Leigh Adams made the perfect start to his 2004 Speedway GP campaign when claiming the first of nine rounds at Stockholm's Olympic Stadium in Sweden on Saturday. Although the victory was only the third of his career, it puts the...
Leigh Adams made the perfect start to his 2004 Speedway GP campaign when claiming the first of nine rounds at Stockholm's Olympic Stadium in Sweden on Saturday.
Although the victory was only the third of his career, it puts the popular Australian in a good position to mount a serious assault on this year's world title.
Adams did not enjoy the best of starts when trailing in a disappointing third behind Tony Rickardsson and Jason Crump in his first heat. However, he never looked back from that point.
After winning two of his next three heats, Adams went into his semi-final full of confidence and it showed as he held off the challenge of Crump and Greg Hancock to progress to the decider.
Although Crump managed to hit the front at the first bend in the final, Adams cut back up the inside and took control on the back straight. Once in front, he pulled clear of the field to claim a comfortable victory and a valuable 25 points.
"There's still a long way to go, but I feel confident," said Adams. "I've just got to keep plugging away in each round and make sure that I make the final. If you do that, you'll be there at the end.
"I haven't really changed much this year, apart from my attitude. Everything seems to be working so good and I feel great on the bike at the moment. When you've got a happy environment around you, you're a happy rider."
Crump, who is a notoriously slow starter, will not be too disappointed with second place after some dismal early showings in previous years.
He found it hard at certain stages and only managed to qualify for the final by the width of tyre when coming from behind to snatch second from Hancock in his semi-final.
Crump commented: "It's a better start than last year! Leigh [Adams] is pretty classy at that cutback, so I was aware that he might try it. However I made such a good start that I thought I was clear, but he got inside me and that was it."
Five-times world champion Rickardsson rounded out the first three at his home GP. He was impressive in winning each of his three qualifying races, but he struggled to qualify from his semi and never really threatened Adams or Crump in the final.
Defending world champion Nicki Pedersen was another who looked good in the early stages of the GP, but he failed to maintain his challenge and he was eliminated behind Tomasz Gollob and Rickardsson at the semi-final stage.
"I felt that everything seemed to go against me," Pedersen said: "Everything went okay and the bike was running well, but I just didn't have any luck. I'm disappointed, but at least I made the semi-final stage."
Scott Nicholls was forced to withdraw from the event after a burn wound behind his knee became infected during practice. He was rushed back to hospital in England to have a skin graft, where surgeons then discovered a thrombosis in his left leg.
Leigh Adams (Australia) 25
Jason Crump (Australia) 20
Tony Rickardsson (Sweden) 18
Tomasz Gollob (Poland) 16
Nicki Pedersen (Denmark) 13
Greg Hancock (USA) 13
Lee Richardson (Great Britain) 11
Jesper Jensen (Denmark) 11
Mark Loram (Great Britain) 8
Bjarne Pedersen (Denmark) 8
Ryan Sullivan (Australia) 7
Bohumil Brhel (Czech Rep) 7
Rune Holta (Norway) 6
Mikael Max (Sweden) 6
Scott Nicholls (Great Britain) 5
Andreas Jonsson (Sweden) 5
Hans Andersen (Denmark) 4
Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden) 4
Lukas Dryml (Czech Rep) 3
Jaroslaw Hampel (Poland) 3
Piotr Protasiewicz (Poland) 2
Peter Ljung (Sweden) 2
Kaj Laukkanen (Finland) 1
Ales Dryml (Czech Rep) 1