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Italian GP: Pedersen starts where he left off.

Nicki Pedersen has started the 2007 Speedway Grand Prix as he left off in 2006 - with a hugely impressive victory.

Denmark's Pedersen was unbeaten in his seven rides in the FIM Meridian Lifts Italian Grand Prix and at times made it look easy when it most certainly was anything but.

Pedersen says that his preparation for the new season has been perfect and that he has worked harder than ever during the winter to be ready for the challenge of regaining the World title he won in 2004.

All that effort paid a handsome dividend in the opening round. He stormed through his five qualifying heats and was never headed in either the semi-final or final.

Greg Hancock was the only rider to match Pedersen during the early stages and the veteran American showed all his usual guts and determination to first get to the final and then overhaul Poland's Wieslaw Jagus for second place.

"It was a tough night," admitted Hancock. "The track was tricky at times but they made a good job of watering it when they did. Nicki was the only rider who looked at ease all the time and he is setting the pace right now."

Pedersen countered: "It is early days but I am very happy with the way things went. I am much fitter than I was last year but there is a long way to go. And we know that Jason (Crump) will still have a big say."

Crump, never quite at his fastest on the big Lonigo circuit, made it through to the final but under the new scoring system did not add to his 12 points.

Pedersen took 24 points from Lonigo with Hancock five behind on 19. Crump, though disappointed, was not too downhearted with 10 more rounds to go. Leigh Adams again showed his class and tenacity but, as so often last year,
couldn't manage to get beyond the semi-final stage on his 36th birthday.

Tomasz Gollob was another beaten semi-finalist but, like his fellow Pole Jarek Hampel, will go to round two in Wroclaw in good spirits.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Nicki Pedersen feels the heat [Pic credit: News Pics Ltd]
Steve Johnston [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Steve Johnston [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Top scorer Krzysztof Kasprzak leads once more joined by team mate Christian Hefenbrock [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Leigh Lanham show boats after a good night`s work at 2nd string [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Adam Shields in the pits with team manager Jon Cook [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Captain Paul Hurry watches the sun set before the meeting [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
The impressive Christian Hefenbrock leads team mate Chris Neath in heat 2 [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Richard Hall keeps going as team mate Daniel King hits the deck [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Top scorer Krzysztof Kasprzak leads once more [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Top scorer Krzysztof Kasprzak leads Hans Andersen in heat 5 [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Heat 10 and Iversen, Shields, Hurry and Swiderski all head into turn 1 [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Christian Hefenbrock leads Poole`s Piotr Swist in heat 2 [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Photo finish - An epic heat 5 battle between Krzysztof Kasprzak and world champion Jason Crump resulted in this dash for the line, with the World Champion being pipped by our own hero Kasprzak [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Adam Shields heads between the Poole pairing of Bjarne Pedersen and Edward Kennett [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
World champion Jason Crump and the hammers` Krzysztof Kasprzak fight for the lead of heat 15 [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Leigh Lanham is interviewed by Sky Sports [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]
Krzysztof Kasprzak [Pic credit: Matt Sprake/NEWSPICS LTD]

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