American veteran, Greg Hancock has taken out a stunning Melbourne Speedway Grand Prix at Etihad Stadium in dramatic circumstances.
The double World Champion – who annexed another podium finish in the World Championship – was undefeated – thus ensuring there has only been one winner in Grand Prix Speedway in Australia.
He beat home Niels-Kristian Iversen – who survived a nasty crash midway in the meeting when his machine packed up on the startline, depositing him on his tailbone, and the spectacular Maciej Janowski.
The final got underway in messy circumstances when three of the four riders went down – the worst off being Newcastle-raised Australian, Jason Doyle – who was knocked out in the horrible incident. He was transported to Royal Melbourne Hospital where he is awake and breathing unaided.
The race got restarted and Hancock was able to assert his dominance on the Etihad surface to win and claim second in the world championship behind Perth-raised Brit, Tai Woffinden. Woffinden was handed his second World Championship despite a big crash in his semi-final.
The Aussies were involved in further dramatic circumstances when wildcard, Sam Masters clashed with regular Speedway Grand Prix marked man, Nicki Pedersen early in the event. Following an altercation on track between the two, Masters remonstrated with Pedersen’s crew, knocking one flat before a pitside melee ensued.
Despite the ugly incident, Masters was impressive on his Speedway Grand Prix debut, scoring five points.
The 2012 World Champion, Chris Holder failed to fire throughout the Grand Prix, unable to get away from the startline throughout his five rides, collecting just two points. Similar fate befell Queenslander Troy Batchelor, who also took just a duo of points.
Holder was able to retain his place in Speedway Grand Prix in 2016 despite a nervous moment. Peter Kildemand was four points behind Holder heading into the Semi-Finals. He had a runaway lead before a red light stoppage and then couldn’t fire on the re-run, finishing third, thus granting Holder his eighth place in the World Championship. Doyle also directly qualified, ending his first Grand Prix season a brilliant fifth.
Standouts include Andreas Jonsson who staged a stunning switchback cutting through the middle of three of his fellow contenders to take the lead and carry on for a win.
Overall, attracting 27,000 spectators, the return of Grand Prix Speedway to Australia could be considered a great start to the five year contract that Etihad holds. The surface was one of the best temporary surfaces ever constructed in Speedway Grand Prix competition and the Speedway fans who turned out enjoyed a magnificent event.
DON SMALLGOODS AUSTRALIAN SGP SCORES: 1 Greg Hancock 21, 2 Niels-Kristian Iversen 15, 3 Maciej Janowski 11, 4 Jason Doyle 11, 5 Peter Kildemand 13, 6 Tai Woffinden 12, 7 Andreas Jonsson 12, 8 Krzysztof Kasprzak 9, 9 Matej Zagar 7, 10 Michael Jepsen Jensen 7, 11 Nicki Pedersen 7, 12 Sam Masters 5, 13 Tomas H Jonasson 4, 14 Troy Batchelor 2, 15 Chris Holder 2, 16 Chris Harris 0, 17 Justin Sedgmen DNR, 18 Max Fricke DNR.
FINAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Tai Woffinden 163, 2 Greg Hancock 147, 3 Nicki Pedersen 131, 4 Niels-Kristian Iversen 120, 5 Jason Doyle 114, 6 Matej Zagar 107, 7 Maciej Janowski 106, 8 Chris Holder 95, 9 Peter Kildemand 92, 10 Andreas Jonsson 88, 11 Michael Jepsen Jensen 84, 12 Troy Batchelor 59, 13 Chris Harris 55, 14 Tomas H Jonasson 55, 15 Krzysztof Kasprzak 45.