The best highway circus in the world, or an embarrassment in an Ekstraliga match

The best motorcycle league in the world. Our team PGE Ekstraliga would love to be proud of this logo. Considering the names of the bikers included in it, as well as the clubs’ budgets – which are certainly the highest in the world – it is difficult to disagree with this opinion. However, if there is a circus in the best league in the world like yesterday during the match between Stal Gorzów Wielkopolski and ZOOleszcz GKM Grudziądz, we feel sorry for this discipline. what is he talking about? Yesterday there was rain in Gorzów, but after working on the track, judge Michał Sasień decided that the track was suitable for driving. The management of the two teams did not share the referee’s opinion, and the players refused to drive. Perhaps the two teams were counting on Sassen to announce the postponement of the competition, but the referee decided to consider the match a picnic for both teams!

Circus Gorzio

18:00 – This was the original start time for the match between Stal Gorzów and GKM Grudziądz. Let us add that the meeting included the second attempt. The match was originally scheduled to be held on May 19, but rain prevented it from taking place. Interestingly, the Gorzów team – like every Ekstraliga club – has special tarpaulins on the field to protect the track from the rain. But then… they didn’t spread!

Yesterday conditions were difficult again. It was raining in Gorzów in the afternoon. But this time, the organizers decided, based on their experience, to protect the surface from absorbing too much water. And so from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, wait for things to calm down in the sky. When this happened, it turned out that the tarpaulin was not doing its job over the entire surface of the track! Especially with chalk, the surface was very grippy and sticky – competitors used to call such a track plastic.

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However, work on arranging the oval was still ongoing. Finally, at 9:00pm – three hours after the original start of the match – the home players left to test the track. Motorcyclists from Grudziądz refused to participate in checking the condition of the roof.

-The path is a bit demanding. I rode well, but I don’t know how it would be with four people, because I was riding alone. There are places where it’s hard and suddenly it’s hard. The sidewalk is “plasticine”. However, I think it was a good trip, the bike didn’t stop me – Jakub Miskowiak, who participated in the pilot test, evaluated the condition of the road surface.

In turn, Simon Wozniak offered a slightly sharper analysis: – You might think that we were traveling smoothly with Cuba, but in fact we were avoiding this critical point [krawężnik na pierwszym łuku – dop. red]Because…we had to avoid that. We traveled from the approach, not from the beginning. In the case where we start with four people in front of the line, the player in first place may have big problems in forming the arc.

After three hours of watching the questionable fun of maintenance work on the track, a few fans sat in the stadium. The few who decided to stay were “rewarded”… by hearing first hand about one of the most bizarre decisions made in motorcycle racing over the past decade. A few minutes before 10 p.m., Judge Michel Sassine stood before the cameras of Canal+, which was broadcasting the meeting, and announced what had happened:

– As we know, the Grudziądz team did not even participate in the track test. Here we were banned from driving even before the test, which was an unusual test, so to speak. After the test, I spoke with the team leaders, and I also spoke with Szymek Wozniak, who participated in the test and who confirmed that the track is generally difficult, although he did not have any problems driving. Jakub Miskowiak also confirmed this. Then 10-15 minutes passed, after which it became clear that both teams unanimously began to claim that the track was dangerous and that they refused – with an emphasis on refusal – to drive in today’s match. I therefore requested data on this topic in writing. Therefore, a decision is made on mutual wandering. This is the decision. In my opinion and in the opinion of the track commissioner, the track is difficult, but within the regulations – Sassine explained.

Michał Sasień during a conversation with Łukasz Benz. Newspeaks photo

Settlement between players and the league

So, after nearly four hours of consideration, the arbitrator made a decision that perhaps no one expected. A decision that is a disgrace to the entire Premier League. After all, these games have serious sponsors. They are broadcast by big stations like Canal+ or Eleven. How would a future TV company want to invest in a product that is almost certain not to be delivered in practice? Because the match was not postponed. It happened. It ended in a 0-0 draw. Football score at a Speedway match, they haven’t played that yet.

By extending the decision on the final score of the match, the organizers also showed a complete lack of respect for the fans. Those who saw this “scene” on TV (a great advertisement for a black sport, the TV is certainly happy!) And especially the fans who came to the Eduard Jancarz Stadium.

The Ekstraliga was also disgraced by this unfortunate tarpaulin. The league authorities announced the clubs’ commitment to obtaining it two years ago. The cost of the tarpaulin itself ranged between PLN 200,000 and PLN 300,000, depending on the size of the track. In addition, there was the cost of creating a proper drainage system so that water flowing under the track cover could drain. This costs several times more than the blankets that protect the track. As it turns out, the money was down the drain. Literally, because competitors claimed that it was impossible to ride on such mud.

And here we come to the personalities of the riders themselves. In our opinion, although the decision on mutual concession taken by Sasień is very controversial, we consider it correct. In recent years, Polish track competitors have increasingly had a say in how the competition is held. If we are to believe the referee of yesterday’s competition, they ultimately decided not to leave. But was the condition of the track so bad that it would not be possible to play the late game on it? You can judge it for yourself in the pictures below.

Jakub Miskowiak testing the Gurzuf track. Newspeaks photo

There was also the famous professional test of driving a screwdriver into a surface.

This is not the first case in which competitors refuse to participate in a sporting event for their safety. MotoGP racers used the same argument last year when, during the third round of the Polish Individual Championship in Krosno, they also stated that the track was not suitable for riding. This was also the case during the 2019 “Golden Helmet” in Pella. The two examples above relate directly to objections to the track setting itself. If we were to add situations where competitors don’t want to ride due to weather, the list would be much longer.

However, so far, in each of these cases, after a tug of war called “to go or not to go”, it has been decided to move the competition to another date. And so – colloquially – the tail began wagging the dog. Can you imagine a situation in football where players refuse to play because of the condition of the field? This decision always rests with the arbitrator. Of course, the referee consults with the teams, but when he says, “Let’s play,” he closes the matter.

It’s different in the Ekstraliga. When the teams decided not to skate, the judges, even if they considered the track suitable for the competition, did not decide to hold a rotation. They did not want to expose themselves to public opinion. Because TV requires a match. Since both teams have incurred costs, neither will get points in the table – so the draw is only symbolic. And finally, because the fans came to the stadium. Perhaps that is why the players and team staff did not expect such a drastic reaction from the referee. Meanwhile, Judge Sassen ordered the team managers to sign an acknowledgment of the clubs’ refusal to drive. And when they did that to you, he announced his withdrawal!

With this move, Michel Sassine completely destroyed them. He made the players responsible for the match that was not played. Naturally, Stal Gurzuf is trying to defend himself in the face of such developments. The Gorzów Radio website published a photo of the statement written by team manager Krzysztof Orzel. We read in it:- In my team’s opinion, after testing the track, competitors described the track as difficult to compete on in a four-person team.

Let’s not forget that this so-called official letter looks like a fake expulsion from the classroom, written by his older sister to an elementary school student. However, the Gorzów residents’ line of defense is that Orzeł only signed an opinion, not a refusal to drive. Which is strange. Since competitors described the track as difficult to compete in a group of four, how did they want to go about the competition? By doing twenty rounds in three rounds instead of fifteen with the full team? Or maybe bikers were supposed to pull matches before each race? The one with the shortest must stay in the fleet. This concept would fit in with yesterday’s circus.

Ekstraklasa and television probably will not leave this without consequences. According to Interia Sport, players from both teams may be suspended after the match. There is also a lot of talk about financial penalties. In contrast, experts and fans are starting to grow weary of motorcyclists who only want to ride in ideal conditions. Before you say that it is easy for us to express such opinions, because in the end, it is not us, but them who are risking their health and lives: well, they are the ones who are risking it. The problem is that such situations only happen in Poland. This is the country where the highway is undoubtedly the most popular compared to other countries. The players themselves make the best money here.

Then they go to Great Britain, Sweden or Denmark. They race there for a fraction of the amount they earn in Poland. Usually with facilities incomparably worse than in Poland. And above all, on paths that resemble potato fields. But the strange thing is that no one complains about the difficulty of the surface there. Here is an example – a video summary from the Belle Vue Aces – Sheffield Speedway match. This track can be used for mud wrestling. After each race, the competitors’ Kevlar was made so that the bikers could camouflage themselves in front of the predator. It was raining there before the match. Furthermore, heavy rain fell on the field during the match. Then Ty Wovenden – a three-time world champion – flew in with a shovel to clean the surface. In such circumstances, we were able to complete 10 rounds so that the match was considered a success.

A day later, Jaimon Lidsey – a participant in the aforementioned match – comes to Gorzów in the colors of Grudziądz and did not go to the test track, agreeing with the opinion that the surface is too dangerous. Just like Jason Doyle or Max Frick, who spend their whole lives on the islands. It is not about questioning these players specifically. The problem concerns the entire highway community. Including, of course, the Poles.

For this reason, it is not surprising that fans are upset. Yes, the organizers could have respected their time and announced the cancellation of the competition much earlier. But when we see how in other countries motorcyclists can ride in potato fields, while in Poland the same people are upset by just a fragment of a more attractive surface, fans come to the conclusion that competitors are using double standards. And we have that impression too.

foot. Newspeaks

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