Blogs & Opinion


Hunger games

'Hancock's will to succeed has kept him at the top of the sport'

Kelvin Tatum Posted 26th July 2012 view comments

The 2012 Speedway Grand Prix has reached its halfway point and most of the usual suspects are at the top of the standings.

I would have expected eighth-placed Andreas Jonsson to be further up the ladder as he finished last season in fine form, winning three of the final six Grands Prix, while Jaroslaw Hampel's injury woes mean he has not been able to keep pace with the leaders.

Hancock: defending Grand Prix champion leads this term's standings

Hancock: defending Grand Prix champion leads this term's standings

But it is no surprise that defending champion Greg Hancock, 2009 titlist Jason Crump and the talented Chris Holder occupy the first three places ahead of the seventh meet of the campaign in Croatia on Saturday.

Hancock, who also won this tournament in 1997, has never lost the hunger and will to win, which is quite admirable really when you consider he has featured in every Grand Prix since the competition's inception in 1995.

A collarbone injury makes you much less flexible on the bike and Crump will be hoping that the Gorican track is smooth as a rough surface will make it very demanding for him.

Kelvin Tatum
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
Croatia Grand Prix
6pm, Sat, Sky Sports 3 HD
Watch on the move with Sky Go
How to remote record

The American has got a very professional camp around him, is very steady on the track, has avoided serious injury and has plenty of big-time experience and all those factors combined have allowed him to perform at an extremely high level into his forties.

Crump, meanwhile, will be looking for a better display than the one he put up in Gorzow, Poland just over a month ago when he amassed just five points.

However, he will enter this meet with a broken collarbone, which he sustained while on duty for his Russian club side, Vladivostok.

The Australian has had an operation and is confident he will be able to ride successfully but there is definitely a question mark over him.

A collarbone injury makes you much less flexible on the bike and Crump will be hoping that the Gorican track is smooth - a rough surface will make it very demanding for him.

The 36-year-old could struggle to get a lorry-load of points and it may be a case of damage limitation for him.

Recapture

Britain's Chris Harris has a good record at the Croatian venue - finishing second there for the last two years - but I think he is running out of time to save his Grand Prix career.

He rode brilliantly for Team GB in the World Cup qualifier in King's Lynn and needs to recapture that form quickly, as I sense that if he doesn't make the top eight, he may well miss out on a Grand Prix spot next term.

A top-eight place is still feasible for Harris, but as he currently sits in 15th, he must collect a hatful of points and possibly a rostrum finish in Croatia to kick-start his season.

Martin Vaculik, the replacement for the injured Hampel, won the Polish GP in terrific style but I think he will have done a good job if he gets to the semi-finals in Gorican.

I am also intrigued to see how this round's wild card entry, Jurica Pavlic, fares on a track that his family owns. The pressure could weigh on him somewhat but he has been in pretty good form of late for the Vastervik team in Sweden. If he keeps his head, I think he will make the top eight.

We have seen some demanding conditions in Gorican before as when the track gets hot it becomes quite patchy, but it is a small, fast, very circular course and represents a good challenge to the riders.

Hancock has a great record at this meeting and I think he will be there or thereabouts, as will Holder, while Harris may nick a podium spot - but I am only basing that on his history in Croatia, not on his current form.

back to top

Other Speedway Experts:

Latest Posts in Speedway:

Kelvin Tatum

Back on track

Lakeside can make it two wins over Belle Vue Aces in four days, says Kelvin Tatum, but it'll be close!...

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Hit the road

Swindon are struggling this season but will fancy their chances at Birmingham, says Kelvin Tatum....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Racing away

Belle Vue are unbeaten at home but Kelvin Tatum asks if they can transfer that form at Swindon....

comments

Latest News RSS feeds

Swindon, Lakeside victorious

Swindon and Lakeside secure vital away victories as the race for Elite League playoff places intensifies.

Robins rally to beat Leicester

Swindon fought back from a six-point deficit to edge out Leicester 47-43 at the Abbey Stadium.

'Exhausted' Tai takes break

World champion Tai Woffinden given week off with stress-related illness

Birmingham Brummies to close

The British Speedway Promoters' Association have announced the closure of Birmingham Brummies with immediate effect.

Rossiter names GB side

Great Britain name starting line-up for the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup clash with Australia, USA and Italy.

Features

Sky Sports and British Speedway, Sky Tickets have an exclusive offer for all live meetings

Sky Sports and British Speedway, Sky Tickets have an exclusive offer for all live meetings

To celebrate the partnership between Sky Sports and British Speedway, Sky Tickets have an exclusive offer.

Elite League Speedway: Download a free Sky Sports programme

Elite League Speedway: Download a free Sky Sports programme

Make sure you make the most of your Elite League speedway action with the Sky Sports programme.

2014 Elite League season preview

2014 Elite League season preview

Sky Sports brings you an extensive preview of the new Elite League speedway season, which looks set to be the most exciting for years.