Polish motorcycle racing is clearly looking up. After many years of almost total absence from the world stage, Poland now has not one but two racers active in World Championships, as well as a Polish-backed team. In the World Supersport class, the Bogdanka PTR team will be fielding Pawel Szkopek alongside veteran British rider James Ellison. And on Saturday, it was announced that Lukasz Wargala would be contesting the 2011 Moto2 championships, riding alongside Rafaelle de Rosa in the G22 team.
The signing of Wargala is something of a surprise. When Fonsi Nieto announced he would be retiring from racing, it was widely expected that his seat would go to Gabor Talmacsi, the Hungarian still being highly regarded in the paddock. Instead, adding a Polish rider to the grid appears to have been more important to Dorna, to help cement the TV deal with Polish broadcaster SportKlub. The deal will have been at least partially motivated by funding, as it was believed that the G22 squad was short of funds, which was one factor behind Nieto's retirement. The G22 team needed a rider who could help pay his way, and it seems likely that Wargala was better able to do that than Talmacsi.
Below is the press release from Wargala's management:
Lukasz Wargala and G22 join forces in Moto2
27-year-old Lukasz Wargala is set to make his 2011 Moto2 debut in the G22 Racing Team colours as the first Polish rider in the Grand Prix World Championship in almost 40 years.
After two seasons in the German IDM Superbike series, Lukasz Wargala, from Zielona Gora, will ride a Moriwaki championship winning machine alongside Italian Raffaele De Rosa under the watchful eye of brothers Pablo and Gelete Nieto.
Poland and Spain meet again in the World Championship as the only Polish rider to have stood on the podium, Ryszard Mankiewicz at the Yugoslavian 125cc Grand Prix in 1969, is remembered very fondly by the 12+1 World Champion and father of the G22 Racing Team owners, Angel Nieto, with the pair racing against each other in the early '70s.
Wargala is currently having his first taste of the Moto2 action during a three day test at Valencia, followed by two more official outings at Estoril and Jerez de la Frontera. The new project will be officially unveiled during presentations in Warsaw and Madrid before the season starts at Qatar on the 20th of March.
Polish fans will be able to follow Lukasz Wargala's progress live during all free practice sessions, qualifying, warm-ups and all 17 Moto2 races on the SportKlub channel.
"I am very happy to be the first Polish rider in the Grand Prix World Championship in almost forty years. It is a great honour - and while I will do my best to make the Polish fans proud, it is also a great challenge and I am under no illusion of the task ahead. Moto2 and MotoGP are the highest levels of motorcycle racing and to do well, you must know the circuits and have a very good understanding of the bike. That is why I want to focus on learning during this season and I believe it won't be my last. Luckily with Pablo, Gelete and the whole G22 Racing Team I have a fantastic crew around me as well as a winning bike."
"We are a young team so it is important to have a young and upcoming rider like Lukasz Wargala, with whom we can grow together. Lukasz has a lot of potential but he must learn a lot and this is what we will be concentrating on this season. We won't be putting any pressure on him to get results and all we would like him to do is to learn. We know each other for a short time but I know he is a good person and he can do well in Moto2. It is also very important for the World Championship to have a first Polish rider in a long time. Ryszard Mankiewicz raced against my father some forty years ago and now Lukasz will race in Moto2 together with the sons of Angel Nieto. It's a great emotion for all of us."