Before this year’s European Individual Ice Speedway Championship at the track in Sanok, we talk to the representative of our country, Michał Knapp, who will compete in the best competitors of the Old Continent for the fourth time in a row.
Michał, how are you preparing for this start – just over two weeks before the tournament?
To be honest, I’m disappointed after the recent World Cup qualifiers because I did very badly. There was definitely no training to get to know the track, and there was certainly no way to adjust the equipment to it. It didn’t go well, but now you have to change your attitude, forget about the tournament in Sweden and approach the championships in Sanok with a cool head and optimism.
Since you returned to the ice tracks, you have been improving your position in the European Individual Championships year after year. You were eleventh last season. Is now the time for the top ten?
I would like to score as many points as possible. I’m not going to these competitions just to participate, because that’s not what it’s about. This year’s field will be really crowded, but my goal is – as you mentioned – top ten and further progress. How would you characterize the track in Sanok? What makes it stand out among other facilities? Certainly, the track in Sanok, compared to the track in Örnsköldsvik, is faster. It has tighter curves, but longer straights make it possible to accelerate the motorcycle more here. The track in Sweden didn’t suit me at all, but the track in Sanok suits me much better, because you can effectively fight at a distance.
Let’s talk about money. In the classic version of speedway, the costs associated with equipment has even doubled compared to the previous year. Is it similar in ice speedway?
Of course. We are dealing with an increase in prices as in the case of classic speedway. Recently, I bought the necessary parts to repair my engines, accessories and components, and the price almost knocked me out of my shoes. For example, a King muffler last year cost PLN 860, and now it costs PLN 1,200. So the growth is colossal.
The question arises, then, what budget should a competitor who wants to professionally “play” in ice speedway have at his disposal?
I guess you don’t make a lot of money in this sport. There is virtually no income and the budgets needed by the players are high. I think that you can easily spend PLN 50,000 on the preparation of the equipment, and it may still not be enough. It’s hard to think about racing without sponsors. Fortunately, I can count on them, although obtaining them is much more difficult than in the classic version of slag. I also have great help from the Polish Motor Association and the promoter of the competition – SpeedwayEvents.pl.
In 2014, you decided to end a career that hadn’t really started yet. Did you imagine then that in six years you would be back on the ice?
Many people are aware of the events that took place in 2014. The death of my uncle Grzegorz caused the spirit of sport and competition to burn out in me. In addition, people from my immediate surroundings advised me not to continue driving. My career was over before it even began. I decided to try again after six years. I was encouraged by local sponsors and people from the environment. It happens differently, the fans can be dissatisfied, sometimes even mocking, but I still have the will to fight, to race and I want to be better at it.
Interviewed by JAKUB MRÓZ