Speedway Grand Prix: Nicki Pedersen's victory may lead to a second World title

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Speedway Grand Prix series leader Nicki Pedersen took a huge step towards a second World title with a faultless victory in the Czech Republic Grand Prix at Prague.

The 2003 champion took his third GP win of the season in difficult conditions at the Marketa Stadium, and for the second time this year he went through the card with seven race wins out of seven.

Pedersen’s joy was compounded by the fact that the three riders alongside him in the Final were all outside the top eight going into the meeting – meaning that all of the serious title challengers lost significant ground.

In fact, as the majority of riders apart from Pedersen dropped points to each other throughout the evening, Hans Andersen, Greg Hancock and Chris Harris all missed out on semi-final places, whilst Leigh Adams and Jason Crump were eliminated in Heat 22.

Pedersen’s closest challengers after 20 heats were Rune Holta, who was consistent throughout on his way to eleven points, whilst Scott Nicholls shrugged off the effects of food poisoning – and an opening-race last place – to score ten, as did Jarek Hampel thanks to wins in his last three outings.

Andersen missed out on countback after four riders finished on eight points, whilst Hancock, who crashed heavily in Poland last weekend, was also without a race win as he lost ground with six.

There were injury problems in the meeting too, with Antonio Lindback withdrawing after three scoreless rides having aggravated his wrist problem – and the Swede is now adrift at the foot of the standings.
But his fellow countryman Andreas Jonsson made an even more dramatic exit from procedings with a heavy trip into the air-fence on turn four of Heat 16. Although Jonsson was able to walk off the track after treatment, it was no surprise that he has done further damage to his shoulder injury, and will now be battling to be fit for Malilla in a fortnight.

Pedersen, who generally dictated his races from the gate and in the first bends, came through the first semi-final with Nicholls, with Wieslaw Jagus and Matej Zagar – who had started with two heat wins – missing out.

The second semi saw Poland have the edge over Australia as Holta and Hampel raced clear of Adams and Crump.
Pedersen then had to fend off an early challenge from Hampel to win the Final, whilst Nicholls and Holta exchanged places on the third lap before Holta regained the spot as Nicholls went too wide on turns three and four.

Pedersen said: “It feels like a new season after the long break, and perhaps I was trying to defend too much in the last two rounds. I’m a hunter and I want to win all the time.”

“Defending is not my style, I just want to race my bike and enjoy it. Today was incredible, the bike felt good and I felt really good on it!
“I’m very happy with the team and the way things are going so far. But there’s still a long way to go, we’re just half-way through and I still want to win races all the time and keep scoring points.”

CZECH GRAND PRIX RESULT: Nicki Pedersen 24, Jarek Hampel 16, Rune Holta 16, Scott Nicholls 12, Jason Crump 11, Wieslaw Jagus 9, Leigh Adams 8, Matej Zagar 8, Hans Andersen 8, Andreas Jonsson 7, Greg Hancock 6, Bjarne Pedersen 6, Chris Harris 5, Lubos Tomicek 4, Josef Franc (res) 3, Tomasz Gollob 1, Antonio Lindback 0, Matej Kus (res) 0.

GP STANDINGS: Nicki Pedersen 110, Leigh Adams 83, Hans Andersen 75, Greg Hancock 73, Jason Crump 64, Chris Harris 61, Jarek Hampel 50, Andreas Jonsson 45, Rune Holta 43, Scott Nicholls 42, Wieslaw Jagus 38, Tomasz Gollob 37, Bjarne Pedersen 34, Matej Zagar 33, Antonio Lindback

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin