Witches wish for wild cards

SCOTT Nicholls and Hans Andersen are hoping for wild card entries into next year's Grand Prix series.The Ipswich Witches pair failed to make the top eight, needed to ensure automatic qualification, after disappointing performances in Saturday night's final round in Norway.

SCOTT Nicholls and Hans Andersen are hoping for wild card entries into next year's Grand Prix series.

The Ipswich Witches pair failed to make the top eight, needed to ensure automatic qualification, after disappointing performances in Saturday night's final round in Norway.

Both riders collected just six points with Nicholls completing only one race.

Although Nicholls was unlikely to make the top eight, he was looking for a good performance to finish an injury-ravaged series. But machine problems in his first ride and a fall in his second saw him exit the meeting at heat 17 with the only race he did finish seeing him finish third. He finished 12th in the standings overall.


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It was a disappointment for the Team GB captain on a night when Jason Crump was crowned the 2004 world champion.

Andersen also failed in his hopes of a top-eight place after a poor start to the meeting. He found himself in an early eliminator that he successfully negotiated, before progressing through to heat 18 where he ran a third and was out.

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The chances of both Witches getting a permanent wild card next year though are good, with John Posselwhite of promoters Benfield Sports International, admitting the choice of the five permanent wild cards was, “likely to surprise no-one and they almost pick themselves”.

On that assumption it is likely the riders finishing ninth to 13th - Andersen, Bjarne Pedersen, Lee Richardson, Nicholls and Ryan Sullivan - will get those cards.

Meanwhile at the business end of the meeting, Crump was crowned champion after three runners-up positions in the last three seasons. And few would deny him the honour.

The 29-year-old Aussie became his country's fourth world champion and the first for more than 50 years after he successfully negotiated himself through to the semi-finals and picked up 11 points, two more than he needed, to become champion.

However it was rather a bizarre set of circumstances that led to Crump winning the crown.

Out in heat 19, he needed a first or second place to progress to the semis and ultimately announce himself world champion.

But after a crash involving three riders in the race first time out, Norwegian Rune Holta was excluded at the second time of asking for delaying the start. Crump's odds of winning up the title had increased dramatically with Holta's exclusion, and they were guaranteed when Ryan Sullivan crashed in the third re-run and was also excluded.

It left Crump and Nicki Pedersen left in the race and that was good enough for the Australian.

“I don't know what to say,” said Crump.

“I lost the title here in the same stadium last year and that was such a terrible upset, but it has all come right now and I'm so thrilled.”

Crump's nearest challenger, Tony Rickardsson, won the meeting with Greg Hancock second and Tomasz Gollob third, with Rickardsson and Hancock finishing second and third respectively in the final standings.

Ipswich's other representative, Jesper B Jensen, was never going to threaten the top eight, but he enjoyed his best meeting for four rounds, winning two heats, including a heat 12 win over Andersen.

Witches' asset Jarek Hampel, already being tipped to join the Suffolk club in the Elite League next season, grabbed the final eighth qualifying place on a night of poor racing on the man-made circuit.

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