28 August 2005
Polish GP: It's number six for Rickardsson.
Tony Rickardsson enhanced his reputation as the greatest speedway rider of the modern era when he was crowned 2005 World Champion at Bydgoszcz in Poland on Saturday night.
The sensational 35-year-old Swede, needing only four points in the FIM Pentel Polish GP to complete the formality of a record-equalling sixth title, duly obliged with a win in heat three and a third place in heat six.
He has now equalled the feat of Kiwi legend Ivan Mauger in winning a sixth World crown, and has won the GP series five times in the last eight years.
Rickardsson, who missed out on extending his run of consecutive final appearances when he failed to make the last eight on the night, admitted: “It is a fantastic feeling and I am just so happy. This has been my best season ever and I am loving what I am doing.
“It was hard to keep my focus after the title was won. I was at the tapes waiting for the green light with a big smile on my face! I really had to concentrate in my last three rides.”
Rickardsson ran a last in his first race as 2005 World Champion, and a third place in his final ride meant he missed out on the semi-finals - for the first time in 12 GPs - when Great Britain's Lee Richardson won heat 20. Richardson tied on eight points with Rickardsson and fellow Brit Scott Nicholls, but qualified by virtue of his two wins and one second place.
The Swindon rider, who had switched bikes after starting the night with two last places, won his semi-final, and finished runner-up in the final - his best ever GP performance - when local hero Tomasz Gollob won in Bydgoszcz for the fourth successive year.
Gollob became the first rider in GP history to win four consecutive meetings at the same venue, and once again he served up some spectacular action for the partisan fans inside a packed Polonia Stadium. He dropped two points in the qualifying rounds, to Leigh Adams in heat 11 when he produced a wide outside swoop to drive from fourth to second, and Richardson in heat 20.
Gollob, who lifted himself from 11th overall to seventh with his 25-point haul, said: “I love riding at Bydgoszcz, but there is always a lot of pressure on me. I used a Jawa engine specially tuned for this track rather than a GM and it was a great night for me.”
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