Bartosz Zmarzlik admitted he was concerned ahead of the first race of the Speedway Grand Prix in Gorican, Croatia.
The two-time former world champion went on to claim victory in the final, ahead of Maciej Janowski, Mikkel Michelsen and Anders Thomsen, having earlier posting the fastest time in qualifying and winning three of his heats.
However, the Polish rider admitted he had reservations about the race beforehand.
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“I am very happy because I have never won the first round,” he said afterwards.
“I am feeling nice, but a little bit tired because on Friday I had a meeting and I was feeling a little bit up and down.
“After the first few races, I didn’t have a very good feeling on the bike on this track. But after four races, I felt much better with setups and I felt much better on the bike. I am very happy I won.”
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Zmarzlik was racing for his PGE Ekstraliga club Gorzow just 24 hours before in Grudziadz and expected to struggle on the track at the Stadion Milenium Donji Kraljevec, but was ultimately pleased he was able to adjust accordingly.
“After my last meeting on Friday, I came here and did a few practice laps,” he added.
“For me, it is a very small track and I didn’t have a very good feeling in the corners – it’s too small for me. But after more racing, I liked the track more.”
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Zmarzlik won the title in 2019 and 2020 but missed out on a third title by just three points in 2021.
This year, the 27-year-old has been installed as the championship favourite once more but after a blistering start to the campaign, Zmarzlik says he is focused on enjoying his racing rather than his title prospects.
“I really don’t look at this because I love my job, my speedway. In my life, there is only family and speedway and that’s it.
“Of course, winning is important. But it’s not good for my head just to focus on that.”
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The 2022 Speedway Grand Prix will be available live and ad-free on discovery+ with live race action also on Eurosport 2.
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