Just a few days after the final round of SEC, Timo Lahti will be 29 years old. And he’s hoping to celebrate his birthday confirmed as one of the best riders in Europe.
Last year he had two podium finishes, a second place at his home track in Poland, Gniezno, and a third place in the last meeting in Torun.
“But in 2020 I had a nightmare in Rybnik where I only scored two points,” he reminds us, “That cost me direct qualification to SEC as I finished only two points from a top five place. So, I know if I perform the best I could, I will be in the Top 5 in 2021”, he says with a focused tone in his voice. He summarises, “I am hoping to be consistent, without any off-nights”.
“Consistent” is a word that crops up a lot in our interview, showing that the Finnish rider knows that you cannot win a competition like the European Championships without ongoing excellence that shows itself night after night.
But it also is reflected in his choice of clubs for 2021. He had a fantastic season in 2020 and has decided to stick with the same teams in Sweden and Poland for 2021. Consistency is the key.
In Sweden he raced for Hallstavik Rospiggarna, where he finished with a 2.086 average putting him in 14th place in the individual rankings. He scored almost exactly the same number of points in eWinner 1 with Start Gniezno. There he gained 2.050 putting him in 11th place overall. And if you want to talk about consistency, he also scored a similar figure, 2.111, in the same league in 2019.
This year, his points in Poland are a little bit lower with 1.815. But in Denmark he is flying high with Nordyjsk Elite Speedway, the new name for Brovst Speedway Club. He is currently the third best rider in the league behind two Danish winners of the SEC, Mikkel Michelsen and Nicki Pedersen.
It is strange to think that the Finnish rider nearly did not make it at all to this year’s SEC finals.
The 28-year-old took part in the SEC Challenge race in Pardubice where the top five finishers were guaranteed a place. But after 20 heats, the Finn and Danish rider, Patrick Hansen, were both on 10 points in equal 5th position. That meant a race off to decide who was going to qualify and who was going to have to stay at home for the European Championship. And it was Lahti who drew the short straw coming second in that race.
“To be honest, if I say I was disappointed that is not enough,” he says with frustration in his eyes, “I was leading the first run off when red lights came on. Then losing the re-run…. that was tough”. But then he goes on to tell the rest of the story, “Luckily, the organizers handed me the wild card,” he says breathing out with an understandable relief. Probably all speedway fans can see that it was the fair decision.
So now it is just a few days until the tournament starts. How does the Gniezno rider feel about the choice of venues this year?
“I have won few individual meetings in Gustrow and I really like that track. We just raced at Rybnik and I had a good meeting there too [Lahti top scored for his team with 13+1]. All tracks are familiar to me, like Gdansk and Bydgoszcz, who also race in eWinner 1 Liga,” says the satisfied Finn.
It has been a wild ride to get this far for Lahti, but he knows he has the skill to gain a Top 5 finish. Now we are just four fantastic nights of speedway away from seeing who will be crowned Speedway European Champion for 2021. Will there be a Finnish medal this year?
Speedway Euro Championship 2021 is a four-round series of competitions for the title of Individual European Champion. The riders will compete on the tracks in Bydgoszcz (12th June), Güstrow (26th June), Gdańsk (3rd July) and Rybnik (10th July). Tickets for the rounds to be held in Poland are available via www.bit.ly/SEC_Tickets_2021 and www.bilety.wybrzezegdansk.pl.
SEC 2021 lineup:
1. Robert Lambert (Great Britain)
2. Leon Madsen (Denmark)
3. Nicki Pedersen (Denmark)
4. Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark)
5. Bartosz Smektala (Poland)
6. Patryk Dudek (Poland)
7. Daniel Bewley (Great Britain)
8. Sergey Logachev (Russia)
9. Andzejs Lebedevs (Latvia)
10. Patrick Hansen (Denmark)
11. Timo Lahti (Finland)
12. Kai Huckenbeck (Germany)
13. Piotr Pawlicki (Poland)
14. David Bellego (France)
15. Vaclav Milik (Czech Republic)