Blogs & Opinion

Charlie Webster:

Poles apart

Charlie reflects on the second event in the GP series

Charlie Webster Posted 30th April 2012 view comments

From the rain in England to the sunshine in Poland - the weather set the tone for a great weekend of Speedway for the second round of the Grand Prix series.

Within an hour of landing I'd put my trainers on and was out running around the sites of Poznan, about an hour from the track in Lezno.

Our hotel was pretty interesting too, an old army barracks; amazing inside although we thought it was haunted!

If you have never been to Speedway in Poland it is definitely worth a trip. The atmosphere is always electric. The fans are so vocal, in Lezno chants of "Jaroslaw Hampel" echo around the stadium with a sea of Polish flags. Every time there is an overtake the crowd roars.

Also the Polish sausage is definitely an experience even if just the once.

The League meetings in Poland average an attendance of 17,500. Myself and Troy Batchelor had a conversation on the plane about the difference between the Leagues on the continent and in the UK.

A lot of riders, including Batchelor, have spoken about how crowd support does make a real difference to them as riders.

There were plenty of non-GP riders out in support including Darcy Ward, Davey Watt, Cameron Woodward and Batchelor. Speaking to the riders beforehand they all seemed really up for it, the track looked just right and the sun was out in force.

It was a big test for many; Greg Hancock to maintain his incredible form; Jaroslaw Hampel and Tomasz Gollob to please the mainly Polish crowd (although there was a good amount of Brits); Hans Andersen to show what his return means; and Chris Harris to prove his place is deserved.

What happened to both Andersen and Harris seemed not entirely deserved. Harris packed up twice and had a constant battle with his bike throughout the night. Andersen had much the same nightmare, more because of his lack of pace.

Harris seems to be very much all or nothing. He's traditionally a slow starter to the GP season but something somewhere needs to click. We have all seen he's got it in him.

I definitely believe he has. I still think that as well as his bikes, of course, a lot of it is down to his mind. Speaking to Greg Hancock about confidence, he said that it's 'everything.' As a competitive sportsperson and in my job presenting live TV I emulate that.


Confidence is one thing that Chris Holder definitely isn't short of though. After a last-place finish in his first heat, rather than looking to his set-up he said it was about gating, that all important first corner and the way he had to ride the track.

The GP winner very quickly adjusted that and firmly made sure of a semi-final place. There may have been a Polish crowd routing for Hampel but I have to say the majority of the pits were cheering for Holder to take the win.

Whilst Holder's crew jumped on him, literally, Watt and Ward were well and truly in on the action and Hancock was actually the first to run to congratulate him.

However, there was the complete opposite further into the pits.

Gollob went straight for Hampel's pit where I was stood and it seemed like he was going to charge right at him. Surely Hampel should have been the one not impressed with Gollob?

After a few handbags at dawn it was all sorted. In Hampel and Gollob you couldn't get two more polar opposite temperaments. I know Hampel rides for Lezno but it's the first time I've ever heard a Polish crowd boo the normally popular Pole.

Maybe all the aggro and hyped actions had something to do with the massive cans of Monster that were on free tap for the pits.

I think if I'd drunk even a can I would have jumped on a bike myself!

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