"One of the best moments of the career" - interview with Jerzy Szczakiel, Pair World Champion from 1971

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Polish pair Jerzy Szczakiel - Andrzej Wyglenda won for Poland their first and only Pair World Cup. It happened in 1971 on the track in Rybnik. We encourage you to read the conversation with the champion, who's talking about this succes and this year's Eurosport Speedway Best Pairs tournament.

Jakub Pieczatowski: Do you remember 1971, pairs world cup in Rybnik and great riding with Andrzej Wyglenda?
Jerzy Szczakiel: Of course. Like it was yesterday. Afternoon, 11th July 1971. Great atmosphere. I must admit that I didn't want to ride in this competition in the beginning, because I was afraid that I won't be selected, that the partner of Andrzej Wyględa will be Antoni Woryna. I wasn't sure that I will get a chance, and there weren't reserve riders that time. I started and it was one of the best moments of my career.

It's fantastic effort to win every single race, after that time only Americans made it in 1982. How is it done?
The most importand thing is that we were perfectly prepaired and had motorcycles matched to the track. Both of us knew what to do. I started from the outside poles every race, so you can say - from the worse poles. But I had perfect tactics for this kind of riding. I remember when in the race with New Zealanders Barry Briggs and Ivan Mauger I risked and at the beginning of the race riding very widely, I based my rear wheel on a safety net. All of this for getting the best speed. I won with them because of this. Today, I can't believe that I could've rided like that. It seems that we were lucky.

Both of you were representing different polish clubs, so how did you work for good understanding on the track?
I was 10 years younger than Andrzej Wyglenda, but it wasn't hard to cooperate. Beside of that I felt very good in Rybnik that day. In the Gold Helmet tournament I gathered 13 points, then in the league match 14 points. I enjoyed riding there and I must admit that I was better on that track even than the hosts. And because of that I was selected to Best Pairs World Cup, not two riders from ROW. Although, as I have already mentioned, I wasn't sure till the end that I will have this honour. I was very young and the best riders in Rybnik were Wyglenda and Woryna. As we can see, it was very good move.

Do you remember who caused you the most problems, in this great pairs final?
It was the race that I mentioned before - fight with Maugerem and Briggs. We were riding elbow to elbow. Then I risked and escaped from the two of New Zealanders. It was tough with swedish pair too - Anders Michanek and Bernt Persson. I remeber that we were fighting behind Wyglenda's back. There were a moments when I was third, but finally I made it to the end at the second place and we won this race by double win.

Why couldn't polish pair repeated this effort from that time?
I don't know, there was always a part that was missing to the full succes. In 1975 Edek Jancarz and Piotrek Bruzda were close, but they finally won a silver medal. We had many good riders that had a chance to repeat our succes. But in speedway, beside good riding and good motorcycles you must have luck. They didn't have it as it seems.

Best national pairs competition are getting back to the speedway calendar. Do you think that's a good idea?
Very good idea. Pair rivalisation is very exciting. I was in Bydgoszcz on Grand Prix and I met there Barry Briggs. When he saw me, he smiled and said - Rybnik '71. And then we were talking about that tournament, and he said that he still don't know how I rided that first bow in the race with them. He and Mauger - it was the best pair of the world and we defeated them. Because of that fantastic memories, I am very happy that international pair competition is back.

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