HERBIE: HOLDER PUSH NO SURPRISE
Thursday 26th July 2012, 17:31
World Championship leader Greg Hancock admits he always expected Chris Holder to emerge as one of his main rivals for his SGP crown.
The Californian, who has 87 points, heads his Piraterna team mate by nine going into the FIM Fogo Croatian Grand Prix in Gorican on Saturday.
Holder is third on 78 – level with his second-placed compatriot Jason Crump – as the SGP elite enter the second half of their 12-round World Championship season.
Hancock knows the men from Down Under have plenty of time to overhaul him. Triple world champion Crump is no stranger to chasing the top prize, but Holder has forced himself into contention for the first time since joining the series in 2010.
It remains to be seen whether the Sydneysider can sustain his challenge, but Hancock, one of Holder’s boyhood idols, isn’t surprised to see the 24-year-old hot on his heels.
"Iâ€™ve known all along that he was going to be one of my biggest pushers. Heâ€™s definitely there for winning the title, as I am. Thatâ€™s okay; heâ€™s young and heâ€™s ambitious. He wants it and I respect that."
- Greg Hancock
He said: “I’ve known all along that he was going to be one of my biggest pushers. He’s definitely there for winning the title, as I am. That’s okay; he’s young and he’s ambitious. He wants it and I respect that. The two of us have just got to ride our races and see what happens at the end.
“I see a lot of him. We ride together in Sweden and the more I hang out with him, the more I gain respect for the guy because I’ve always known he has the talent in my own mind.
“Looking at what he does, how he tries to learn and the questions he asks and things like that, it’s inspiring to be around a guy like that. He knows his competition well and he races hard. He’s not afraid to rub elbows, but he has also got a good head on his shoulders.”
While Holder already has four Aussie titles to his name, as well as league championships in Poland, Sweden and Britain, Hancock says the Poole skipper is keen to carry on learning.
He added: “I think just watching and learning is one of his major things. He probably doesn’t show it too much, but he’s really clever. He’s thinking and working on the job all the time. That’s one more of the positive things about that guy.”
Hancock stormed to victory in the season-opening FIM Buckley Systems New Zealand SGP, but has been unable to get back on top of the rostrum since then.
His consistent scoring throughout the first six rounds has given the Swedish-based man the edge in the title race. But Herbie is despite to add to his haul of 16 SGP wins before the year is out.
He said: “The Grand Prix is tough and I understand that it takes time and you have to have consistency all the time. I want to sit on top of the podium a couple more times. I’ve only had one win thus far and I really feel I’ve got it in me to take more.
“If you’re consistently up there and not quite winning rounds, I don’t think it’s a problem. But these days, it does add to your belief mentally to have that win. It shows your competition you mean business.”
Hancock cannot wait to return to Gorican – the venue where he became the oldest world champion in speedway history last September – 14 years after he won his first in 1997. Having won the inaugural SGP event there in 2010, there are few happier hunting grounds on the tour for the American.
He said: “Since the first time I went there, I took to the track, I liked it and you have to ride it really hard. You have to put the bike into the corner in different ways. It’s pretty good for my style. The place has brought me some good times and I just hope it’s going to continue to be exactly the same.
“I’ve got nothing but good things to say after that night last September. It topped off everything from the year before when I got myself in good shape and back in the game again.
“I’m pleased that we’re getting closer and closer to Gorican again and I get nothing but positive energy out of that place. I’m going to try and keep that energy flowing.”
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