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SWC: Jason Crump Poland round eight preview

Crump moves into overdrive Australian Jason Crump's play on the 2004 Speedway World Championship will move into overdrive on Saturday, September 18, when the penultimate round is held in the sport's Continental nerve centre -- ...

Crump moves into overdrive

Australian Jason Crump's play on the 2004 Speedway World Championship will move into overdrive on Saturday, September 18, when the penultimate round is held in the sport's Continental nerve centre -- Poland.

Crump, who rides for Torun in the Polish domestic league, currently leads this year's world title by 15pts after seven of nine rounds, and will be returning this weekend to a venue -- the 25,000-capacity BKS Polonia Stadium in Bydgoszcz -- where he has made the final every year since 2001.

That's an impressive record which the 29-year-old reigning world number two will be keen to build upon, with the ultimate carrot the chance of becoming only the fourth Australian to win the speedway world title in its 59-year existence.

Crump, who remains the youngest rider to win a world championship GP at 21 years and 25 days old, finished second in last year's Polish event, which saw him move past Nicki Pedersen into the world championship lead -- but one which he was to relinquish in a tumultuous final round.

That bitter experience only hardened Crump's resolve to take the next step in 2004 -- and his riposte has been nothing short of sensational. The 10-time GP winner has made five of this year's seven finals on his factory Jawa -- only arch-rival Tony Rickardsson can match that penetration -- for two firsts, a couple of second places and one fourth.

That unnerving consistency now equates to a 15pt (127 to 112) lead over five-time world champion Rickardsson, with American Greg Hancock a further point back in third (111).

Unless the recent form guide implodes, that triumvirate will fight it out for 2004 championship honours -- with Crump the only rider who can mathematically claim the title in Poland.

However, that's an unlikely scenario, although Crump's recent form in the UK domestic league has been nothing short of sensational.

"Yes, it's been a busy few weeks in the UK, but I've felt good and put in some pretty solid performances," said Crump. "However, the world championship is another issue altogether, and we all start afresh in Poland, which will create its own challenges.

"The Polish love their speedway, so it's always nice to race in front of them. And a lot of my sponsors are Polish-based -- I'm actually heading over there a day earlier to catch up with some of them."

Crump, who won the 2001 Polish GP, will not only have to contend with his usual sparring partners in Rickardsson, Hancock, Aussie Leigh Adams (102pts) and Nicki Pedersen (89) this weekend, but 33-year-old Tomasz Gollob is also likely to throw in some pyrotechnics of his own.

The Polish rider has won his past two home battles, and is now aiming to become only the second rider in history to win the same GP three years in a row. Crump was the first to set that milestone when he won his third successive Czech Republic GP in round two this year.

"Gollob is always strong in front of his home crowd, and Sweden's Andreas Jonsson rides for Bydgoszcz in the Polish domestic league, so he'll be another tough one to beat," warned Crump. "However, I'm ready, and I'm confident my strong record in Poland will hold me in good stead.

"The last round in Slovenia didn't turn out the best (Crump was eliminated at the semi-final stage), but this weekend will be a different story."

Crump's first outing in round eight will be in heat 10, where he will come up against Hancock, Dane Hans Andersen and Adams. Rickardsson, Jonsson and Nicki Pedersen will all begin their campaigns one race earlier, while Gollob will have to fight his way through the qualifying heats to progress to the evening's main action.

For full results from the Speedway World Championship, including live GP coverage, visit www.speedwayworld.tv

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