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Speedway World Championship round two preview

Aussies out to maintain the momentum Crack Australian duo Leigh Adams and Jason Crump will head into this Saturday night's second round of the Speedway World Championship in Prague with a simple mandate -- maintaining the rage. That's ...

Aussies out to maintain the momentum

Crack Australian duo Leigh Adams and Jason Crump will head into this Saturday night's second round of the Speedway World Championship in Prague with a simple mandate -- maintaining the rage.

That's after the countrymen -- both former under 21 world speedway champions -- dominated the opening round in Sweden on May 1, with recently turned 33-year-Adams winning his third grand prix in spectacular fashion from Crump -- only the second 1-2 in a world speedway final for Australia since the title commenced in 1936.

The quinella also doubled as the best starts to a world championship campaign for the two Aussies, with their laizze-faire attitudes to the 2004 season bearing early fruit. Says Adams, who will ride in his 56th GP on Saturday night: "I have no reason to be nervous or to think that my good form is about to end. I have never felt better or more confident and although I know you can't excel in every GP, I am ready to take the highs with the lows and be there at the end.

"My bikes and team are awesome and we are enjoying ourselves. That is half the battle."

If Adams, a seven-time Australian champion, prevails at the 17,500-seat Marketa Stadium on May 15, he will become only the sixth rider -- and the third Australian - to win consecutive GPs since the Speedway World Championship went multi-round in 1995. The current members of the select group are Danish pair Tommy Knudsen (in 1995) and Hans Nielsen (1996); Tony Rickardsson (1998/2001); Crump (2001) and Ryan Sullivan (2002).

However, past form at Marketa suggests that eight-time GP winner Crump may be the man most likely in round two, courtesy of his peerless record at the permanent speedway venue -- wins in the last two years, complemented by two third places dating back to 1999.

"Marketa has always been a great track -- and because it is a permanent speedway venue you always know what to expect," said Crump, second in the past three world titles. "Because of my connection to Jawa (a Czech-based company), I've also ridden at Marketa a few extra times over the years, but on Saturday night we all start afresh -- I can't wait."

In last year's GP at Marketa, Crump defeated Tony Rickardsson, Nicki Pedersen and Norwegian Rune Holta in the four-lap final, and in 2003 he bested American Greg Hancock, Sullivan and Rickardsson.

That same opposition will be on location this weekend, where names like Tomasz Gollob, Lee Richardson, Lukas Dryml and Mark Loram can be added to the mix.

Rickardsson, seeking to equal legendary New Zealand rider Ivan Mauger on six world titles, finished third in round one, followed by Gollob. Rickardsson hasn't won a GP since round one last year, with the current drought the longest of his stellar career.

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Sullivan, who won his maiden Australian speedway title earlier this year, hasn't made a final in the past four GPs, and will be aiming to move back towards the pointy end at Marketa to keep the title front-runners in sight. Sullivan hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a world championship since 1998, with his best finish a third place in 2002 behind Rickardsson and Crump.

<pre> ROUND ONE RESULTS AND CURRENT STANDINGS 1 Leigh Adams Australia 2 Jason Crump Australia 3 Tony Rickardsson Sweden 4 Tomasz Gollob Poland 5 Nicki Pedersen Denmark 6 Greg Hancock USA 7 Lee Richardson GB 8 Jesper Jensen Denmark 9 Mark Loram GB 10 Bjarne Pedersen Denmark 11 Ryan Sullivan Australia

CURRENT STANDINGS (after one of nine rounds):
1 Adams 25
2 Crump 20
3 Rickardsson 18
4 Gollob 16
5 Nicki Pedersen 13
5 Greg Hancock 13
7 Richardson 11
7 Jensen 11
9 Loram 8
9 Bjarne Pedersen 8
11 Sullivan 7

-Motorcycling Australia

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