Pedersen triumphs as Crump loses world championship lead to Rickardsson The surname Pedersen returned to the sharp end of the Speedway World Championship field at round three in Poland on May 29 -- but it wasn't reigning world champion ...
Pedersen triumphs as Crump loses world championship lead to Rickardsson
The surname Pedersen returned to the sharp end of the Speedway World Championship field at round three in Poland on May 29 -- but it wasn't reigning world champion Nicki.
Instead, 25-year-old Bjarne Pedersen broke through for his maiden GP victory at the Olympic Stadium in Wroclaw, in the process becoming the 14th different winner since the world championship went multi-round in 1995. It all came in the Danish rider's 13th GP, with his previous best finish a third in the 2003 Norwegian GP.
In the four-lap final at Wroclaw - without Aussie representation for the first time this year - Pedersen defeated 2003 world junior speedway champion Jaroslaw Wroclaw, with Sweden's Tony Rickardsson third from veteran Piotr Protasiewicz. It was the culmination of an exhausting night for Pedersen, who kicked off proceedings in heat one, followed by five more outings en route to round three glory. He said: "It was a fantastic night for me but it hasn't really sunk in yet. It was very tough, riding in the first heat and still being there at the end."
Pedersen jumped from outside the championship top 10 into fifth after his victory, and sits on 37pts. Ahead of him are new world championship leader Rickardsson (54pts); Aussies Jason Crump (53) and Leigh Adams (49); and Hampel (43).
Rickardsson, seeking to join the legendary New Zealander Ivan Mauger on a record-equalling six world titles, is the only rider to have made all three finals in 2004, and has finished third in all of them. Meanwhile, Hampel's runner-up finish in Poland was his second in succession -- all in just his eighth GP and first year of full-time world championship competition.
In front of 20,000 spectators, Sullivan and Adams were the best performed Australians in Poland, before being eliminated in separate semi-finals. Prior to the eliminations, their paths were completely in sync -- a second, third and fourth in the preliminary heats. Sullivan was bested by Protasiewicz, Bjarne Pedersen and wildcard Grzegorz Walasek in his semi-final, before Adams met his match behind Hampel, Rickardsson and Nicki Pedersen just minutes later.
Sullivan, who finished fourth in round two, now sits in equal seventh alongside Nicki Pedersen on 34pts.
As for Crump, the reigning world number two's run of nine consecutive semi-final appearances was broken after he finished third in heat 21 behind Protasiewicz and Adams, with only the top two progressing to the semi-finals. He finished equal ninth on 8pts alongside 1997 world champion, American Greg Hancock.
The last time Crump finished outside the top eight was when he was 15th in the May-run 2003 Swedish GP.
"I wasn't really happy with my bikes, and it just didn't happen for me tonight," said Crump, who won his ninth GP in round two. "That's (a bad result) always going to be the case during the course of a season -- still I'd rather have a bad one now than at the business end of a championship.
"It was a weird night. Guys who had their set-up just right were able to get away from any of the gates and perform well, but those that didn't struggled."
Round four of the Speedway World Championship will be held at the showpiece Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (UK) on June 12.
<pre> Round three results 1 Bjarne Pedersen Denmark 25pts 2 Jaroslaw Hampel Poland 20 3 Tony Rickardsson Sweden 18 4 Piotr Protasiewicz Poland 16 5 Nicki Pedersen Denmark 13 5 Grzegorz Walasek Poland 13 7 Leigh Adams Australia 11 7 Ryan Sullivan Australia 11 9 Jason Crump Australia 8 9 Greg Hancock America 8
Current standings (after three of nine rounds): 1 Rickardsson 54 2 Crump 53 3 Adams 49 4 Hampel 43 5 Bjarne Pedersen 37 6 Tomasz Gollob 36 7 Nicki Pedersen 34 7 Sullivan 34 9 Hancock 32 10 Lee Richardson 27
For full results and standings, visit www.speedwayworld.tv