In 2002, Ryan Sullivan's season ended with exclusion at the starting tapes. Tonight in Bydgoszcz, Poland, 'Flyin Ryan's' brave challenge for the 2003 world championship was over when a mechanical failure just prior to the start of his third race saw him excluded by the referee.

Time, unfortunately, was finally up for Sullivan. When the referee sounds the 2-minute warning signal for all four riders to get to the starting line, there is no going back, even when, in Ryan's case, your bike decides to die just seconds before the off. Sullivan has described his injury-plagued 2003 season as a roller coaster. Alas, tonight in Bydgoszcz, his roller coaster didn't reach anywhere near the heights that had brought him two Grands Prix victories this season.

In Heat 2, on a disappointing, slick track, Sullivan couldn't quite catch new World Under-21 champion Jaroslaw Hampel from Poland, but in an incredibly tight race, also lost second place to another Pole Piotr Protasiewicz. Third place thrust the likeable Aussie straight into a Heat 6 eliminator. Again, against two Poles he survived, tucking in behind fellow countryman Todd Wiltshire, successfully keeping out the tenacious challenges from the home riders.

But in Heat 11 - another eliminator, when he was expected to come through against England's Mark Loram and Swedes Mikael Max and Peter Karlsson, Sullivan's cursed season took a new twist. For once, the only injury to report was to his bike, which the deeply frustrated Melbourne-born rider shoved to the ground when he found himself without power, and excluded from the race.

Despite scoring just 3 points, Flyin' Ryan still holds a top ten place, which gives him automatic qualification to next year's Grand Prix - but roll on 2004, when surely, Ryan Sullivan will return - with better fortune. He's used up all his bad luck.



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