Whatever you do, do not mention the name of Bo Brhel to Ryan Sullivan, because for the second time this season, the veteran rider has well and truly thwarted the world championship hopes of the Melbourne-born 28-year-old.

Roared on by his home crowd at the Czech Republic Grand Prix in Prague, Brhel led Heat 15, but caved in an fell under pressure by Sullivan, causing the race to be stopped - when, as is order of the day in a speedway Grand Prix qualification race, first and second place is all that matters. Failing, for the second time to clear himself and his bike off the track in time - following a similar incident in Heat 3 - the race had to be halted by the referee.

Instead of making it though comfortably, the re-run saw Sullivan miss out to Swedes Mikael Max and Andreas Jonsson, forcing him into a Heat 17 elimination race, in which he finally had to give up hope of becoming world speedway champion for 2003. Cruelly, Sullivan made a great start to Heat 17, but became the first and only rider to pick up traction on a smooth, but altogether too slick racing surface, which sent him on collision course to the fence, making him shut off and go back to last place.

It was only two months ago that Bo Brhel was arguably responsible for the terrible injuries that Ryan Sullivan sustained in Sweden, when an over enthusiastic first corner by the Czech ultimately resulted in the popular Australian sustaining a broken bone in his back and a badly burnt arm. In Prague, without this time making contact, Brhel - who had no world championship hopes to race for - has again proved to be an awful curse for Sullivan.

Earlier, Flyin' Ryan had been content to sit behind eventual winner Jason Crump for second place in Heat 9 after Greg Hancock had been excluded for touching the starting tapes - but after Heat 15's unnecessary happening by Brhel, Sullivan was eliminated in a painful Heat 17, in which wild card home rider Tomas Topinka - another Czech - and Poland's Tomasz Gollob shut out the more fancied Australian and England's fast-improving Scott Nicholls - both of whom tried everything but just couldn't gain ground.

Amid the furore of the one-off, big stadia tracks, which have often proved to break up, causing unforced errors - and in the case of the recent Scandinavian GP - postponement, racing on the all-year-round speedway track at Prague was, alas, quite processional. Smooth racing, perhaps, for the riders, but all too predictable for the crowd, prompting that clich? that all speedway fans loathe - 'the first one out of the start wins it'. And so, the argument continues.

Despite all his injuries, Ryan Sullivan has somehow still managed to maintain his 6th place in the championship table. His world title dreams are over for another season, but a busted collar bone, broken bone in his back and scorched arm still haven't prevented him from having a major say in the destiny of what is now a four-horse title race. He deserves a medal for not giving in.



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