The World Pairs Final 1978
Peter Collins would not get to defend his title with Malcolm Simmons, embroiled in some off track appeal whatever. His place being taken by Gordon Kennett. Who turned out to be a stellar replacement when he and Simmons were unbeaten in their Semi-Final. Ole Olsen and Finn Thomsen also won their round from New Zealand Ivan Mauger/Larry Ross and Sweden Anders Michanek/Jan Andersson, forcing out Australia Phil Crump/Phil Herne and Finland Ila Teromaa/Kai Niemi.
The World Final was held on June 25 at the Slaski Stadium, Katowice, Poland. Anders Michanek was a 'no show', replaced by Borje Klingberg. The Kiwis and Brits got off to a flying start but a shock for the Danes as Jan Andersson forced a draw. Next big crunch was in round three, New Zealand V England. Kennett made the start from Mauger, Simmo and Ross but in an effort to get by Mauger, Simmo was taken by Ross and thats the way it stayed. Kennett, Mauger, Ross, Simmons. They were the only points Simmo would drop all day.
Ole Olsen then forced the Kiwis to a draw and it was 4-2 for the Brits over the Danes. Round 5 saw an upset for the Brits as West German Hans Wassermann kept Kennett back in third place. So after 5 rounds, New Zealand had 21 to the Brits 20. A 5-1 for the Kiwis over the Poles would seal the victory. Ivan Mauger then 'took out insurance'.
England's manager was the late John Berry and this was what he said in his book,
'... before the race, I noticed Ivan in deep conversation with Eddie. [ Edward Jancarz ] Perhaps they were talking about the weather but ... I pointed the two of them out to Ole and shrugged my shoulders, resigned to the situation. Ole got really angry and disappeared. He came back just as the race was starting, looking very self-satisfied. Ivan and Larry made good starts and were putting on a good show of team riding. Then suddenly on the third lap, Eddie bolted between them and disappeared into the distance. Ivan gave chase but the Pole was away.'So 'Fast Eddie' put it over Ross, his Wimbledon team-mate and the furious World Speedway Champion! I bet Ivan felt terrible. Poland 3 - New Zealand 3. That left the stunned Kiwis on 24. Now, a 5-1 for the Brits would give them the Gold Medals. That never happened either as Andersson blocked Kennett which left New Zealand and England with 24 points each. The Gold Medal run-off put Mauger and Simmons out together. Simmo would later recall;
"As usual, Ivan was pratting about before the start, going up to the tapes, turning back to head in the direction of the pits and generally adopting delaying tactics that were designed to unsettle me. I did begin to feel nerves a little as he delayed the start even longer by changing bikes and then, to top it all, his mechanics replaced his front wheel on the track!
The ref had put us on two minutes but that rule went out the window as Ivan continued to mess around and the official did nothing to hurry things along. It got to the point where I just ignored Ivan's mind games and remained fully concentrated as I waited patiently for the start. Then, just as we were finally to be pushed off, Ivan's manager, Peter Oaks chipped in with a comment, "You know Ivan has never lost a run-off dont you!" I was so focussed that it didnt register with me at the time that what Oaks said was complete nonsense. Ivan and Peter's psychological ploy to try and rattle me didnt work. I made a dream start and led all the way to clinch my third World Pairs Final gold medal in a row.
I had the last word too when I rode by Oaks and took great delight in saying, "He's lost one now!"
With that win, Malcolm Simmons equalled the record of three in a row held by Anders Michanek. What a day, what a result and just what did Edward Jancarz get for his 'double-cross'??? Might have to ask Sir Ole one day ...
1 Mauger Ross Stancl Verner
1st England 24
2nd New Zealand 24
3rd Denmark 21
4th CZ 18
5th Poland 15
6th West Germany 13
7th Sweden 11
This article was first published on 21st September 2014
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