NICKI TURNS UP THE HEAT IN GORICAN
Saturday 28th July 2012, 23:06
Danish champion Nicki Pedersen is ready to pile the pressure on World Championship leader Greg Hancock after winning the FIM Fogo Croatian Speedway Grand Prix in Gorican on Saturday night.
The Odense-born racer topped the rostrum ahead of Swedish star Andreas Jonsson, Polish icon Tomasz Gollob and wild card Jurica Pavlic, who delighted the locals by bagging fourth spot on his family track.
Pedersen, who has 91 World Championship points, is now just six behind Hancock in second place with five SGP rounds remaining.
The Dane’s position was strengthened as triple world champion Jason Crump failed to make the final as he bravely battled on just a week after undergoing surgery on a broken collarbone.
Meanwhile, Chris Holder was forced out of the meeting after aggravating a pre-existing rib injury when a broken primary chain sent him crashing in heat 14.
Crump is now on 87 points after scoring nine, while Holder is on 84 after exiting on six.
Pedersen knows he has a long way to go before he can celebrate his fourth World Championship. But he was determined to turn up the heat on the Californian, who has ruled the roost since the FIM Swedish SGP in Gothenburg on May 26.
"At least I have put the pressure on Greg again. He hasnâ€™t had any pressure in the last couple of Grand Prix rounds. I donâ€™t think anybody likes pressure."
- Nicki Pedersen
He said: “If I wanted to fight for the top three, I knew I needed to pull something back.
“At least I have put the pressure on Greg again. He hasn’t had any pressure in the last couple of Grand Prix rounds. I don’t think anybody likes pressure, so that will be good.”
Pedersen’s last Grand Prix win came at the FIM Mitas Czech SGP in Prague on May 12. Six of the last eight Marketa Stadium winners have gone on to be crowned world champion in the same year.
But the FIM Monster Energy Speedway World Cup gold medallist isn’t concerning himself with omens and lucky charms.
“I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “There are still five rounds to go. It’s a long way to go. I just want to be consistent, score some points and anything can happen.
“I’m taking these Grand Prix rounds step by step. The next one is a big one in Italy and I’m pretty sure I’m going to use the same equipment.
“I’m more than happy just being in the top three. When you’re in the top three, anything can happen.”
Pedersen has been one of the strongest riders in league speedway this year and his scores for Gdansk in Poland, Vargarna in Sweden and Danish club Holsted have very rarely dipped out of double figures.
So the 35-year-old was delighted to bring this form on to the world stage over the past month and add the Gorican gold to the SWC title he won with Denmark on July 14.
He said: “Things have been working very well for me in the leagues – it’s just the Grand Prix where I slipped away a bit.
“Over the last month, we have learned a bit. We were making some drastic mistakes with the setup and we analysed that. We definitely pulled it back and knew what we did wrong. It all paid off in Gorican.
“It was just my fifth ride where I messed up a little bit with the setup. We got it back in the semi-final. I haven’t had a situation in the last couple of Grand Prix rounds where I could start playing a bit in my fifth heat. It meant I could start relaxing a bit and that was good.”
World No.2 Jonsson, who won the 2011 Croatian SGP, battled through a heavy bout of flu to pick up the silver medal, but admitted his lightening-quick machinery carried him through.
He said: “I don’t think it really affected me at all. I had a really good bike to start with; it was working fantastic at the beginning. When the track got slick, I lost something. I didn’t follow it up with the setup. But I went a tooth down with the sprocket and it started to work better.
“I got some points in the semi and made it through to the final. I made a few changes and felt really fast in the final. I couldn’t really make the start. I’m really happy with the second, though. I got some more points.”
Third-placed Gollob has endured a nightmare run of form in his league racing for Gorzow and Hammarby. So he was pleased to get his machines working and leave Croatia with 13 points.
He said: “The problem has been my bike – it was a problem in the last meeting, but it was working in Gorican. We tested three engines here and the last one was perfect.
“Congratulations to Nicki and Andreas. It was a fantastic meeting and I have to say a big thank you to my mechanics. They have done so much work in the last few days. They have not stopped working.”
British star Chris Harris enjoyed a happier night at the SGP office after scoring 10 points and reaching the semi-finals.
Next up for the SGP elite is the FIM Fogo Italian SGP in Terenzano on August 11.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Greg Hancock 97, 2 Nicki Pedersen 91, 3 Jason Crump 87, 4 Chris Holder 84, 5 Tomasz Gollob 77, 6 Fredrik Lindgren 72, 7 Emil Sayfutdinov 65, 8 Andreas Jonsson 62, 9 Jaroslaw Hampel 46, 10 Antonio Lindback 46, 11 Hans Andersen 39, 12 Chris Harris 38, 13 Bjarne Pedersen 38, 14 Peter Ljung 36, 15 Kenneth Bjerre 35, 16 Martin Vaculik 28, 17 Bartosz Zmarzlik 13, 18 Jurica Pavlic 12, 19 Tomas H Jonasson 11, 20 Josef Franc 9, 21 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 7, 22 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 23 Mikkel B Jensen 4, 24 Peter Kildemand 2, 25 Jason Bunyan 1.
CROATIAN SGP SCORES: 1 Nicki Pedersen 19, 2 Andreas Jonsson 15, 3 Tomasz Gollob 13, 4 Jurica Pavlic 12, 5 Chris Harris 10, 6 Greg Hancock 10, 7 Jason Crump 9, 8 Freddie Lindgren 9, 9 Martin Vaculik 8, 10 Hans Andersen 8, 11 Emil Sayfutdinov 7, 12 Kenneth Bjerre 7, 13 Antonio Lindback 6, 14 Chris Holder 6, 15 Bjarne Pedersen 5, 16 Peter Ljung 0, 17 Dino Kovacic 0, 18 Samo Kukovica DNR.
- 25/05: MATEJ MARCHES ON
- 25/05: AJ: FORM ON THE UP
- 24/05: DANISH CHAMP STARS IN SLANGERUP
- 24/05: HARRIS RUMOURS SLAMMED
- 24/05: EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ON KING'S LYNN TICKETS
- 24/05: PUK PUZZLED BY SGP FORM
- 23/05: NICKI OUT OF DANISH FINAL
- 23/05: HANCOCK LEADS AMERICAN ASSAULT
- 23/05: TRIALS ICON BOU SET FOR CARDIFF
- 22/05: NO SIX-POINTERS SUITS SAYFUTDINOV