Jason Crump has never enjoyed the best of starts to his previous Speedway GP campaigns, but he sits proudly at the top of the standings after winning round two at the Marketa Stadium in Prague. The meeting was delayed for almost two hours due...
Jason Crump has never enjoyed the best of starts to his previous Speedway GP campaigns, but he sits proudly at the top of the standings after winning round two at the Marketa Stadium in Prague.
The meeting was delayed for almost two hours due to a heavy downpour and, initially, the wet surface seemed to bother Crump. He struggled with the conditions in the early stages and he had to battle hard just to reach the semi-finals.
Despite his slow start, the popular Australian improved as the meeting progressed and, after dominating his semi-final, he went into the decider full of confidence.
Although he hit the first bend front, he was under constant pressure from Polish youngster Jaroslaw Hampel and the pair battled for the lead on the first lap. However, Crump began to establish a narrow advantage and he eventually pulled clear to claim a valuable 25 points. Tony Rickardsson took third, while Ryan Sullivan finished a distant fourth.
"It feels great to win," said a delighted Crump. "I've never enjoyed any success in the rain before, so this is a big victory for me. The weather was a problem, but I really love this track and I soon got used to the conditions. The champagne is going to taste great tonight.
"I really want to thank Peter Johns and my dad [Phil] for helping me prepare my engine and it worked great. I've led the standings in the past, but never this early in the season. I just need to try and stay there now!"
Hampel's performance was the biggest surprise of the night. The former under 21 World Champion had never made much of an impact at the highest level, but he silenced his critics with some tenacious riding.
"I really enjoyed it out there," said Hampel. "The track was difficult at the start, but I got better and better as the meeting progressed. I'm absolutely delighted with second place and I really want to try and push my career forward now.
"The next round is at my home track in Poland, so I am looking forward to that. I feel that I can compete at the highest level and hopefully I can go one better next time out."
Rickardsson looked almost unbeatable at the start of the event, but he was handed a tough gate three draw in the final and had to settle for third. Nevertheless, he remains near the top of the standings and was pleased with his overall effort.
"I'm really happy with third," said Rickardsson. "I'm not normally that good in the wet, so to finish in a good position is almost like a win. The weather caused me a few problems, but we ended up with a good race track and that was the most important thing."
Leigh Adams, who won the opening round in Sweden two weeks ago, was eliminated at the semi-final stage. The popular Australian is still in contention though and he is just seven points adrift of Crump in the overall standings.
Meanwhile, defending Champion Nicki Pedersen had another disappointing night. He failed to make the latter stages of the meeting after being passed by Greg Hancock in his last qualifying race.
The next round will take place at the Olympic Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland on Saturday 29th May.