Tomasz Gollob made home advantage count to the maximum as he raced to victory in the Grand Prix of Poland this evening with a scorching unbeaten performance. But the overall world title race is still extremely close. Jason Crump leads Nicki Pedersen by one point after they finished second and third to Gollob. Tony Rickardsson crashed out early and Leigh Adams also lost ground as the pressure began to tell.

Mark Loram roared through an inside gap along the back straight in heat one to take the lead from third place and pull away to an easy victory. Home boy Jarek Hampel took the next as he pleased with compatriot Piotr Protasiewicz keeping an eye on Ryan Sullivan shutting him out all the way. A processional third heat followed and was won by Scott Nicholls. Lee Richardson chased home Greg Hancock in heat four making sure that all three Brits went through to the next stage.

Some riders that would not be getting any further came out to contest heats four and five. First or second meaning at least two more races. Third or fourth meaning packing the van earlier than they would have liked. After heat five, the first two on packing duty were Jason Lyons and Ronni Pedersen as Peter Karlsson and Bo Brehl looked forward to more speedway. IN the second eliminator, two Aussies went through (Sullivan and Wiltshire) while two Poles (Bajerski and Szomberski) did not.

Heats seven and eight saw the riders racing for a guaranteed place in the main event. Richardson and Nicholls booked theirs in heat seven with Loram and Protaseiwicz having to reply on the safety net of an eliminator next time as would Bjarne Pedersen and Max after they were outpaced by Hampel and Hancock in heat eight.

And then on to the first appearance of the "big boys" - the top eight from Prague. Home hero Tomasz Gollob simply streaked away looking fast and sure leaving Rune Holta, Jason Crump and Andreas Jonsson toiling in his wake. Tony Rickardsson, Nicki Pedersen and Leigh Adams came out in the next - first, second and fourth in the standings. They might have only been racing for gate positions but the psychology was important. Rickardsson had the edge - would he still have it for the latter stages when the big points came in to play.

Two more eliminators came round quickly with the remaining four places in the main event the prize. But disaster for Sullivan in heat eleven hitting a machine problem on the start line which would count him out and end his evening. When the tapes did rise, without Sullivan, Loram rode a fine line to just hold out the pressing Max with Karlsson bowing out. Protasiewicz got the terraces going winning heat twelve and was joined in the main event by Brehl as Wiltshire and Bjarne Pedersen became the latest casualties.

Gollob roared straight out in to the dirt scraping the fence as only he can to pull out a huge winning lead in heat thirteen. Richardson had no answer but was a safe second. Brehl and Andersen at least had a life left.

After looking so good o win his first two rides, new world under-21 champion Hampel significantly harmed his chances when rolling in to the tapes at the start of heat fourteen and they went without him. Nicki Pedersen the winner from a hard chasing Crump who had to move past Max to challenge but move safely through to touching distance of the semi-finals at least.

Adams moved smoothly on with a win in heat fifteen in which Protasiewicz reacted smartly to profit from a Nicholls mistake and claim second place to leave the Brit to sweat out an eliminator with last place man Holta.

And then the first real shock - Jonsson won heat sixteen from Hancock and Loram raced Rickardsson out of it as the five time world champion and current standings leader crossed the line at the rear and would have little time to recover as he'd be out straight away in an elimination heat where he'd need a top two finish or face seriously damaging his title ambitions.

All or nothing for Rickardsson then in heat seventeen from gate four. Nicholls got away with Rickardsson ridden out of it and although he moved past Brehl in to third place Hampel was too far gone. Nothing Rickardsson could do about it and in the biggest shock of the GP season he tumbled out with just six points and with it possibly any hope of retaining his title. Advantage Pedersen, Crump and Adams.

Loram showed up well again on a track that suits his style to come away with the next eliminator and bag a race for the semi-final. Max was set to join him until disaster struck him on the last lap in the form of a mechanical failure. Holta said "thanks" as he was handed second place and another race at least.

Was the pressure telling on the standings leaders - Crump and Adams left for dead by Hancock and Rickardsson in heat nineteen. Gollob harried Hancock throughout and moved smartly outside the American on the last lap just as Hancock hit problems and came to a halt in a shower of sparks meaning Crump was promoted to second and a nailed down semi-final place but Adams and Hancock would have to go again.

Then Nicki Pedersen became the next of the big four to apparently not be up to taking his big chance. He blew it in heat nineteen managing a sluggish third place with a rear view of Richardson and Protasiewicz making the semis. At this point, of the leading championship quartet, Crump was the only one of them through to the semi-final stage. Rickardsson already out and Pedersen and Adams looking at elimination in their next races. The world championship picture had been repainted in the space of four heats - approximately four and a half minutes of track action.

Adams kept his cool, started fast and controlled heat twenty-one from the front to keep himself in the title race and join Crump in the semis along with Nicholls who gamely fought off Jonsson for second place. Pedersen was next up and needed at least a second against a tough looking line up of Hampel, Loram and Hancock. But he kept his nerve to take the heat. The young Pole Hampel followed him home as Hancock and Loram tumbled out.

Just the semis and the grand final left and three of the big four left racing for the GP points that could make them world champion. Crump, Pedersen and Adams could still all make the final - but would they. It was by no means certain. The draw put Adams in the first semi up against the trio of Poles. Crump and Pedersen would contest the second semi with Richardson and Nicholls.

Adams saw his chances disappear after he was unable to make any impression as Gollob helped himself to another huge win with Protasiewicz claiming second for a final place. So, was the 2003 championship race becoming a straight fight between Pedersen and Crump. It looked that way as they comfortably finished first and second in their semi each now knowing that whoever finished ahead of the other in the final would go to the last GP of the season in Hamar in pole position as standings leader.

However they had to give best to Gollob who again scorched away to win on his home GP and complete an unbeaten performance - a rare occurrence in any GP. Gollob thoroughly deserved his night of glory. Behind him, Crump worked overtime to block some significant Pedersen pressure with Protasiewicz a close fourth.

So - it all depends on what happens in Hamar on October 4th. After this night of drama Crump leads Pedersen by just one point - 133 to 132 - with Rickardsson on 121 and needing a miracle. Adams has 118 points and can still be world champion but would need something considerably in excess of that miracle.

One GP remains and it's still all to race for.

Grand Prix of Poland, Bydgoszcz:

Result
Tomasz Gollob
Jason Crump
Nicki Pedersen
Piotr Protaseiwicz

Scorers from Bydgoszcz
Tomas Gollob 25
Jason Crump 20
Nicki Pedersen 18
Piotr Protasiewicz 16
Scott Nicholls 13
Jarek Hampel 13
Leigh Adams 11
Lee Richardson 11
Greg Hancock 8
Rune Holta 8
Mark Loram 7
Andreas Jonsson 7
Tony Rickardsson 6
Hans Andersen 6
Mikael Max 5
Bo Brhek 5
Bjarne Pedersen 4
Peter Karlsson 4
Ryan Sullivan 3
Todd Wiltshire 3
Jason Lyons 2
Rafal Szombierski 2
Tomasz Bajerski 1
Ronni Pedersen 1

Overall standings after Bydgoszcz
Jason Crump 133
Nicki Pedersen 132
Tony Rickardsson 121
Leigh Adams 118
Tomasz Gollob 100
Greg Hancock 96
Scott Nicholls 89
Ryan Sullivan 87
Rune Holta 85
Andreas Jonsson 60
Lukas Dryml 58
Piotr Protasiewicz 58
Mikael Max 49
Tomasz Bajerski 49
Lee Richardson 38
Hans Andersen 35
Bjarne Pedersen 33
Mark Loram 27
Todd Wiltshire 27
Peter Karlsson 26
Bo Brhel 25
Jason Lyons 25
Krzysztof Cegielski 15
Ronni Pedersen 15
Tomas Topinka 13
Jarek Hampel 13
David Howe 8
Peter Ljung 7
Roman Povazhny 6
Matej Zagar 5
David Ruud 4
Sebastian Ulamek 4
Izak Santej 4
Charlie Gjedde 4
Robert Dados 3
Rafal Kurmanski 3
Ales Dryml 3
Simon Stead 3
Sandor Tihanyi 2
Joonas Kylmakorpi 2
Rafal Szombierski 2
Chris Harris 1
Denis Stojs 1
Josef Franc 1
Magnus Zetterstrom 1
Jesper Jensen 1

 

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