition: Mikkel Michelsen, Grigorij Laguta, Leon Madsen, Kacper Woryna and Bartosz Smektała were confident in participating in this year's fight for the Individual European Championship. In addition to them, based mainly on the results of the Tauron SEC from previous years and choosing names from different countries another ten were nominated: Andzejs Lebedevs, Nicki Pedersen, Václav Milík, Krzysztof Kasprzak, Michael Jepsen Jensen, Robert Lambert, Andrey Kudryashov, Kai Huckenbeck, David Bellego and Peter Ljung. At the start all these riders will aim for a victory in the series. Who has the best chances?
Of course, it is need to be pointed that in the 2020 season for the first time the best rider of the Tauron SEC finals will receive a prize and the place on start list for Individual World Championship 2021. As it turns out, this situation ... does not have to happen. The condition for this is to win the title of the best rider in Europe by the one who will also remain in SGP series for next year. Leon Madsen is in the stake of regular participants in this second series and looking at his performances from recent years he can certainly be called the main favorite of this year's fight for the title of European Champion. In a similar situation may be last year's winner of the Tauron SEC series – Mikkel Michelsen, if in the battle with the best riders in the world he will replace the injured Martin Smolinski (the German previously changed Greg Hancock, when he ended his career). For now, however we do not know how and when this year's Individual World Champion will be selected and what criteria the organizers will adopt in determining regular riders for next year. A place for this year's European champion is certainly an award worth fighting for. Both mentioned Danes are able to win in the series again and they were the ones who finished the competition at the top in 2018 and 2019.
The one who has never been a regular participant in the Speedway Grand Prix series and who, according to many voices, should perform there for years, is Grigorij Laguta. The Russian finished the competition in Tauron SEC on the podium in 2013 (bronze) and 2019 (silver). Especially in the second year he was very close to winning, giving way to Michelsen after the additional heat. A new impulse in the form of promotion to the SGP series may cause that this time he will manage to take the highest place on the podium. Among the favorites it is impossible not to put a veteran of speedway tracks, Nicki Pedersen, who is the oldest in the series. The Dane has been suffering from injuries in recent years, but if he avoided them, he always showed a high level. Perhaps he did not say the last word yet and he is a four time medalist of the Tauron SEC series, who has been on the podium since 2013, ending the competition with silver, bronze, silver and gold respectively.
Polish fans will certainly see opportunities for riders from their country. After the bronze medal in 2016, Krzysztof Kasprzak will compete for the victory and promotion to the Speedway Grand Prix. The individual world runner-up from 2014, who was not short of a gold medal at the time, still has something to prove and the perfect opportunity will come in the competition for the Individual European Championship. After a lot of bad luck and losing the battle for bronze medal in 2019, Kacper Woryna's sporting ambitions are certainly irritated. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that he will join the fight for the highest places too. The situation is similar with Bartosz Smektała, who will be the youngest participant in the Tauron SEC cycle. The year is the first for him as a senior rider, so the promotion to Speedway Grand Prix series through the Individual European Championships, would certainly be a dream come true for him.
Two riders from this year's list a few years ago fought with each other for the title of the best in Europe and those are Andzejs Lebedevs and Václav Milík. The first one won the Tauron SEC competition in 2017 and the second one entered the podium four and three years ago (silver and bronze). The Czech rider has repeatedly said that his dream is to compete with the best and fight in SGP. If he could show his full potential, then his victory in the series is not impossible. The last words have not yet been said by the next regular participants of the Speedway Grand Prix series in last years – Peter Ljung and Michael Jepsen Jensen. If one of them could win the fight for the Individual European Championship it would certainly be a surprise. Both have shown a solid level in recent league meeting in last years, so they can also try to win Tauron SEC series. Also, the chances of Robert Lambert, bronze medalist from the 2018 season, cannot be ruled out. The British rider would definitely like to make his fans happy and for him – as well as for Smektała – this year is the first in which he will appear as a senior.
The remaining from the regular participants are listed last as favorites for final success. If someone from the three Andrey Kudryashov – Kai Huckenbeck – David Belego managed to win the Tauron SEC series in 2020 it would be a great sensation. However, sport likes them and sometimes outsiders become “underdogs” who ended up winning, so the competition can always be more interesting. Will the Individual European Championship 2020 and a certain promotion to the Speedway Grand Prix 2021 go to the favorite or will we see any surprise? The answer to this question will be known on 29th of July at Torun’s Motoarena.