GOLDEN GOLLOB

Sunday September 26, 2010
New world champion Tomasz Gollob ended his 20-year quest to secure speedway’s biggest prize, and apologised to the Polish people for keeping them waiting so long.

The 39-year-old became Poland’s first world champion since Jerzy Szczakiel in 1973 when he won the FIM Nice Italian Speedway Grand Prix at Terenzano on Saturday night.

The Bydgoszcz-born racer’s dream came true when Chris Harris beat Jaroslaw Hampel to second spot in the second semi-final to end the Leszno and Vetlanda racer’s dreams of winning the gold.

But Gollob refused to relax even after ending his quest to reach the shale sport’s summit. He defeated Harris, Greg Hancock and Nicki Pedersen to lift the Italian SGP title for the second year running.

Gollob is a sporting megastar in his homeland and few riders have ever carried such a crippling weight of expectation on their shoulders.

So the four-time FIM Speedway World Cup winner was over the moon to end his nation’s agonising wait for an individual world champion.

He said: “I’m very happy. It’s the World Championship for me after 20 years of trying to win it. I have to thank me team and my sponsors for all their work.

“It has taken much work to get here. The co-operation in the whole team has been fantastic.

“I’m sorry it has taken 20 years for me to win this. It has been 37 years that Poland had to wait. Twelve years ago in Wroclaw I had that big crash and the World Championship didn’t go to me. It went to Tony Rickardsson. But tonight is different – tonight is my night.”

Despite knowing the ultimate prize was up for grabs in Terenzano, Gollob did not show a hint of nervousness as he stormed to 13 points from his five heat rides to top the scorechart after 20 races.

He then left Pedersen, Rune Holta and Hans Andersen trailing in his wake in the semi-final, before rounding off his night in style.

It was also a sensational evening for British fans as Harris produced one of the performances of his career to bag second spot. He picked up incredible speed on the last turn and nearly pipped Gollob on the run to the line in the final.

But he left Italy with 18 massive points, which leaves him seventh in the overall standings with 94. This all but seals him a top-eight finish and automatic qualification for the 2011 World Championship.

The delighted Cornishman, whose highest ever finish in the series was ninth in 2007, said: “I’m determined to stay in the top eight and stay in the Grand Prix next year – and for many years to come.

“I’m coming in with a better attitude to it now. My life away from speedway is happy and my performance on the track is helping me.

“I’ve started to believe that I belong in the company of the world’s best. It’s showing in the racing.

“My starts have got a lot better because I’ve started to believe in myself. My bikes are working well, so a big thanks to my pit crew.

“It was great to pass Greg in the final this time, but Tomasz got me at the last. That’s why he’s No.1 in the world now and congratulations to him. I ride with him in Sweden and he’s a fantastic rider to work with.”

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (AFTER 10 ROUNDS): 1 Tomasz Gollob 163, 2 Jaroslaw Hampel 131, 3 Jason Crump 129, 4 Kenneth Bjerre 102, 5 Rune Holta 97, 6 Greg Hancock 95, 7 Chris Harris 94, 8 Chris Holder 90, 9 Hans Andersen 79, 10 Andreas Jonsson 78, 11 Nicki Pedersen 78, 12 Fredrik Lindgren 76, 13 Magnus Zetterstrom 67, 14 Tai Woffinden 45, 15 Emil Sayfutdinov 33, 16 Davey Watt 19, 17 Janusz Kolodziej 12, 18 Thomas H Jonasson 8, 19 Adrian Miedzinski 6, 20 Antonio Lindback 6, 21 Niels-Kristian Iversen 6, 22 Piotr Protasiewicz 5, 23 Jurica Pavlic 5, 24 Scott Nicholls 4, 25 Matej Kus 3, 26 Leon Madsen 3, 27 Ludvig Lindgren 2, 28 Nicolai Klindt 1, 29 Linus Sundstrom 1, 30 Mattia Carpanese 1.

FIM NICE ITALIAN SGP POINTS: 1 Tomasz Gollob 22, 2 Chris Harris 18, 3 Greg Hancock 14, 4 Nicki Pedersen 11, 5 Jaroslaw Hampel 10, 6 Rune Holta 9, 7 Andreas Jonsson 8, 8 Hans Andersen 8, 9 Jason Crump 7, 10 Chris Holder 7, 11 Magnus Zetterstrom 7, 12 Davey Watt 6, 13 Fredrik Lindgren 6, 14 Tai Woffinden 6, 15 Kenneth Bjerre 4, 16 Mattia Carpanese 1, 17 Mattia Cavicchioli 0, 18 Andrea Maida 0.



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