Triple world champion Jason Crump has announced his retirement from the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series.
The 37-year-old, who will continue racing in the leagues, makes his final World Championship appearance in the FIM Torun SGP of Poland at the Marian Rose Motoarena on October 6.
Crump goes down as the most successful rider in Australian history having lifted the world title in 2004, 2006 and 2009. He also led his country to FIM Speedway World Cup glory in 2001 and 2002, as well as winning the old World Team Cup in 1999.
The two-time Australian champion equalled five-time champion Ove Fundin’s record of 10 straight seasons on the World Championship rostrum between 2001 and 2010.
Crump, winner of 23 SGP rounds, admits he has reached his pinnacle in the series, but he is pleased to have continued competing with the best all the way to the end after reaching his 77th career final in Vojens on Saturday.
He said: “I feel I still can offer league speedway the best of Jason Crump. I still firmly believe I can win races and lead from the front.
“But I’ve had my x-factor moment in World Championship racing, hit the giddy heights and now it’s for others to enjoy a new era without me as part of the series.”
Crump added: “This is a decision I have made with my family some time ago. I am not here to steal anyone’s thunder and I believe by announcing this today, it will allow the world champion to enjoy their rightful place with all the headlines in a fortnight.
“After 12 rounds and a tough series, whoever wins the overall World Championship in Torun deserves all the plaudits.
“I am extremely proud of my record in the Grand Prix and have gone into every single World Championship meeting believing I could win.
“This is a tough, unforgiving series and I would like to think that I have always been a contender.
“Although I am not at the Grand Prix series summit with one round remaining, I have won a round in Copenhagen this year and have made finals throughout and made my presence felt.”
JC leaves the SGP series with Australian hopes in very safe hands. Chris Holder leads the World Championship by two points going into the Torun round on his Polish Ekstraliga home track. And many are tipping Darcy Ward to join him in the SGP field sooner rather than later.
Crump said: “When I first entered the World Championship arena, I was fortunate to have some outstanding Aussie compatriots like Leigh Adams and Craig Boyce, who were durable opponents but huge inspirations on and off the track.
“I leave the series with Chris Holder on the brink of star status and fellow Aussie Darcy Ward ready to step on to the GP stage. I have no doubt they will lead the new generation on track with style.
“I feel privileged to have played a part in the early part of Chris’ career and of course I would like nothing better than for him to be the next Australian world champion after me.”
He added: “I have been racing bikes a lot longer than most of the riders in the Grand Prix. But I want a new breed to enjoy what I have been involved in for nearly two decades.
“And I want them to go into the series all believing, like me, that they can win. From the moment I got on a bike my goal was to be world champion. The fact I was lucky enough to enjoy the feeling three times is something I will never forget.
“I’ve had my time and been one of the few to reach the pinnacle. Now it’s an opportunity for others to take the stage and enjoy the limelight.”
Crump paid tribute to those who have helped make his World Championship dreams a reality.
“I have had the best sponsors and made many great friends along the way so I count myself so fortunate,” Crump said.
“In particular my wife, Melody and my uncle Drew who have only missed a handful of Grand Prix meetings between them. Without all of these supporters there is no way I could have achieved the high standards, which I have been able to maintain from my first GP 17 years ago to my final meeting at Torun in two weeks time.”
BSI Speedway managing director Paul Bellamy was quick to pay tribute to one of the SGP series’ all-time greats.
He said: “Jason has been an inspirational servant to the sport – a true sportsman and gentleman on and off the track.
“He has always shown the highest professionalism in our dealings with him and has set a shining example to the riders hoping to follow him and lift the World Championship trophy.
“We’re all going to miss Jason and his family around the pits and paddock. But we wish them well in the next chapter of their lives and they will always be welcome at SGP events.”
Crump’s retirement means the rider who finishes ninth in the SGP standings will be guaranteed a spot in the 2013 competition. The place is currently occupied by Andreas Jonsson and Hans Andersen trails him by 20 points in 10th.
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