Bikes: European SGP

JASON Crump served up a vintage performance to establish a nine-point lead at the head of the World Championship leaderboard with victory in the European Grand Prix at Leszno.

The Aussie was fast and focused from the outset, and was too good for Tomasz Gollob, Andreas Jonsson and Greg Hancock in the final to claim the 19th GP victory of his career.

Normal order was partly restored after the surprise outcome in the opening Grand Prix in Prague, with the four finalists having previously shared 44 GP wins between them, though rising Russian young gun Emil Sayfutdinov did reach the semi-finals before bowing out, despite a crunching fall in his fourth ride.

Early GP leader Fredrik Lindgren dropped to seventh overall after mustering only two points, and his disappointment must have been shared by Leszno track specialist Leigh Adams.

The experienced Aussie, in his 14th season with the Leszno club and last year’s winner at the inaugural GP at the Alfred Smoczyk Stadium, missed the cut for the semis after being excluded from his last ride.

He had ridden his socks off on a mostly unaccommodating track to stay in the hunt, grappling with Lindgren for a solitary point in Heat 5, and then passing Grzegorz Walasek and Gollob to win Heat 9.

Adams was jousting hard with Kenneth Bjerre for second place behind Crump in Heat 17 when he located some unwanted grip on the apex of the third and fourth turns and helped the Dane off. Prague winner Sayfutdinov, who was at the back, took full advantage to finish second in the re-run and book his place in the semi-finals on nine points.

Crump and Hancock met early on in Heat 4, and although the American took the flag for the first of three wins on the bounce, Crump looked ominously threatening.

They finished the qualifying tied on 13 points, Hancock’s highlight coming when he cleverly picked his way through traffic on the second bend to win Heat 11, with Jonsson close behind on 12 points and Gollob ending on 11.

Jonsson was mysteriously allowed back into Heat 19, which he won, after ploughing through the tapes, and Gollob recovered well from a last place in Heat 7 when he suffered a machine problem while side-by-side with Nicki Pedersen.

The reigning World Champion, riding just 11 days after breaking a thumb while racing in the Swedish League, won his first outing impressively and had gleaned six points from three starts when he lined up on gate two in Heat 15.

He tried to clamp down on Grzegorz Walasek entering the first turn, but only succeeded in leaning into the Pole and was thrown out of control, collecting the innocent Sayfutdinov on his outside.

The exciting Russian, who had gone from first to last in Heat 3 after being moved wide by Gollob, took a painful-looking fall, but despite Pedersen’s protestations, Hungarian referee Istvan Darago excluded the Dane, though a second place in his final outing meant he was one of four riders on eight points, with Rune Holta missing out on countback.

Hancock and Gollob tore away in the first semi-final, with wild-card Jarek Hampel salvaging third place off Sebastian Ulamek, who had earlier won a couple of races in fine style. Hampel had also repassed Crump to win Heat 16.

But Pedersen had no answer to Crump and Jonsson in the second semi, though he fought hard to overhaul Sayfutdinov for third place in the run-in to the line.

In the final, Crump, having chosen the same gate three as for his semi-final, took control imperiously from the tapes, with Hancock squeezed out as Gollob chased down the Aussie, with Jonsson in third place.

Lower down the order, Hans Andersen mirrored his opening Grand Prix in Prague in underachieving with six points, while Walasek will rue tossing away the lead in Heat 9 when he rode too wide and finished third.

And it was another miserable night for the British pair of Chris Harris and Scott Nicholls.

Harris collected five points and Nicholls just one, when he outmuscled Harris in his final ride. It leaves the British No.1 rooted to the foot of the standings with just five points from the opening two GPs.

FIM European SGP scores: Jason Crump (Australia) 22, Tomasz Gollob (Poland) 17, Andreas Jonsson (Sweden) 16, Greg Hancock (USA) 16, Jarek Hampel (Poland) 9, Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia) 9, Nicki Pedersen (Denmark) 9, Rune Holta (Poland) 8, Leigh Adams (Australia) 6, Hans Andersen (Denmark) 6, Kenneth Bjerre (Denmark) 5, Grzegorz Walasek (Poland) 5, Chris Harris (Great Britain) 5, Fredrik Lindgren (Sweden) 2, Scott Nicholls (Great Britain) 1.

World Championship standings: Crump 36, Jonsson 27, Hancock 26, Sayftudinov 26, Gollob 24, Pedersen 21, Lindgren 21, Adams 19, Bjerre 15, Ulamek 13, Andersen 12, Holta 11, Harris 11, Walasek 11, *Hampel 9, Nicholls 5, *Matej Kus (Czech Republic) 1.

*denotes wild-cards.

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