Rickardsson races to Grand Prix win

TONY Rickardsson dedicated his European Grand Prix victory in Poland to his ace engine tuner Carl Blomfeldt.The Ipswich Evening Star Witches asset cruised to victory in Chorzow on Saturday night and looked a class above the rest of the field.

By Elvin King

TONY Rickardsson dedicated his European Grand Prix victory in Poland to his ace engine tuner Carl Blomfeldt.

The Ipswich Evening Star Witches asset cruised to victory in Chorzow on Saturday night and looked a class above the rest of the field.

He looks set to defend his title without too much trouble – and this spells another body blow to the well-being of speedway.

With so much wrong with the sport in this country, highlighted by Ipswich's current plight and their inability to improve an ailing side, the last thing the sport needs is for the Grand Prix series to become a formality.

It certainly looks that way after 32-year-old Rickardsson set out on his way to equal Ivan Mauger's record six world championship wins in perfect style.

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Blomfeldt lived for three years at Old Newton when Rickardsson had his workshop in Suffolk for two years and then Tomasz Gollob took over the services of the tuner for a season.

Blomfeldt suffered a minor heart attack during the preparation for Saturday's event and is currently in his native Canada waiting for an operation.

"Carl has done so much for me," said Rickardsson. "We are sure he will make a full recovery and this victory is dedicated to him."

Nicki Pedersen and Ales Dryml pushed Rickardsson all the way in an exciting finale to the meeting, and was then presented with his trophy by Polish president Alexsander Kwasniewski.

Another Witches asset Tomasz Gollob was fourth.

Rickardsson said: "I haven't really felt any pressure so far this season. In fact I have been very laid back. There were some huge ruts in the track by the time we reached the final and I tried to keep off them but Nicki and Ales, the young guys, were just racing through them.

"I just kept ahead and am delighted to have won and to have got my season off to such a great start."

Pedersen, who won at the Slaski last year, fought back from a tough start to claim second place. He was excluded from his first race after clashing with fellow Dane Bjarne Pedersen and then lambasted referee Tony Steele for his decision to exclude him.

Said Pedersen: "I was angry at the time but when I watched the TV replays I can see that Tony was probably right. A couple of years ago I would have lost it but I kept my focus and I am very pleased with the result."

Polish superstar Gollob drew the unfavoured gate three in the final and trailed home last. However he did more than enough to show that he still has a world title challenge in him.

Ryan Sullivan finished two races but the handicap of racing with a broken collarbone was plain to see and he is now hoping that he will be much fitter for the second round in Sweden in two weeks time.

Mark Loram, who broke his left arm at Eastbourne less than a month ago, did not take to the track. The FIM ruled that he was unfit to compete but awarded him five points.

"It was the right decision," said Stowmarket-based Loram. "I didn't want to ride but would have done if forced to. But another fall could have put me out for months and now I will continue to have treatment and should be much better in Stockholm."

In front of a 31,000 crowd at the Slaski Stadium, Ipswich's Scott Nicholls went through to the main event without two many alarms.

He finished behind Tomasz Bajerski in he four and then won heat seven from the outside gate.

In heat 13, Nicholls was last away from gate three and finished at the back behind Rickardsson, Ryan Sullivan and Holta – and in heat 18 it was the notorious gate three again.

This time he was at the back again and although he moved up to third when Bo Brhel suffered an engine problem he went out with just six points to his name.

"It all went well until the main event," said Nicholls. "It was not easy to catch up and pass in the conditions and having gate three on two occasions certainly did not help."

The authorities will be hoping that racing improves in the remaining eight events, starting in Sweden in two weeks, May 31, but Rickardsson looked so good that the rest of the year could well be a procession.

European GP result and current standings: T. Rickardsson (Swe) 25, N. Pedersen (Den) 20, L. Dryml (Cze) 18, T. Gollob (Pol) 16, P. Protasiewicz (Pol) 13, R. Holta (Nor) 13, L. Adams (Aus) 11, J. Crump (Aus) 11, G. Hancock (USA) 8, K. Cegielski (Pol) 8, L. Richardson (GB) 7, M. Max (Swe) 7, S. Nicholls (GB) 6, R. Sullivan (Aus) 6, B. Brhel (Cze) 5, M. Loram (GB) 5, T. Bajerski (Pol) 4, S. Ulamek (Pol) 4, R. Kurmanski (Pol) 3, H. Andersen (Den) 3, B. Pedersen (Den) 2, T. Wiltshire (Aus) 2, P. Karlsson (Swe) 1, J. Lyons (Aus) 1.