Speedway

Adams not letting up on Pedersen

Author: Mark Fattore

Posted:

Baltic state Latvia will host round eight of the 2007 speedway world title this Saturday night, as Leigh Adams looks to keep the pressure on runaway leader Nicki Pedersen. Adams is currently 24pts (126 to 102) behind the table-topping Pedersen, but he refuses to concede that the Dane already has a vice-like grip on the championship. "I am now top of the Swedish, Polish and British League averages and that must say something about how I'm going," said Adams. "I want to make Nicki (Pedersen) nervous and I think he'll start feeling a bit wobbly if I keep winning. "Everyone says I'm out of it, but that's garbage. If I win two of the last four rounds I believe I'll be champion, and that's my aim." Even if Adams doesn't grasp all his opportunities in the final few rounds, 2007 has still been a watershed for the 36-year-old Mildura war horse. That's because he's now producing the type of unerring consistency that has always made him such a colossus in the three major speedway domestic leagues - the UK, Sweden and Poland. Adams has made it into four of this year's seven finals, equal with compatriot Jason Crump and only behind the imperious Pedersen. Two of those appearances have resulted in victories, including the last round in Sweden. After the success of last year's inaugural round in Latvia, the action once again returns to Daugavpils. The southern city's permanent speedway circuit, known as the Latvijas Spidveja Centrs, is 375 metres long, with American Greg Hancock carving out a win in the penultimate round of 2006, ahead of Antonio Lindback, Pedersen and Andreas Jonsson. By that time, Crump had already romped to world title glory, but the stakes are much higher in 2007. On top of the battle for supremacy between Pedersen and Adams, Hans Andersen (87pts), Crump (79) and Hancock (78) are all locking horns in the battle for third, with Chris Harris (67) slowly losing touch. Crump, the reigning world champion, is now rallying after a season interrupted by faltering form, mechanical mishaps and injury. After slumping to sixth in the title after Cardiff's round five, Crump has since responded like a true champion, to the point where Latvia could see him challenge for his first win of the year. "I have struggled this year‰Û_ but I have not given up just yet," said the hard-charging Australian. "I know I need to collect as many points as possible, so I will be racing for the win on Saturday. If I can get good results at the final four GPs, then I am still in with a good chance to finish in the top two. I've always said it's not over until the fat lady sings." Meanwhile, Pedersen, despite Adams' protestations, remains the red-hot favourite to claim his second world title. The 30-year-old, who is often embroiled in controversy, has been in swashbuckling form all year, across all conditions, and it would be out of place if Latvia didn't produce more of the same. Further down he pack, the competition is heating up, with only the top eight riders at the end of the year guaranteed direct entry into next year's championship. Pedersen, Adams, Andersen, Crump, Hancock and Harris are already near certainties, leaving the remaining 10 riders to fight it out over two spots. Young guns Jonsson and Jarek Hampel are in that bottleneck group. Jonsson will make his return from a shoulder injury in Latvia after missing the last GP, while Hampel, a former junior world champion, will again miss with a broken hand. The remaining eight places in 2008 will be made up from qualifiers and 'invitations'. Latvia, with a population of 2.3 million, shares land borders with Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, and both Russia and Belarus to the east. Meanwhile, the Baltic Sea separates it from Sweden to the west. The country was a part of the Soviet empire from 1940, where it was assigned the production of consumer items such as refrigerators and, quite fittingly, motorcycles. It became an independent country in 1990. Riga is the coastal capital. All the action from Daugavpils can be followed live at www.speedwayworld.tv.
Main Photo: Lee Adams
Credit: Mike Patrick

OVERALL STANDINGS (after round seven of 11):
1 Nicki Pedersen, Denmark - 126
2 Leigh Adams, Australia - 102
3 Hans Andersen, Denmark - 87
4 Jason Crump, Australia - 79
5 Greg Hancock, America - 78
6 Chris Harris, Great Britain - 67
7 Tomasz Gollob, Poland - 56
8= Scott Nicholls, Great Britain - 50
8= Jarek Hampel, Poland - 50
10 Rune Holta, Poland - 48

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