DADDY COOL IN CARDIFF
Sunday 26th August 2012, 00:12
Australian star Chris Holder admits he had to battle with his nerves, despite picking up his second FIM Fogo British Speedway Grand Prix win in three years in Cardiff on Saturday.
The Sydneysider scored 23 points out of a possible 24 as he topped the Millennium Stadium podium ahead of Poole Pirates team mate Krzysztof Kasprzak. Swedish star Antonio Lindback was third and his compatriot Fredrik Lindgren was fourth.
But Holder dominated proceedings and, after being headed by Nicki Pedersen in heat two, he stormed to six wins from as many rides.
The 24-year-old is now second in the World Championship on 117 points and just a point behind leader Greg Hancock with three rounds to race. Pedersen is third on 112, while Jason Crump has 103 in fourth.
The Poole-based rider won in the Millennium Stadium in his debut SGP season in 2010 and finished third last term. But Holder admits the white-hot atmosphere created by a 38,000-strong crowd still gives him the jitters.
"To come out of the last corner in front â€¦ thereâ€™s isnâ€™t a better feeling on a speedway bike than that."
- Chris Holder
He said: “It’s unreal. I was super nervous before the meeting on the parade with all the people. It’s difficult to just concentrate on riding – you really want to do well and you’re hoping it’s going to happen. When it does, it’s the best feeling ever.
“All night went well. But just because you win a race here and there, it doesn’t mean much. You’ve got to keep going. You could easily stuff it up in the semi-final and be out.
“I was just concentrating as best I could and to come out of the last corner in front … there’s isn’t a better feeling on a speedway bike than that.”
Holder started the night 17 points behind Hancock, but slashed the gap to one after the Californian missed out on the semi-finals on seven points. That’s the first time the 42-year-old has failed to reach the last eight since the FIM Nordic SGP in Vojens on September 11, 2010.
Herbie suffered an engine failure while second in race 17, which would have secured his passage into the last eight. Holder knows he enjoyed a bit of fortune there, but was quick to pay tribute to one of his boyhood idols.
He said: “You’ve got to give him credit. He’s at the top of the table still and he’s not just there because he is getting lucky. He has been consistently good day in and day out. He had an off-night and there’s not much you can do about that.
“His bike stopped when he was in second and he could quite easily have been in the semis and the final. You’ve got to be in it to win it and hopefully it works out for me.”
With Hancock out of contention, Crump missing out on six points and Pedersen finishing last in his semi after scoring 11 in the heats, the final was a must-win race for Holder.
He took full advantage of his World Championship rivals’ misfortune, but admits he didn’t know the point situation before the race.
He said: “To be honest, I had no idea. I just wanted to win and get as many points as I could.
“When I saw that two of the guys had missed out on the semi and Nicki dropped out, I thought that it would bunk me up if I had a good result. I can’t believe it. I’m one point off the lead right now – it’s great.”
Holder’s face lit up in the press conference as his five-month-old son Max helped Dad face the media. There is no doubt fatherhood has given the rider extra drive and focus this year and he was pleased to celebrate his victory with his young family.
He said: “Just having my girlfriend Sealy here, Max and my brothers was great. I had a hospitality box and it was full of my mates. It’s such a cool buzz.
“When I turn my phone on, it’s going to be going crazy. My family back home got up to watch this at 2am and they’ll probably wish that they were here. But I’m happy I got the win.”
Runner-up Kasprzak was given a very late call-up for the British SGP after Danish rider Kenneth Bjerre suffered a broken leg at Peterborough on Thursday.
KK was in action at Swindon that night and cancelled his flight back to Poland on Friday, before scrambling some equipment together to race in world speedway’s biggest event.
He said: “My manager Gordon Day called me to say I was in at 9am on Friday. After the meeting at Swindon I had only one engine.
“I got one engine from my Dad and the second engine was from my promoter Matt Ford at Poole. This was the engine I used. It was fast and I’m very happy. It was prepared by Peter Johns and I want to say thanks because I was very quick.”
Lindback was also elated after achieving his second straight rostrum finish following his victory in the FIM Fogo Italian SGP at Terenzano on August 11.
The Rio Rocket is just two points behind eighth-placed Andreas Jonsson in the battle for the final automatic qualification berth for the 2013 World Championship. And he is keen to keep piling on the pressure.
“It’s going well,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m two points off Andreas so I’m getting closer. I’ll take it from him.”
Next up for the SGP elite is the FIM Scandinavian SGP at Malilla’s G&B Arena in the forests of Sweden on September 8.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Greg Hancock 118, 2 Chris Holder 117, 3 Nicki Pedersen 112, 4 Jason Crump 103, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 96, 6 Tomasz Gollob 93, 7 Fredrik Lindgren 89, 8 Andreas Jonsson 76, 9 Antonio Lindback 74, 10 Hans Andersen 53, 11 Chris Harris 52, 12 Martin Vaculik 49, 13 Jaroslaw Hampel 46, 14 Peter Ljung 44, 15 Bjarne Pedersen 43, 16 Kenneth Bjerre 41, 17 Krzysztof Kasprzak 13, 18 Bartosz Zmarzlik 13, 19 Jurica Pavlic 12, 20 Tomas H Jonasson 11, 21 Josef Franc 9, 22 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 7, 23 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 24 Scott Nicholls 7, 25 Mikkel B Jensen 4, 26 Nicolas Covatti 3, 27 Peter Kildemand 2, 28 Jason Bunyan 1.
CARDIFF SCORES: 1 Chris Holder 23, 2 Krzysztof Kasprzak 13, 3 Antonio Lindback 12, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 12, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 12, 6 Nicki Pedersen 11, 7 Hans Andersen 10, 8 Tomasz Gollob 10, 9 Martin Vaculik 7, 10 Greg Hancock 7, 11 Scott Nicholls 7, 12 Andreas Jonsson 6, 13 Chris Harris 6, 14 Jason Crump 6, 15 Bjarne Pedersen 2, 16 Peter Ljung 0, 17 Ben Barker DNR, 18 Josh Auty DNR.
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