The World Pairs Final 1992
What could stop the Danes? This; on May 15, 1992, the career of World Speedway Champion Jan O Pedersen came to a crashing end. He suffered severe back injuries and was very fortunate to avoid a wheelchair. He would eventually ride again but only for a bit of fun.
Hans Nielsen and Tommy Knudsen would now defend their World Pairs Title in the Final with Brian Karger.
Normal transmission was resumed at the Semi-Finals with all favourites getting through. The Czechs only just being eliminated on home soil while the Norwegians too missed the boat, even if not by much.
Italy would host this years Final on July 18. Lonigo it was and no sunscreen needed this time, it was under lights. AND the hometown hero, Armando Castagna had his fans in raptures! Four wins, two seconds, 16 out of his teams 18 points. Beaten only by Hans Nielsen and Gary Havelock. Certainly the performance of a lifetime.
AND this one was ever so close. After 3 races each, yes Denmark had the lead with the Yanks BUT, while Nielsen was unbeaten, his team-mates were in BIG trouble and the scores were; Denmark/USA 11. England/Sweden 10 and Italy 9. The Yanks had Greg Hancock as their 'get out of jail free' card and he proved to be just that. The Swedes however had Tony Rickardsson and after two ducks by Gustafsson, it was amazing that he was left on the bench.
Heat 11 had the Swedes back on track with a 5-1 over Australia. Then came a shock for Hans Nielsen as he was beaten by Mitch Shirra from Kiwiland in Heat 12. Brian Karger just managing to shake off David Bargh for third. More drama followed as in heat 13, Kelvin Tatum fell on the first turn. English referee, Frank Ebdon stopped the race and ordered all four back. [mmmm] Havelock and Tatum did the business and stayed level with Sweden.
Heat 14, Castagna stuck it to the Yanks! He just beat Hancock over the line doing serious damage to the hopes of the Stars and Stripes. Then came the historic heat 15. A torrid first lap ended with Tommy Knudsen down and out! Hans went solo [shut up!] and used the force to upset Jonsson before the re-run. From the start, it was a furious battle of passing and repassing, Gustafsson taking the win and Jonsson finally getting the better of Professor Nielsen. The Danes Dominoes were at last all knocked down. And that put the Swedes in the drivers seat with 20 points. Heat 17, disaster for the Poms as Havelock saw off Castagna but Tatum failed to score. England now on 18.
Sweden were just 4 laps from the Gold Medals. Maximum points over the Yanks in heat 18 and it was Champagne time. Even though America had one more race left, a 5-1 by Sweden would mean mellow blue and yellow. Four laps later, Sweden had capitulated! Hancock beat Jonsson while Sudden Sam held out Gustafsson. Sweden 22. USA 18. Now the game had changed to England V USA!
When both teams maximized round 5, it was 23 points each and Run-off time. Hancock V Havelock. They gated together but Hancock on the inside took full advantage and Greg was in with a grin. An enthralling evening and a new chapter in Speedway history. Gary Havelock said,
"I wanted to do the toss for gate positions but I popped out to the loo and when I came back, Eric Boocock had already done it. Gate one always had a massive advantage at Lonigo but Eric had done it, lost the toss and I was on the outside. I made a good start and I was slightly ahead but the outside was like polished concrete."
Was he "taking the urine son?" A couple of months later, Havvy's pain was relieved as he won the World Speedway Final.
THE big talk of the Speedway world now was that a 'Grand Prix' would replace the World Speedway Final AND to make way for this disaster, it looked as if the World Pairs Final was headed for the crusher.
1 Gustafsson Jonsson Shirra Thorpe
1st USA 23
2nd England 23
3rd Sweden 22
4th Italy 18
5th Denmark 16
6th New Zealand 14
7th Australia 10
This article was first published on 28th December 2014
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