Adams leads Crump to a rare Aussie 1-2 The opening round of the Speedway World Championship in Sweden on May 1 was a momentous one from an Australian perspective -- only the second Aussie quinella in a final since the title's inception ...
Adams leads Crump to a rare Aussie 1-2
The opening round of the Speedway World Championship in Sweden on May 1 was a momentous one from an Australian perspective -- only the second Aussie quinella in a final since the title's inception in 1936!
In a spectacular opening round at the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm, which was punctuated by a smorgasbord of thrilling passing manoeuvres and photo finishes, 33-year-old Leigh Adams claimed the spoils in the four-lap final from compatriot Jason Crump, Sweden's Tony Rickardsson and Polish veteran Tomasz Gollob.
It was the third GP victory for Adams, and an extension of his brilliant early-season form in the European domestic speedway leagues -- highlighted by his lead in the UK individual averages. Said the seven-time Australian champion and current world number four: "I have been in such good form in league racing this year that I started to think it would all blow up tonight. But it didn't and it helped having such a great track to race on.
"I didn't even get the best of draws in either the semi or final but I made up my mind to cut back in the final and it worked well."
With three-time championship runner-up, 28-year-old Crump, following Adams home in the final, it was the second Aussie 1-2 in the modern era -- that is, the start of the multi-round concept from 1995. Previous to the Adams-Crump vanguard, Ryan Sullivan led home the now-retired Todd Wiltshire in the third round of the 2002 championship in Great Britain.
Prior to 1995 -- when one-off meetings were the standard fare to crown world champions -- the closest Australia got to a quinella was in 1936 and 1938, when Australians finished first and third on both occasions. Australia's antipodean neighbour, New Zealand, has two 1-2s to its credit -- in 1968-69 when Ivan Mauger and Barry Briggs dominated proceedings.
Not only did Adams and Crump dominate round one in Sweden, but they also made the best starts to any of their world championship campaigns -- Adams now in his ninth year of battle, and Crump his eighth. However, for Crump, his place in the final only came about after television replays were required to separate him from American Greg Hancock in the opening semi-final -- in a race won by Adams. With only two riders advancing to the final, Crump was the 'chosen' one, ending Hancock and fourth-placed Lee Richardson's evening. In the second semi-final, world champion Nicki Pedersen and the unheralded Jesper Jensen were eliminated, with Rickardsson and Gollob going through to the final battle.
"I'm happy because that's the best start I've ever made to a grand prix season," said Crump, an eight-time GP winner. "Before that, my best start was in 1999 when I was third in the opening round in the Czech Republic.
"Of course, the plan now is to maintain the momentum, and I'm confident I can do that in round two in Prague (Czech Republic) -- I have an excellent record at that particular circuit."
Meanwhile, world number three and recently crowned Australian champion, Sullivan, after effortlessly working his way through Pre-Main (heats 1-10), was competitive all evening, but after a fourth place in heat 21 failed to make the semis. He sits in equal 11th on 7pts, with Adams -- understandably - the leader on 25 from Crump (20), Rickardsson (18) and Gollob (16).
Round two of the Speedway World Championship will be held at the Marketa Stadium in Prague (Czech Republic) on Saturday, May 15 -- one of only a few dedicated venues on the 2004 calendar.
CURRENT STANDINGS (after one of nine rounds): 1 Adams 25; 2 Crump 18; 3 Rickardsson 18; 4 Gollob 16; 5Nicki Pedersen, Greg Hancock 13; 7 Richardson, Jensen 11; 9Loram, Bjarne Pedersen 8; 11 Sullivan 7.