The honour of turning the first laps on the virgin track at Etihad Stadium for the 2015 Don Smallgoods Australian FIM Speedway Grand Prix fell to our own triple world champion and Australian Speedway GP ambassador Jason Crump today.
With track time for competing riders strictly controlled, ‘Crumpy’ was given the privilege this morning (Thursday) for two sessions of 4 laps each. He then gave the big thumbs up to the venue which at 346 metres is longer than the standard 270 – 275 metre tracks the riders are used to competing on. The track is also wider than most which Crump reckons will allow for some really great racing on Saturday night.
Earlier on, the first official media conference was held with current World Champion Greg Hancock, and former World Champions Nikki Pedersen and Aussie Chris Holder, along with Aussie GP riders Jason Doyle and Troy Batchelor and local wild card Sam Masters.
Having yet to ride on the track which won’t occur until Friday afternoon all riders stated that the venue and track looked impressive and were looking forward to racing on it.
Hancock also expressed the view as the last winner of the Australian FIM SGP round held in Sydney in 2002, that he lived in hope of getting the chance to ride in a SGP event before a home crowd (USA) but doesn’t expect that will happen in his racing lifetime and for that reason is jealous of the quartet of Aussies who will now get that opportunity.
Later when young Masters was explaining that he and his girlfriend didn’t bring any clothes with them on the international flight so that Sam could bring a spare engine, Hancock quipped “Talk about jealousy. How many young Aussie riders are jealous of this guy (Masters) right now (for getting the wild card entry)?”
Etihad stadium CEO Paul Sargent confirmed ticket sales are above expectation but there are still plenty more available and that they are reasonably priced at just $24.50 for kids and $49 for adults.
While Australian tutored and trained Tai Woffinden has sealed this years’ world championship there is still a lot to ride for as arch rivals Hancock and Pedersen battle it out for the Silver Medal and Holder fights for the coveted 8th place championship result that would secure him an automatic place in next years’ championship field.
The buzz around this event is really starting to build and come Saturday night they may have to open the stadium roof to save it being blown off by the crowd.
Image: Inaction Photography, The Motorsport Channels Brett Swanson interviewing Jason Crump for Channel 7 News