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Jason Crump SWC round 4 preview

Crump Banking on a Millennium Celebration Round four of the Speedway World Championship will be held at the showpiece Millennium Stadium in the UK on June 12, with Aussie dynamo Jason Crump out to supplant arch-rival Tony Rickardsson and return...

Crump Banking on a Millennium Celebration

Round four of the Speedway World Championship will be held at the showpiece Millennium Stadium in the UK on June 12, with Aussie dynamo Jason Crump out to supplant arch-rival Tony Rickardsson and return to the head of the 24-rider pack.

Crump, who resides in Northhampton, led the world championship after the opening two rounds, but an atypical performance in the Polish-hosted round three on May 29 saw him slip to second in the standings, 1pt (54 to 53) behind Rickardsson.

Before the aberration, Crump had qualified for nine consecutive semi-finals, with his stellar run dating back to round three of the 2003 world championship -- which was also held at the Millennium Stadium. During that period, Crump won three grands prix, with his tally of successes now standing at nine.

Two of those nine wins have come in the British leg of the world title, including the 1996 event which saw him become the youngest GP winner at 21 years and 25 days with a tantalising victory over Danish legend Hans Nielsen. The Aussie then doubled up in the 1998 British GP at Coventry.

Since the British GP made the move to the 62,500-seat Millennium Stadium in 2001, Crump has finished second on two other occasions -- behind Rickardsson in the inaugural event, and then runner-up to Dane Nicki Pedersen in 2003.

Now back to full fitness after being nobbled by a nasty virus, Crump's final preparation for Saturday night has bordered on the bizarre, after an incident in a UK Elite League meeting on June 6. Riding for Belle Vue in a home match, Crump was on track for another high-scoring effort before a fork snapped, throwing him off his factory Jawa.

"I was in the lead at the time, and before I knew it the fork was gone and my front wheel had locked up," said Crump of the unprecedented incident. "Obviously, the fork already had some sort of hairline fracture, but that's the type of thing you're only going to see under a microscope. It was a bit hairy there for a few seconds, but in the end the damage was minimal -- to both rider and machine.

"Obviously, the crash wasn't the best preparation, but I've now got a new engine on the go and I'm very happy with how it's performing."

If the past is a reliable guide, Crump is expecting a slick surface at the Millennium Stadium, which places an absolute premium on engine preparation.

"We've been working on adding some extra oomph into the bottom-end," said Crump. "That will not only help me in getting off the starts, but the Millennium Stadium is very short, so you don't exactly need a bike with a massive amount of power -- you won't be able to use it."

June 9 will go down as Crump's 53rd world championship GP, with the 28-year-old banking on a resurgence taking him all the way to the four-rider final -- which would go down as his 27th appearance in a decider. En route, Crump's main opposition will include all the usual 'suspects' -- Rickardsson, fellow Aussies Leigh Adams and Ryan Sullivan, American Greg Hancock and Polish rider Tomasz Gollob. In addition, a couple of youngsters - 22-year-old Jaroslaw Hampel and round three winner Bjarne Pedersen - are now attempting to fast-track their way into the top echelon, which augers well for a brilliant round four.

-jcr-

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