Ryan Sullivan is struggling to be fit for this Saturday's (October 4th) final Grand Prix round of the World Speedway Championship - but for once it has nothing to do with the broken bones or burns that he's endured all season. To round off a pretty rotten year for Flyin' Ryan, he now has a blood infection from a serious bout of food poisoning.

Exhausted, almost unable to move for the past 48 hours, yet Sullivan says he will definitely be riding under the bright lights of the fantastic indoor Viking Stadium in Hamar - even though he has little to actually race for. Unable to claim a place on the final podium, but assured of a Top Ten position (for automatic qualification to the 2004 GP), even if he is eliminated early, the 28-year-old says he may still have a small say in who becomes world champion.

Mathematically, titleholder Tony Rickardsson from Sweden can still do it, but realistically, it's a straight, and possibly a literal fight between Australia's Jason Crump (133 points) and Denmark's Nicki Pedersen (132 points). No prizes for guessing that Sullivan would still very much like to be that first Aussie to win a world speedway title since 1952, but if or how he can play his part in the destiny of this year's title is anyone's guess.

Apart from the incapacitating effects of some very iffy food items, Sullivan's incident-packed season took on another dimension after he'd played the starring role in the league title success of his Polish club side Czestochowa. To put it into perspective about just how crazy Polish folk are about speedway, Sullivan was spotted in town after the final race meeting by a huge mob of fans, who surrounded his van, pulled him out and began stripping him of several items of clothing for souvenirs.

"I scrambled up on to the top of the van to try and calm things down", said Sullivan", but around 20 to 30 fans climbed up with me! Then they started jumping up and down, and next thing I knew, the roof of my van caved in"!

Not quite the same displays of fervour were seen in Sweden, where Sullivan also steered his club side Kaparna to league title glory, although nonetheless, a great achievement in such a close-fought competition. In England, his club side Peterborough reached the play-offs, and Sullivan also recently won the 55th staging of the highly prestigious Czech Golden Helmet meeting.

With two Grands Prix victories this season under his belt, Sullivan has had a truly extraordinary 2003, but for somebody who is so determined to become world champion, he can't wait for it to be over, albeit he might not be able to resist playing a cameo role in Saturday's explosive showdown.

 

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