Crump's lead whittled back to 15pts Despite making a semi-final appearance in the Slovenian round of the Speedway World Championship for the third successive year on September 4, Aussie Jason Crump's lead in the 2004 title has now been ...
Crump's lead whittled back to 15pts
Despite making a semi-final appearance in the Slovenian round of the Speedway World Championship for the third successive year on September 4, Aussie Jason Crump's lead in the 2004 title has now been whittled back to 15pts with just two events remaining.
Crump, 29, finished third in the opening semi-final at the Matije Gubca Stadium in Krsko behind Dane Hans Andersen and 1997 world champion Greg Hancock, marking only the second time this year that the Aussie has failed to clinch a berth in the decider.
Crump's anguish was then exacerbated when two of his arch-rivals, Sweden's Tony Rickardsson and Hancock, finished 1-2 in the four-lap final, with Rickardsson leaping from fourth to second in the title with his 13th GP victory.
Rickardsson, who won his last GP in the opening round of the 2003 title, is now on 112pts, 15 in arrears of Crump (127), who still managed to claim 13pts for his labours in Slovenia. In a tightening leaderboard, Hancock also remains in the mix on 111pts, ahead of another Australian, Leigh Adams (102), who was supplanted by both Hancock and Rickardsson in the title chase after finishing fourth in the same semi-final as Crump's.
In a round where seven of this year's current top eight made it through to the semi-finals -- Rickardsson won the second outing from Andreas Jonsson, Nicki Pedersen and Bjarne Pedersen -- Crump was consistent all evening, although he did require a top-two finish in heat 22 to continue. Crump, the 1995 world junior champion, duly obliged with a second behind Bjarne Pedersen, before his evening came to a involuntarily end in the opening semi after drawing the out-of-favour gate four starting position.
That left three of the four finalists from the previous round -- Rickardsson, Hancock and Andersen -- to battle it out alongside Jonsson in the evening's climax. Andersen eventually finished third ahead of Jonsson.
Despite Slovenia remaining something of a bogey round for Crump, he still remains the only multiple winner in 2004 -- and it's the impending re-discovery of that imperious form which has him in a sanguine mood ahead of the penultimate round in Poland on September 18.
"Sure, not everything went according to script in Slovenia, but that's just a part of this unpredictable speedway game," said Crump, who won the last of his 10 GP wins in round five. "I've still made most of the finals in 2004, which has gotten me to where I am today -- a clear leader in the championship.
"I've already moved on from Slovenia, and my next challenge will be to re-focus for round eight in Poland, where I have achieved considerable success in the past. There's still a maximum of 50pts up for grabs in the final two rounds, and if I can put a lot of those next to my name then the rest will take care of itself."
Crump has made the final in Poland during the past three outings, which included a victory in 2001, on top of a second (2003) and a fourth (2002).
<pre> ROUND SEVEN RESULTS 1 Tony Rickardsson Sweden 25pts 2 Greg Hancock America 20 3 Hans Andersen Denmark 18 4 Andreas Jonsson Sweden 16 5 Nicki Pedersen Denmark 13 5 Jason Crump Australia 13 7 Leigh Adams Australia 11 7 Bjarne Pedersen Denmark 11 9 Rune Holta Norway 8 9 Matej Zagar Slovenia 8
SPEEDWAY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after seven of nine rounds) 1 Crump Australia 127 2 Rickardsson Sweden 112 3 Hancock America 111 4 Adams Australia 102 5 Nicki Pedersen Denmark 89 6 Jonsson Sweden 76 7 Tomasz Gollob Poland 70 7 Bjarne Pedersen Denmark 70 9 Andersen Sweden 66 10 Lee Richardson Great Britain 64