Triple world champion Jason Crump bagged his first Grand Prix win in two years in Copenhagen on Saturday, but admitted a favourite for this season’s world title race is “harder to pick than a broken nose.”
The Australian triumphed in the FIM Dansk Metal Danish Speedway Grand Prix at PARKEN Stadium after fending off Fredrik Lindgren and Greg Hancock to win the final. Britain’s Chris Harris put a dismal start to 2012 behind him to finish fourth and claim a welcome 10 World Championship points.
But the night belonged to Crump, who collected his first SGP gold medal since he won the FIM European Grand Prix at Polish track Leszno on April 24, 2010 – two years and 46 days ago. The Bristol-born rider has been in blistering form in this year’s series. He has reached the semi-finals of all five rounds and finished second in Prague and fourth in Auckland.
He is second in the World Championship on 73 points and trails defending champion Hancock by just two in the race for top spot. With Nicki Pedersen eight behind Crump on 65 and Chris Holder 12 adrift on 61 in fourth, this season’s title race remains well and truly open. And, after watching Lindgren move up to sixth place on 52 points by backing up his victory in Gothenburg on May 26 with a silver medal, Crump knows he has to be on his guard.
He said: “At the moment, there are four, five or six guys who are capable of winning. Freddie threw his hat into the ring in Gothenburg. He’s probably on his way to joining us in the fight as well. It’s good for speedway to have so many guys capable of winning.”
He added: “I’m still in the championship and we’re nearly halfway through. If I’m in this position with a few to go, I’ll be even happier. I’d love to say I’m going to get a handle on it, but Greg was super consistent last year and he’s still being consistent this year. Who do you write off out of the top four or five at the moment? It’s harder to pick than a broken nose. It needs one or a couple of us to start winning some GPs and try and get away. I don’t feel I’m away, but I feel this was a big step in the right direction for me.”
Points make prizes in the World Championship, but Grand Prix wins come as a major confidence lift and Crump was ecstatic to end his agonising wait for his 23rd SGP triumph.
He said: “It was really important. The Grand Prix can be disappointing and frustrating. When you win one, you remember why you go through all the aggravation, hard work and all the disappointments. It was so good to hear the Australian national anthem. I think I’ve been riding well enough. I’ve been knocking on the door and this year I have been doing better than last year. It’s just nice to get a win. Whether you deserve one and whether you get one are two different things. You’ve got to do it on the track.”
Crump admits he was given “a bit of a talking to” by his uncle and mechanic Drew Street midway through the Copenhagen heats, which inspired him to end his five rides with two race wins and book a semi-final berth. The rider was joined by his son Seth at the post-meeting press conference and his wife Mel and daughter Mia are also regular fixtures in the SGP paddock.
Hancock brought his sons Wilbur and Bill and to the press conference it’s clear family is important to speedway’s finest.
Crump said: “It’s great for the riders when everything is going great – you don’t need so much support around you. But when it’s not quite right, it’s nice to know the people who mean the most to you are there as well. I guess we’re all very lucky. Freddie just needs to find a wife and a couple of kids and then we can all have our kids here!”
Lindgren was delighted to build on his maiden SGP win in Gothenburg with another rostrum finish.
He said: “I’m really pleased with the last two meetings. Backing up the win with another podium is really good. We worked really hard. I wasn’t the quickest to start with, but the team finally got the bikes going with me. It was up to me to stay focused and do the business on the track.”
Hancock was pleased to cling on to top spot in the World Championship, but was gutted to have his fairytale ending in Copenhagen ruined by one of his oldest rivals. He said: “Leading the standings right now is great. I’d rather be here than anywhere else. But it’s going to be a run to the end. It doesn’t matter to me. As long as I’m still in this spot at the end I’m happy. Things were working well and we got to grips with things early on in the night. I set up what I thought was going to be the perfect final for myself, but Jason smoked me out of the start.”
The meeting was marred by a nasty crash involving Danish star Kenneth Bjerre and world No.3 Jaroslaw Hampel in heat one. While Bjerre walked away, Hampel required treatment for a dislocated ankle, which was put back into place. It is unclear how long he will spend on the sidelines.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Greg Hancock 75, 2 Jason Crump 73, 3 Nicki Pedersen 65, 4 Chris Holder 61, 5 Tomasz Gollob 52, 6 Fredrik Lindgren 52, 7 Emil Sayfutdinov 48, 8 Jaroslaw Hampel 46, 9 Andreas Jonsson 38, 10 Antonio Lindback 34, 11 Bjarne Pedersen 29, 12 Peter Ljung 29, 13 Chris Harris 27, 14 Kenneth Bjerre 25, 15 Hans Andersen 24, 16 Thomas H Jonasson 11, 17 Josef Franc 9, 18 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 7, 19 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 20 Mikkel B Jensen 4, 21 Peter Kildemand 2, 22 Jason Bunyan 1.
DANISH SGP POINTS: 1 Jason Crump 18, 2 Fredrik Lindgren 15, 3 Greg Hancock 17, 4 Chris Harris 10, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 11, 6 Bjarne Pedersen 10, 7 Nicki Pedersen 9, 8 Chris Holder 9, 9 Andreas Jonsson 8, 10 Peter Ljung 8, 11 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 12 Kenneth Bjerre 5, 13 Mikkel B Jensen 4, 14 Hans Andersen 4, 15 Tomasz Gollob 3, 16 Antonio Lindback 3, 17 Peter Kildemand 2, 18 Jaroslaw Hampel 0.