Former World Speedway Champion Sam Ermolenko and America's elder statesman of speedway, John Cook, were among eight riders who advanced on Sunday from the Overseas Final qualifying round for the 2002 World Speedway Grand Prix Series.

Ermolenko, 40, the 1993 World Champion, finished third in the event after taking a runoff victory over upcoming British star Scott Nicholls. Cook, 42, placed fifth. Both riders now move on to the August 11 Intercontinental Final, where they will join four British and two Australian riders along with the best eight finishers from Sunday's Scandinavian Final.

Ermolenko is a California native who now lives in England, and Cook splits his time between Roseville, California, and Sweden, where he is a regular in the Swedish Elite League.

Ermolenko was the defending winner in the event, but the class of the field on Sunday was 30-year-old Australian Jason Lyons, who was undefeated in his five races for a perfect score of 15 points. Former World Champion Gary Havelock, who had the home track advantage at Poole, where he races for the Poole Pirates of the British Speedway League, was a solid second with 13 points. Ermolenko and Nicholls were tied with 11 points, and Ermolenko comfortably won a runoff heat for the final position on the podium.

Riders failing to qualify included 20-year-old Billy Janniro of Vallejo, California, a British League rookie who scored four points and placed 13th; and Bobby Hedden of Folsom, California, who was shut out and placed 16th.

Only six riders from the Intercontinental Final, which will be held in Vastervik, Sweden, will advance to the Grand Prix Challenge, which is the final hurdle in qualifying for the 2002 World Speedway Grand Prix Series. The Grand Prix Challenge will be held in October in Slovenia, with only six of 24 riders earning automatic transfers to the 2002 Speedway Grand Prix Series.

Two Americans - former world champs Greg Hancock and Billy Hamill - are currently among the world's 24 elite riders contesting the 2001 Speedway Grand Prix Series.

2001 Overseas final results - June 17, 2001 - Poole Stadium, Poole, England:

Top 8 advance to Intercontinental final, August 11 in Vastervik, Sweden:

1. Jason Lyons, Australia, 15 points;
2. Gary Havelock, Great Britain, 13;
3. Sam Ermolenko, USA, 11;
4. Scott Nicholls, Great Britain, 11;
5. John Cook, USA, 9;
6. Sean Wilson, Great Britain, 9;
7. Steve Johnston, Australia, 9;
8. Stuart Robson, Great Britain, 8.

9. Chris Slabon, Canada, 7 points (reserve rider for Intercontinental Final);
10. Paul Hurry, Great Britain, 7;
11. Nigel Sadler, Australia, 6;
12. Brett Woodifield, Australia, 4;
13. Billy Janniro, USA, 4;
14. Shane Parker, Australia, 4;
15. Paul Fry, Great Britain, 3;
16. Bobby Hedden, USA, 0.