Triple world champion Jason Crump admits “I’ve been waiting for Saturday for about four months” as he prepares for the first ever FIM Buckley Systems New Zealand SGP in Auckland.
The action gets underway at 4pm local time (4am BST) and the meeting could not come soon enough for the Australian legend.
Crump spent a record-equalling decade in the World Championship’s top three from 2001 to 2010, but had to make do with fourth place last year.
He will be determined to get back on the rostrum this season and is chomping at the bit to get his challenge started at Western Springs.
The Bristol-born man has had the shortest flight of all the 16 riders in the main field, having jetted in from Australia, where he spent his off-season. So he is fresh and ready for the first SGP round staged in the Southern Hemisphere since the 2002 FIM Australian Grand Prix.
He said: “It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to race on this track. I’ve been waiting for Saturday for about four months, so let’s get it on.
“My testing has gone okay. I can still slide! It would have been nice to have some meetings, but I thought I’d be better off staying at home in Aussie rather than going back to Europe.
“It has been nice spending some time in Aussie over the summer and enjoying the weather. So having the first Grand Prix just a three-hour flight from home is pretty cool.
“I feel good, but we probably all do. We’re all ready to race and everybody wants to win. But the talking stops on Saturday and we’ll find out who has had the best pre-season and who will be the guys to catch.”
World champion Greg Hancock shares Crump’s desire to get the new campaign underway and hopes the sport’s resurgence in New Zealand will help him realise his dream of a US Grand Prix.
He said: “Coming to this place and taking the sport more global is huge. It’s so good for speedway around the world and in the US as well.
“Bringing the series down here is definitely a good thing for places like America and Australia. Hopefully it can branch off there as well.”
Hancock added: “For the last month I’ve just wanted to come here and I’ve been tired of waiting. I’m pretty happy to be here.
“We all start from zero and I’m gunning for the world title again. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.
“I have to say this place is amazing. As soon as I got here from the airport, I tried to bribe (FIM director of speedway) Ole (Olsen) with a couple of bucks to let me have a go on the track, but he wasn’t going for it!”
BSI Speedway managing director Paul Bellamy is delighted to realise his ambition of taking the sport outside of Europe and paid tribute to everyone who has made the event possible.
He said: “This has been going on for a number of years now and it wasn’t until Springs promoter Bill Buckley came to Cardiff in June that this thing really started taking shape.
“Since then it has been a lot of hard work, logistical challenges, late evenings and early mornings in Europe talking to Bill’s team, but I think it has certainly come together.
“Everybody has stepped up to the challenge. The track will speak for itself – Ole and Bill have done a fabulous job on that. They’ve given the riders a great platform to compete on.
“We’ve got the top riders in the world here at Western Springs competing in what isn’t just one of the best motorsports in the world. To my mind, speedway is one of the best sports in the world. If you haven’t seen it before, you are in for a real treat on Saturday.”