The Finest Event in Motorsport
This weekend, one of the biggest motorsport events in Great Britain takes place as a lot of noise arrives on its annual visit. It is undoubtadly the best event on the calendar, reaching impressive crowds which improve year on year. The British drivers will be trying to steal the limelight away for this one special occasion.
It is the British Grand Prix of Speedway in Cardiff.
Sixteen of the best mad men in the world will be gunning around the short Millenium Stadium track, including the ever popular Australian Jason Crump, the even more popular Greg Hancock (the Rubens Barrichello of the sport) and three British drivers in Chris Harris, Tai Woffinden and wildcard Scott Nicholls.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of speedway at Cardiff, moving away from Coventry Stadium back in 2001. Each year has provided some of the most special moments, possibly most memorable was back in 2007. The scene, Chris Harris in his debut year of Speedway Grand Prix, someone who had already picked up his first podium in only his second race in Wroclaw. He made it to the final, along with him was Leigh Adams (a quick rider with eight grand prix wins to his name), Greg Hancock (1995 World Champion and Grand Prix regular) and Jason Crump (the World Champion at the time, best rider out there). Here is a video of that race (with totally unbiased commentary from Nigel Pearson and Kelvin Tatum):
Last year certainly lived up for excitement, while Jason Crump recorded a perfect race (7 wins from 7 rides, totalling 24 points). Elsewhere, Scott Nicholls and fiesty Emil Sayfutdinov (who had previous altercations with Nicki Pedersen) had a bit of afters at the end of Heat 5.
This year should once again be interesting. Into this race, Tomasz Gollob has come off back to back wins and heads the Championship by just three points to Jaroslaw Hampel. Nineteen behind is Kenneth Bjerre, who up until recently looked like a strong contender. However he failed to make it to the semi finals in his last two outings and has the claws of Crump right behind him.
Traditionally British riders do well at Cardiff, in recent editions at least one rider has made it to the semi final (and of course Harris winning in 2007). Chris Harris is having an decent year Grand Prix wise, 11th in the standings but just points away from Nicki Pedersen in 8th (the top 8 are guaranteed automatic qualification into the next seasons Grand Prix). Harris has already been on the podium once and there is a strong chance he will do it again. The second regular British Grand Prix rider is Tai Woffinden, and those who know me know I’m a big fan of his. Woffinden is only 19 and has so far found Grand Prix racing as a steep learning curve. However an impressive performance in Poland saw him reach the semi finals for the first time. The wildcard for this event is Scott Nicholls (there are 15 regular riders as well as a wildcard for each race). Previously, Nicholls has been in the Grand Prix series since 2002, but a poor 2009 campaign both for his clubs and at Grand Prix saw him take a step back for a while. Performances have improved for Nicholls, a better showing for the Ipswich Witches and 2nd place in the British Championship to qualify for this event.
There are a lot of dangerous riders to look out for, Emil Sayfutdinov is injured after breaking his left arm, his replacement Piotr Protasiewicz has so far left me unimpressed, with just 5 points from ten rides (points structure for each heat is 3-2-1-0). On the other hand, Jason Crump, who seemed to be struggling from a injured shoulder from last season for most of this season has still looked strong and is worrying of what he could achieve when fully fit. He finished 4th last time out in Torun and is always strong when it comes to Cardiff. Look out for him.
The strong bet for the win though must be down to two of the Polish riders, Tomasz Gollob and Jaroslaw Hampel. Gollob has been on the podium in the last four meetings, winning two, Hampel been on for the last three winning one. Both are on a tremendous run of form and could be a strong bet for the win.
I reckon however that Greg Hancock could spring a surprise. So far this season, ‘Herbie’ Hancock has been poor, not up to his usual self and is languishing down in twelth. But when Britain comes along he is usually strong and I think for the first time this season, he will make it onto the podium.
So there we are, the British Grand Prix of speedway is on Saturday evening, with coverage on Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports HD2 (are you reading Bernie?). It is the third most attended motorsport event in Britain, the atmosphere is usually fantastic. It would be a shame to miss.
Posted on July 5, 2010, in Speedway and tagged Chris Harris, Emil Sayfutdinov, Jaroslaw Hampel, Jason Crump, Scott Nicholls, Speedway, Tai Woffinden, Tomasz Gollob. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.