Speedway

Nicki Pedersen claims second world title

Author: Mark Fattore

Posted:

Nicki Pedersen is the 2007 world speedway champion - with a round to spare. The Dane wrapped up the championship in the Slovenian GP on September 22 after yet another swashbuckling victory, his fourth for the year. The 30-year-old won six of his seven races at the Matije Gubca Stadium in Krsko, including the final, for the second year running, over Scott Nicholls, Rune Holta and outgoing world champion Jason Crump. The victory in the final was simply a bonus for Pedersen, who already had the title in his keeping after Australian Leigh Adams, his only rival for the crown, struggled after coming into the meeting with an injured shoulder. After a searing start, Adams eventually wilted and scored just 9pts in the preliminary heats, while the free-wheeling Pedersen top-scored on 14pts. That was enough for Pedersen to build an unassailable championship lead, irrespective of results in the semi finals and final in Slovenia, as well as the last round in Germany. "I've worked so hard for this to happen to prove that the title I won in 2003 not just was a one timer," said Pedersen. "Now I've proved that for myself and everybody else, and it gives me an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction. "My team has been outstanding all season and all the boys deserve a big hug, without them I could not have done what I have done this year. All I can say is, that we have been better than everybody this year - for that I'm so thankful." Pedersen is now the seventh winner of the world speedway title since it adopted the GP-style format in 1995, and he's only the second rider after Sweden's Tony Rickardsson to win more than once. Pedersen's previous title came in 2003. Adams fought hard in Slovenia, but he was obviously suffering with his injured shoulder, which he hurt in the UK on September 14. But, as always, he was magnanimous in defeat, as he knew it was always going to be a tall order to conquer Pedersen - whether he was fit or not. "I was a bit beaten up and bruised, although I felt okay on the bike after not really knowing what to expect on Friday, but there are no excuses," said Adams. When the crash happened I thought my season was over. I put my best in, but in the end it wasn't good enough. "Nicki has been strong all year, making great starts and even tonight he made a couple of blinders when he needed to and pulled things out of the bag. But it's been a constructive year for me too; I've had a great year and we've pushed him right to this stage but just didn't have enough left in the tank." Adams is yet to confirm whether he will return for another attempt at the elusive title in 2008. "I've now got to sit down with the family and work out what happens, we'll settle down and get the season out of the way and then make some decisions," said Adams. "We've had a really good atmosphere within the team, we've had a lot of fun on the way and the season's not over yet, we still have $100,000 (in the final German round) to try and win!" Adams' Slovenia outing ended in the second semi final when he was fourth behind Crump, Pole Rune Holta and Dane Bjarne Pedersen. In the opening semi, Nicki Pedersen eased to victory from Nicholls, last round winner Tomasz Gollob and Wieslaw Jagus. Although Crump was a disappointing fourth in the final, he was able to tighten his hold on third position in the title. Gollob has replaced the out of form Hans Andersen as Crump's new pursuer, but the gap is out to 8pts with only one round remaining in Germany. Behind Andersen, Greg Hancock and Chris Harris are almost certainties to progress into the 2008 championship as top eight finishers, while Nicholls will have to keep a watching brief on Holta and Jagus to make sure he's the last automatic qualifier. The final round will be held on October 13. SLOVENIA RESULTS
1 Nicki Pedersen, Denmark - 23pts (1st in final)
=2 Scott Nicholls, Great Britain - 16 (2nd in final)
=2 Rune Holta, Poland - 16 (3rd in final)
4 Jason Crump, Australia - 13 (4th in final)
5 Tomasz Gollob, Poland - 10
=6 Leigh Adams, Australia - 9
=6 Wieslaw Jagus, Poland - 9
=6 Bjarne Pedersen, Denmark - 9
9 Chris Harris, Great Britain - 8
=10 Andreas Jonsson, Sweden - 6
=10 Jarek Hampel, Poland - 6
=10 Matej Zagar, Slovenia - 6

OVERALL STANDINGS (after round 10 of 11):
1 Nicki Pedersen - 187 (world champion)
2 Adams - 142
3 Crump - 109
4 Gollob - 101
5 Hans Andersen, Denmark - 98
6 Greg Hancock, America - 90
7 Harris - 87
8 Nicholls - 83
9 Holta - 81
10 Jagus - 75

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