King’s Lynn Stars Latvian Andzejs Lebedevs to do battle at Speedway World Cup Event One in Poland
- Credit: Matthew Usher
King's Lynn's Andzejs Lebedevs will be hoping to shine on the biggest stage tonight when the annual Speedway World Cup gets underway in Poland.
The 18-year-old, who missed the Stars trip to Peterborough Panthers last night, will be part of Latvia's four-man team as they look to battle it out with Russia to grab a slot in Thursday's race-off for another chance at reaching next week's final.
It would be one of the biggest shocks in the sport's history if they finished second – let alone first – with Australia and the hosts gunning for automatic qualification for the July 20 showcase.
A win at Czestochowa this evening would be enough for one country to seal their place in the final at Prague's Marketa Stadium alongside the Czech Republic. And it looks likely that Poland will grab that slot – if they perform comes tapes up.
Grand Prix riders Tomasz Gollob, Jarek Hampel and Krzysztof Kasprazak are joined by former Stars ace and world under-21 champion Maciej Janowski to complete a powerful quartet.
Last year's runners-up from Down Under appear to be significantly less stronger than they usually would be with world champion Chris Holder being forced to withdraw from the meeting through injury.
His place has been taken by experienced rider Davey Watt leaving much pressure on the shoulders of one half of the Turbo Twins – former Lynn ace Darcy Ward – to perform more of his usual heroics.
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Russia, who finished third in 2012, could struggle without their big-hitter Emil Sayfutdinov. The currently World Championship leader misses out with a broken metatarsal. And to make matters worse, experienced brothers Artem and Grigorii Laguta have withdrawn leaving the bronze medallists to track Valdimir Borodulin and Ilya Chalov instead.
The first 'semi-final' clash comes just two days before Great Britain, USA, Denmark and Sweden do battle in Event Two at Lynn's Norfolk Arena. The four teams who finish second and third in both events clash in Prague on July 18 for the fourth and final place in the decider.
Teams: Russia (red helmet): 1 Viktor Kulakov, 2 Valdimir Borodulin, 3 Ilya Chalov, 4 Andrey Kudryashov (captain). Australia (blue): 1 Davey Watt, 2 Jason Doyle, 3 Troy Batchelor (c), 4 Darcy Ward. Latvia (white) 1 Kasts Puodzuks (c), 2 Maksims Bogdanovs, 3 Vjaceslavs Giruckis, 4 Andzejs Lebedevs. Poland (yellow): 1 Tomasz Gollob (c), 2 Jarek Hampel, 3 Krzysztof Kasprzak, 4 Maciej Janowski