Rickardsson prevails from Adams and Crump Swedish master Tony Rickardsson launched his bid for a sixth FIM Speedway World Championship in sublime fashion last Saturday night, leading home Aussie duo Leigh Adams and Jason Crump in a...
Rickardsson prevails from Adams and Crump
Swedish master Tony Rickardsson launched his bid for a sixth FIM Speedway World Championship in sublime fashion last Saturday night, leading home Aussie duo Leigh Adams and Jason Crump in a star-studded final.
Thirty-four-year-old Rickardsson, who was initially in doubt for the opener with a back injury, was at his belligerent best, storming to a perfect seven wins from as many outings around the iconic Olympic Stadium in Wroclaw. Rickardsson's merciless display came to a blazing finish in the 'Big Final', where he was untroubled in claiming an all-the-way win from gate three.
"I am so pleased to have got through the meeting. I was very worried before the start but it is tough having seven rides," said Rickardsson. I would not have wanted an eighth!"
The victory was Rickardsson's 15th since the world championship adopted a multi-round format in 1995, and the third time he has won successive GPs after dominating last year's final round in Norway. He will now set out to become the first rider to win three successive GPs in front of his adoring home crowd on May 14.
Rickardsson now sits on 25pts after the win, ahead of Adams (20), Crump (18) and the unheralded Antonio Lindback (16), who made the Big Final in only his second-ever grand prix.
While Rickardsson enjoyed a nerveless night's work, the same cannot be said for reigning No. 4 Adams, who only clinched a place in the Big Final after passing young Polish star Jaroslaw Hampel on the last corner of their semi-final.
"It was a tough night and it is back to the drawing board as far as my gating is concerned," Adams said. "But I do prefer the new system and we got out of jail by getting to the final so I have to be pleased with second place."
The new structure which Adams alluded to now has all 16 riders racing five times in the preliminaries (heats 1-20), which entails meeting every other competitor at least once.
Crump was one rider who found an instant rapport with the new system, and he put together 11pts in the heats, including a bank of three victories. The reigning world champion then defeated Lindback in his semi-final before a third in the finale -- his 31st appearance in a Big Final.
The 29-year-od proclaimed himself happy with the start of his world championship defence, although he felt he wasn't at the top of his game.
"Rickardsson was exceptional tonight," said Crump. "His riding was superb. He was probably at 110 percent whereas I was at about 80. I was very poor off the starts, plus this has never been my favourite track. It was my worst result last year so I'm very happy to finish third.
"Getting on the podium was a big bonus. If I had won it wouldn't have been right. It's given me something to build on as you don't win a championship in the first GP."
The third Australian in the 16-rider field, Ryan Sullivan, just missed out on a spot in the semi-finals after scoring 7pts from his five heats, but he is not too far away from recapturing the form that saw him finish third in the 2002 world title.
Meanwhile, Polish star Tomasz Gollob, a nine-time GP winner, also failed to progress past heat 20 after a listless display, while last year's Wroclaw winner, Bjarne Pedersen, could only manage a miserable 4pts from his quota of preliminary races.
Round two (of nine) of the 2005 FIM Speedway World Championship will be held at Eskilstuna in Sweden on May 14. For more information, visit www.speedwayworld.tv
<pre> ROUND ONE RESULT Pos Rider Country Race Points 1 Tony Rickardsson Sweden 25 2 Leigh Adams Australia 20 3 Jason Crump Australia 18 4 Antonio Lindback Sweden 16 5 Greg Hancock America 11 6 Jaroslaw Hampel Poland 10 Nicki Pedersen Denmark 10 8 Andreas Jonsson Sweden 8 9 Ryan Sullivan Australia 7 10 Tomasz Gollob Poland 6