Heat is on for Witches ace Scotty

SCOTT Nicholls today faced up to the fact that he might miss out on the 2005 speedway Grand Prix series.The Ipswich Evening Star Witches skipper admitted that it would be a disaster.

SCOTT Nicholls today faced up to the fact that he might miss out on the 2005 speedway Grand Prix series.

The Ipswich Evening Star Witches skipper admitted that it would be a disaster. “I am still hungry to win the world championship, and it would be a body blow to miss out next year,” he said.

Nicholls, 26, needs to win tonight's final GP in the indoor Viking Ship Stadium, Hamar, Norway to stand any chance of finishing in the top eight and winning himself automatic qualification.

“I know that I am capable of winning, but even if that dream comes true tonight it will still mean two or three other riders having a nightmare of a meeting. And that is unlikely to happen.”

All is not lost for Nicholls as six riders will be nominated to make up a 16-strong field for every GP next season.

The lucky six will join the eight qualifiers and the two riders who won through from the 2004 championship qualifying series.

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“I would like to think that I would get a year-long wild card place,” added Nicholls. “The authorities need riders from Great Britain, and it would make sense to pick Lee Richardson and myself.

“I would much rather have won my own place in 2005, but with an early season injury realistically I missed out on three of the ten GP meetings.

“I hope the authorities will take that into account, but a good display tonight could clinch it for me one way or the other.

“There will be 16 instead of 24 riders next year and this should make it better with closer scores.”

Nicholls' Witches team-mate Hans Andersen needs a good show tonight to move up one place to confirm his 2005 place. This is likely to help Nicholls as well, as Andersen's victory in Gothenburg is likely to ensure the Dane a nominated place even if he does end outside the top eight.

“I have shown I can win a Grand Prix this season, but I am ten years younger than some of the top boys, so I will take my time,” said Andersen, who will have young Ipswich rider Daniel King helping him in the pits tonight. “I have shown in the last three GPs I can match the best.”

Ipswich's third representative is Jesper B Jensen, who after a semi-final appearance first time out in Stockholm, has failed to shine.

He will not feature next year, and 2000 world champion Mark Loram is also set for his final GP meeting - for a couple of years anyway.

Australian Jason Crump, runner-up for the last three seasons, needs just eight points to become world champion for the first time.

The Belle Vue star said: “I haven't prepared any differently for this meeting, because there's no point in tinkering with a formula that has worked so well all year.

“I want to enjoy the off-season this year, and what better way to do that than as world champion.”

Tonight's line-up

Heat one: Jonsson, A Dryml, Loram, Sola.

Heat two: Andersen, B Pedersen, Max, Forland.

Heat three: Protasiewicz, Sullivan, Laukkanen, Brhel.

Heat four: Richardson, Hancock, Jensen, Kylmakorpi.

Seeded to heat nine: Gollob, Holta, Adams, Nicholls.

Seeded to heat ten: Crump, Rickardsson, Hampel, N Pedersen.

Grand Prix standings

Top 20: Crump 147pts, Rickardsson 130, Hancock 117, Adams 115, N Pedersen 100, Gollob 95, Jonsson 84, B Pedersen 75, Andersen 74, Hampel 74, Richardson 71, Nicholls, Sullivan 57, Holta 49, Protasiewicz 48, Max 41, Loram 36, Jensen 32, Brhel 31, L Dryml 22.

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