World Speedway Championship leader, Australia’s Chris Holder enters this weekend’s final round of the FIM Speedway Grand Prix at Poland’s Torun Stadium poised for the meeting of his life, sitting just two points clear at the top of the table.
With his Poole Pirates making it through to the British Elite League Final earlier this week, Holder hit a slight road hump this morning Australian-time when his Swedish club, Piraterna, went down in the Swedish League Final to Jason Crump’s Vetlanda squad.
Holder was typically solid, walking away from the meeting with eight points right behind one of those he’ll battle for the World Championship early Sunday morning Australian time, American Greg Hancock, who banked 11 points in the 15 point loss.
In the World Championship, the Sydney-sider is two points in front of Danish triple World Champion, Nicki Pedersen and 10 points in front of defending Champion Hancock. Holder and Pedersen are locked together on two Grand Prix wins each this year (Holder – Leszno and Cardiff; Pedersen – Czech Republic and Croatia).
Pundits consider Pedersen (who took victory in the Czech League this morning) to be the favourite to take out the World Championship. Flying under the radar is a position that the unassuming Holder is more than comfortable with.
The polarising Dane is believed to have an advantage over the Aussie getting out of the gates and shows absolutely no fear whatever the situation.
Many would have written Holder’s chances off after his four point haul at the opening Grand Prix of the season in New Zealand and nobody would have considered him to be in World Championship contention.
The fact he enters the last round leading is testament to the new found maturity that has been a cornerstone of the Appin-born racer in 2012 – whose partner Sealy gave birth to his son, Max, on the morning of that NZ Grand Prix.
A major thing in Holder’s favour entering Sunday morning’s meeting in Poland is track knowledge – he, along with good mate Darcy Ward and veteran Australian, Ryan Sullivan are the star attractions each Sunday for the Unibax Torun club in the Polish League – the richest and most popular speedway league in the world.
With tracks being prepared under the watchful eye of the Speedway Grand Prix race director (incidentally a Dane), should it be a heavy track with plenty of dirt it will be in Holder’s favour, if its a slick, single lane affair (as many Grand Prix tracks tend to be), the advantage may swing towards Pedersen’s corner.
A man that could have a massive bearing on the outcome of the final is Holder’s fellow Australian, Jason Crump – who makes his last ever Grand Prix start in Poland.
There is no love lost between career long rivals Crump and Pedersen and if for Holder to win the World Championship, Crump had to finish his 145th career Grand Prix second behind Holder rather than taking the win – there is little question the Bristol-born, Gold Coaster would do it.
Should Holder be victorious on Sunday, he will become just the fifth Australian World Speedway Champion. He will join the club that includes the first ever Champion, Lionel van Praag (victorious in 1936), Bluey Wilkinson (1938), Jack Young (1951, 1952) and our most prolific Champion, Crump (2004, 2006, 2009).
The F.I.M. Speedway Grand Prix of Torun will be shown live into Australia this Sunday morning from 4a.m. (Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time) on Speed TV.