Australian champion Chris Holder was delighted to bounce back from being crushed on countback in Leszno by winning a rain-soaked FIM Meridian Lifts Swedish SGP in Gothenburg on Saturday night.
The meeting was abandoned after 16 races as the heavy rain which had lashed the Ullevi Stadium all evening rendered track conditions and visibility too poor to continue.
Holder was top of the scorechart with 10 points when the meeting was stopped and was level with Greg Hancock. Like the American, the Sydneysider had two heat wins and two seconds to his name.
But the Poole, Torun and Lejonen hero came out on top as he pipped the Californian to the chequered flag in a fiercely-contested heat 11.
He was also helped by the fact Swedish star Antonio Lindback, who finished third, tumbled on the last lap of heat 16 while holding third place. This would have been enough to put him atop the podium, as the Rio Rocket had won his opening three races.
Holder was more than happy to take the gold medal in these fortunate circumstances, particularly after scoring nine points at the FIM Fogo European Grand Prix in Leszno on April 30 and missing the semi-finals on countback.
He said: “You’ve got to have luck. You can’t just win without any. Fortunately it worked out well for me this time. Last time in Leszno I got done on countback. That was a bit of bad luck, but this time I won because Antonio couldn’t see.
“I’m stoked. The conditions were terrible and I had just had a great run. It worked out and I came out on top.
“I had all the gates and I just made some good decisions with the bike. I had a lot of speed, but I used my head.”
Holder was full of praise for FIM director of speedway Ole Olsen and his team for constructing a temporary track which was able to withstand 16 races despite such a heavy downpour.
He said: “The track was awesome. You’ve got to give credit to the boys who did the work. To get this many races on it with those conditions is unheard of, so you’ve got to give credit to the track people.”
Along with the bad weather, the meeting was marred by an horrific crash for three-time world champion Jason Crump in heat 10, when he spun off on turn three and landed hard on his right shoulder. This is not the one he injured badly at Belle Vue in September 2009, which dogged his 2010 World Championship challenge.
Holder was one of the first to check on his fellow countryman, who was taken to hospital by ambulance. “He wasn’t really saying too much,” the Poole-based man said. “He was in a lot of pain. Fingers crossed it’s not too bad.”
Holder’s triumph puts him fifth in the World Championship on 19 points. But defending champion Tomasz Gollob, who led the standings going into Gothenburg, remains at the summit after scoring six. He is tied on 24 points with Hancock, but the Pole takes seniority after finishing higher in the 2010 series.
Russian hotshot Emil Sayfutdinov scored eight and stands third on 22. And despite bagging just four points, European SGP winner Nicki Pedersen is still handily-placed in fourth with 21.
British No.1 Chris Harris also finished on four, claiming a second, two thirds and a last place. He is 11th in the overall standings with 11.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (AFTER TWO ROUNDS): 1 Tomasz Gollob 24, 2 Greg Hancock 24, 3 Emil Sayfutdinov 22, 4 Nicki Pedersen 21, 5 Chris Holder 19, 6 Jaroslaw Hampel 17, 7 Freddie Lindgren 17, 8 Janusz Kolodziej 17, 9 Kenneth Bjerre 12, 10 Jason Crump 11, 11 Chris Harris 11, 12 Andreas Jonsson 11, 13 Rune Holta 10, 14 Antonio Lindback 10, 15 Thomas H Jonasson 8, 16 Damian Balinski 4, 17 Artem Laguta 1, 18 Simon Gustafsson 1.
FIM MERIDIAN LIFTS SWEDISH SGP RESULT: 1 Chris Holder 10, 2 Greg Hancock 10, 3 Antonio Lindback 9, 4 Janusz Kolodziej 8, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 8, 6 Thomas H Jonasson 8, 7 Jason Crump 6, 8 Andreas Jonsson 6, 9 Tomasz Gollob 6, 10 Freddie Lindgren 6, 11 Jaroslaw Hampel 5, 12 Nicki Pedersen 4, 13 Chris Harris 4, 14 Kenneth Bjerre 2, 15 Rune Holta 1, 16 Artem Laguta 1, 17 Simon Gustafsson 1, 18 Dennis Andersson 0.