Hans Andersen may have come out on top of the Czech Grand Prix in Prague, but the night belonged, once again, to Jason Crump, who scored enough points to make himself mathematically certain of a second world title.
Ironically, the Australian wasn't around to celebrate his triumph in the night's final, having been knocked out at the semi stage, but already had enough of an advantage over a luckless Greg Hancock to ensure that he followed up his 2004 title with a second after a year of domination to rival anything multiple champion Tony Rickardsson has enjoyed.
With Rickardsson absent, the Prague final saw an unexpected line-up, with wild card Andersen taking the tapes alongside Antonio Lindback, Matej Zagar and Jarek Hampel. The Dane, who already has one GP win under his belt this season, had been one of the riders of the meeting, with twelve points from his five rides, but made sure of his place in the final by winning the second semi, before going on to lead from start to finish in the main event.
His three rivals all looked possibilities for second, but the honour eventually fell to Zagar, who claimed his best-ever GP result ahead of Lindback and the unlucky Hampel, who had pushed Andersen hard in the previous round.
Although Crump exited ahead of expectation, Hancock was unable to do anything about his title chances as his night went from bad to worse. Mechanical problems had hampered his point-scoring efforts early on, and the American was then excluded from another race for touching the tapes, a fate that also befell another former world champion, Nicki Pedersen. The Dane, who was also thrown out for felling Ryan Sullivan during the heats, had to settle for tenth on the night, with Hancock a lowly 13th.
Leigh Adams matched Andersen's haul through the heats, but then slowed during his semi and failed to make the final, while Andreas Jonsson and Tomasz Gollob both also failed to feature. Crump was credited with fifth place at the Marketa Stadium, heading an Aussie trio ahead of Adams and Sullivan.
Crump's 14-point total pushed him 71 ahead of Hancock's 99, with Adams a further seven markers adrift and Pedersen and Jonsson tied for fourth on 91. Andersen, meanwhile, saw his season's tally rise to 88 points on the back of two wins and a podium in four appearances, marking him out as one to watch when Crump returns to defend his crown in 2007.
Hans Andersen 25, Matej Zagar 20, Antonio Lindback 18, Jarek Hampel 16, Jason Crump 14, Leigh Adams 12, Ryan Sullivan 9, Niels-Kristian Iversen 8, Andreas Jonsson 7, Nicki Pedersen 6, Tomasz Gollob 6, Piotr Protasiewicz 5, Greg Hancock 4, Lubos Tomicek (res) 4, Lee Richardson 3, Bjarne Pedersen 2, Adrian Rymel 2, Zdenek Simota (res) 0.
Jason Crump 170, Greg Hancock 99, Leigh Adams 92, Nicki Pedersen 91, Andreas Jonsson 91, Hans Andersen 88, Jarek Hampel 79, Matej Zagar 78, Tomasz Gollob 72, Bjarne Pedersen 68, Scott Nicholls 67, Antonio Lindback 66, Niels-Kristian Iversen 44, Tony Rickardsson 41, Lee Richardson 37, Piotr Protasiewicz 23.