Adams and Crump out to deny Rickardsson The 2005 FIM Speedway World Championship makes its second stopover in Sweden on Saturday night, where Aussie giants Jason Crump and Leigh Adams would enjoy nothing better than delaying the inevitable --...
Adams and Crump out to deny Rickardsson
The 2005 FIM Speedway World Championship makes its second stopover in Sweden on Saturday night, where Aussie giants Jason Crump and Leigh Adams would enjoy nothing better than delaying the inevitable -- a record-equalling sixth world title for Tony Rickardsson.
After a year of incomparable brilliance, the Swedish messiah currently holds a 54pt (145 to 91) lead over reigning world champion, Crump, and is hankering to be crowned in front of a packed stadium at Malilla, and join New Zealander Ivan Mauger on six big ones.
That's something Crump, who turned 30 on August 6, is fully aware of, and with his title defence now a pipe dream, he'll be fighting hard to finish off the season with a bang - and at least denying Rickardsson his moment of glory until round eight in Poland on August 27.
"Being able to defend my title successfully is now a very tall order, as Rickardsson has been in such dynamic form this year," said Crump. "Also the meeting is again in front of his countrymen, so he will be hard to toss - but he proved in the World Cup (Final) that he can have an off night and I reckon I'm due for a big night!
"Sweden is the only place I've managed a win this year so it would be really satisfying to beat Tony in front of his home crowd again and help me maintain second in the title. I'm the only rider to take a GP win off him this year and Malilla would be an excellent place to grab another one."
Crump is returning to action after missing the 2005 Speedway World Cup (SWC) Race-off on August 4 with a nasty virus. Crump-less, Australia finished third in that meeting, and missed the final for the second consecutive year.
"It was extremely disappointing to miss the World Cup meeting last week," said Crump. "My kids have had chicken pox for the last three weeks and although I had them years ago, I think I got some sort of virus.
"It was just very unfortunate that it hit me on the day of the meeting. Even if I had ridden that night, the way I was feeling I would've been lucky to score a point. As it was the Poles were unstoppable in front of their home crowd."
Meanwhile, Adams, taking on the captain's role in the absence of Crump, starred in the SWC Race-off, and he's now on track to arrest some moderate world championship form. Incongruously, the Mildura (Vic) ace has failed to reach the semi-finals in the last three rounds, and has now slipped to fifth in the standings on 64pts, behind the two Pedersens: Nicki (78) and Bjarne (66).
"I have to say that I found some form during the World Cup and it will be disappointing if I can't translate that into a top four in this Grand Prix round," said Adams. "Everyone knows I want to finish in the top three of the standings this year and I only have myself to blame if that doesn't happen. I have three GPs to show that Leigh Adams is not a thing of the past and that I will again be a factor in this tournament next year."
Australian riders have consistently put on a good show in Scandinavian world championship events, with at least one antipodean making the Swedish GP Big Final since 1999, for five victories: 2000-01, 2005 (Crump), 2003 (Ryan Sullivan) and 2004 (Adams).
The mercurial Sullivan is aiming to reproduce some of that searing 2003 form at Malilla, which will be the 24th venue to be used since the championship adopted a GP-style format in 1995. The 30-year-old has enjoyed a stellar season in national league racing, but has only managed two semi-final appearances in six rounds.
Sullivan's now in 13th place on 38pts, and his immediate goal will be to finish in this year's top eight, which will guarantee automatic entry for the 2006 title. As it stands, Polish rider Jaroslaw Hampel is currently the eighth place rider, on 56pts.
Mind you, Sullivan is not the only big gun who has failed to make a big impression so far in 2005. In a 16-rider field which contains a posse of world champions, only two riders have managed to win Big Finals: Crump (round two) and Rickardsson (rounds 1, 3-6).
If the duo finishes off the year in the same vein, it will provide a stark contrast to the last three campaigns, when seven separate riders won GPs. Even in 1996 and 1998, when the championship was held over six rounds, four different riders prevailed in Big Finals.