Nicholls in hospital dash

SCOTT Nicholls was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment on his leg wound after being forced to miss Saturday's Swedish Grand Prix in Stockholm's Olympic Stadium.

By Elvin King

SCOTT Nicholls was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment on his leg wound after being forced to miss Saturday's Swedish Grand Prix in Stockholm's Olympic Stadium.

The Ipswich Evening Star Witches skipper is likely to be out of the Sky Bet Elite League side for a couple of weeks and Peterborough's Lee Richardson was set to replace him against Arena Essex at Foxhall Stadium today.

Better news for Ipswich fans is that Jesper B Jensen reached the semi-finals in Sweden, and was due to return to the Witches side today after missing two meetings with bad bruising.

Nicholls' hopes of winning the 2004 world title took a dip when he realised during Friday's practice session in Stockholm that he needed urgent medical attention.

He picked up five points, as he was set to start in the meeting proper after his overall seventh place last year, but will now be looking to score heavily in the Czech GP in Prague on May 15.

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Nicholls was due to have an operation last night after returning to England on Saturday afternoon and immediately transferring to a Chelmsford hospital.

He plans to be back in action next week, but much will depend on how well the operation went. Nicholls sustained a bad burn - down to the bone - behind his left knee in a crash at Foxhall Stadium against Swindon nine days ago.

He had outpatient hospital treatment the same night and it was not until last Wednesday that the injury worsened. He went to Sweden expecting to ride, but said: “It is not just the burn. I twisted my knee in the crash and this gave me a big problem in Friday's practice. It was not up to it, and it is best to miss out on one GP than do more damage and maybe miss two or three.”

Nicholls later found an infection in his wound, which necessitated quick-fire action and his operation was due to be carried out by a top skin graft expert.

Ipswich have the luxury of using any guest they can book in Nicholls' absence with the likes of Jason Crump and Leigh Adams being considered for Wednesday's trip to Arena-Essex.

Five Ipswich riders or assets were still in action on Saturday with Jensen the star of the quintet. He was ahead in his semi-final after a thoroughly impressive showing all night.

Then he was put under pressure by ex-Witch Tomasz Gollob and ended up crashing in the fence with Tony Rickardsson also going through. Jensen was incensed and felt that he had nowhere to go and that he had his leg taken away.

But referee Tony Steele would not change his decision, and Witches assets Gollob and Rickardsson went on to compete with Adams and Crump in the final.

This was won by Adams after passing his fellow Australian Crump coming out of the second bend. It was a great night of racing - and the best so far on an artificial man-made GP circuit.

Current Ipswich heat leader Hans Andersen came second in heat five to stay alive after a third place in heat one.

But Andersen went out in his next outing in heat 12 when he finished third behind fellow Dane Bjarne Pedersen - after briefly going beyond the Poole rider.

Ipswich asset Jarek Hampel won heat three after a flying start from gate four, but then went out after coming third in heat seven and last in heat 11.

Jensen today admitted that his performance was better than he expected.

He said: “I was one lap from the final and showed I can possibly do better in the Grand Prix than I thought.

“It was unbelievable and I am still pinching myself. I was struggling to breathe because of my injured ribs and I hurt them again when I went into the fence.

“I don't think what happened in my semi-final was fair. It was hard racing but there is so much standing on reaching the final in a Grand Prix, and I think there should have been a re-run without Tomasz Gollob.

“That was my opinion but the referee had another one. He reckoned I made a riding mistake, but I felt I didn't have any space to put my foot down when Tomasz came under me.

“But I am in the top eight in Prague for the next GP and I am so thrilled. I can't really explain it.”

Swedish Grand Prix: L Adams 25 pts, J Crump 20, T Rickardsson 18, T Gollob 16, N Pedersen and G Hancock both 13, L Richardson and JP Jensen both 11, M Loram and B Pedersen both 8, R Sullivan and B Brhel both 7, M Max and R Holta both 6, A Jonsson and S Nicholls both 5, H Andersen and F Lindgren both 4, L Dryml and J Hampel both 3, P Protasiewicz and P Ljung both 2, K Laukkanen and A Dryml both 1.

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